Gargantua and Pantagruel eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 952 pages of information about Gargantua and Pantagruel.

The resolution of the council was that, let things be how they would, it behoved the Pantagruelists to stand upon their guard.  Therefore Carpalin and Gymnast were ordered by Pantagruel to go for the soldiers that were on board the Cup galley, under the command of Colonel Maul-chitterling, and those on board the Vine-tub frigate, under the command of Colonel Cut-pudding the younger.  I will ease Gymnast of that trouble, said Panurge, who wanted to be upon the run; you may have occasion for him here.  By this worthy frock of mine, quoth Friar John, thou hast a mind to slip thy neck out of the collar and absent thyself from the fight, thou white-livered son of a dunghill!  Upon my virginity thou wilt never come back.  Well, there can be no great loss in thee; for thou wouldst do nothing here but howl, bray, weep, and dishearten the good soldiers.  I will certainly come back, said Panurge, Friar John, my ghostly father, and speedily too; do but take care that these plaguy Chitterlings do not board our ships.  All the while you will be a-fighting I will pray heartily for your victory, after the example of the valiant captain and guide of the people of Israel, Moses.  Having said this, he wheeled off.

Then said Epistemon to Pantagruel:  The denomination of these two colonels of yours, Maul-chitterling and Cut-pudding, promiseth us assurance, success, and victory, if those Chitterlings should chance to set upon us.  You take it rightly, said Pantagruel, and it pleaseth me to see you foresee and prognosticate our victory by the names of our colonels.

This way of foretelling by names is not new; it was in old times celebrated and religiously observed by the Pythagoreans.  Several great princes and emperors have formerly made good use of it.  Octavianus Augustus, second emperor of the Romans, meeting on a day a country fellow named Eutychus —­that is, fortunate—­driving an ass named Nicon—­that is, in Greek, Victorian—­moved by the signification of the ass’s and ass-driver’s names, remained assured of all prosperity and victory.

The Emperor Vespasian being once all alone at prayers in the temple of Serapis, at the sight and unexpected coming of a certain servant of his named Basilides—­that is, royal—­whom he had left sick a great way behind, took hopes and assurance of obtaining the empire of the Romans.  Regilian was chosen emperor by the soldiers for no other reason but the signification of his name.  See the Cratylus of the divine Plato. (By my thirst, I will read it, said Rhizotome; I hear you so often quote it.) See how the Pythagoreans, by reason of the names and numbers, conclude that Patroclus was to fall by the hand of Hector; Hector by Achilles; Achilles by Paris; Paris by Philoctetes.  I am quite lost in my understanding when I reflect upon the admirable invention of Pythagoras, who by the number, either even or odd, of the syllables of every name, would tell you of what side a man was lame, hulch-backed, blind, gouty, troubled with the palsy, pleurisy, or any other distemper incident to humankind; allotting even numbers to the left (Motteux reads—­’even numbers to the Right, and odd ones to the Left.’), and odd ones to the right side of the body.

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Gargantua and Pantagruel from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.