Gargantua and Pantagruel eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,126 pages of information about Gargantua and Pantagruel.

Chapter 5.XLV.

How Bacbuc explained the word of the Goddess-Bottle.

Bacbuc having thrown I don’t know what into the fountain, straight the water ceased to boil; and then she took Panurge into the greater temple, in the central place, where there was the enlivening fountain.

There she took out a hugeous silver book, in the shape of a half-tierce, or hogshead, of sentences, and, having filled it at the fountain, said to him, The philosophers, preachers, and doctors of your world feed you up with fine words and cant at the ears; now, here we really incorporate our precepts at the mouth.  Therefore I’ll not say to you, read this chapter, see this gloss; no, I say to you, taste me this fine chapter, swallow me this rare gloss.  Formerly an ancient prophet of the Jewish nation ate a book and became a clerk even to the very teeth!  Now will I have you drink one, that you may be a clerk to your very liver.  Here, open your mandibules.

Panurge gaping as wide as his jaws would stretch, Bacbuc took the silver book—­at least we took it for a real book, for it looked just for the world like a breviary—­but in truth it was a breviary, a flask of right Falernian wine as it came from the grape, which she made him swallow every drop.

By Bacchus, quoth Panurge, this was a notable chapter, a most authentic gloss, o’ my word.  Is this all that the trismegistian Bottle’s word means?  I’ troth, I like it extremely; it went down like mother’s milk.  Nothing more, returned Bacbuc; for Trinc is a panomphean word, that is, a word understood, used and celebrated by all nations, and signifies drink.

Some say in your world that sack is a word used in all tongues, and justly admitted in the same sense among all nations; for, as Aesop’s fable hath it, all men are born with a sack at the neck, naturally needy and begging of each other; neither can the most powerful king be without the help of other men, or can anyone that’s poor subsist without the rich, though he be never so proud and insolent; as, for example, Hippias the philosopher, who boasted he could do everything.  Much less can anyone make shift without drink than without a sack.  Therefore here we hold not that laughing, but that drinking is the distinguishing character of man.  I don’t say drinking, taking that word singly and absolutely in the strictest sense; no, beasts then might put in for a share; I mean drinking cool delicious wine.  For you must know, my beloved, that by wine we become divine; neither can there be a surer argument or a less deceitful divination.  Your (’Varro.’—­Motteux) academics assert the same when they make the etymology of wine, which the Greeks call OINOS, to be from vis, strength, virtue, and power; for ’tis in its power to fill the soul with all truth, learning, and philosophy.

If you observe what is written in Ionic letters on the temple gate, you may have understood that truth is in wine.  The Goddess-Bottle therefore directs you to that divine liquor; be yourself the expounder of your undertaking.

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Gargantua and Pantagruel from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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