February 18, 2007

Genitalia marginalia.

We were just talking about how people in 1824 saw the double entendre in that line -- "it is intercourse" -- in Gibbons v. Ogden. I ended that post saying, "We forget that people in the past were always talking about sex," and linking to an article about all the sexual double entendre in Shakespeare:
'The plays are absolutely packed with filth,' said academic Héloïse Sénéchal. 'I've found more than a hundred terms for vagina alone.'...

She claims that previous editions of Shakespeare have been too prudish, and that by using computer techniques she has uncovered unrecognised double entendres. These were aimed at the working classes who crowded into the Globe in London for their fill of bawdy entertainment. Sénéchal has identified seemingly innocuous words such as carrot, pencil and horn as terms for penis, while she pinpoints pie, fruit dish and 'buggle boe' as references to the vagina.
My colleague Karl Shoemaker, upon reading my post -- no pun intended! -- wanted me to see something that he found while reading 13th century plea rolls in London. So it's much older than Shakespeare and in the law context. Here's a photograph -- Karl had his student assistant take it -- of a corner of a document:

Marginalia

(Click here to enlarge.)

The words -- "ores itaunt le ad misyre/et itaunt le ad Gerardare" -- are law French. Karl's translation: "And thus Gerard to my Messire/And thus my Lord to Gerard." You can see the drawings at the end of each line, completing the thoughts -- rebus style.

The genitalia marginalia is a penis rebus.

9 comments:

Peter Palladas said...

Judicial Witchcraft

...Romanian judges do it with magic.

Rebus - best darn Detective in modern fiction.

Ron said...

I'm sorry, I just can't say 'buggle boe' with a straight face! Or a gay face either!

George said...

Man, doesn't that just bite a lucky dog's scrotum!

hdhouse said...

medieval music scribes routinely removed excess ink with pictures of the anatomy. even the most 'sacred' of collections feature these features. what is the stat? every 8 seconds for a male or something..whatever.

downtownlad said...

Yeah - I'm surprised they don't ban Chaucer from schools. It's essentially porn.

I thought people only got hangups about sex during the Victorian age.

Peter Palladas said...

Bare Ecclesiastical Bottoms

...Glad to see scholars have gotten their teeth into this.

rsb said...

One of my favorite coins from my collection is an 1854 United States Large Cent. On the reverse it says in big letters "One Cent". At some early point in its history, someone evened out the 'e' in Cent and replaced it with a carved in 'u'.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Should the genitalia marginalia be treated as firm precedent or are they just dickta?

Mortimer Brezny said...

No genitals are marginal in the annals of herstory.