In the Christian squadron, five stout and lofty ships were guided by skilful pilots, and manned with the veterans of Italy and Greece, long practised in the arts and perils of the sea. Their weight was directed to sink or scatter the weak obstacles that impeded their passage: their artillery swept the waters: their liquid fire was poured on the heads of the adversaries, who, with the design of boarding, presumed to approach them; and the winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.
Here, then, Abba Paul had made such progress in purity of heart in the stillness and silence of the desert that he did not even permit himself to look at a woman’s clothing, much less on a woman’s face. For when a woman from nearby chanced to meet him on his way to the cell of a certain elder, along with Abba Archebius who was from the same desert, he, distressed at encountering her, ran back to his own monastery in greater haste than a person would use to flee from a lion or an immense dragon, forgoing the duty of the pious visit that he had set out upon. The situation was such that he was not even prevailed upon by the shouts and pleas of the aforesaid Abba Archebius, who was calling him back so that they might stay on the road that they had started out on in order to ask the elder what they had planned.
Although this was done with zeal for chastity and ardor for purity, nonetheless because it was not done according to knowledge and because the observance of discipline and the measure of appropriate strictness were excessive (for he believed that not merely familiarity with women, which really is harmful, but even the very form of that sex was to be abominated) he immediately suffered such a seizure that his whole body was paralyzed and none of its members could perform any of their functions. For not only his feet and hands but even the mechanism of his tongue, by which speech is formed, were affected, and his very ears lost their sense of hearing. The result was that nothing remained of his humanity apart from an immobile and senseless shape.
To such a state was he reduced that men’s care was in no way sufficient to minister to his sickness, and only womanly attention was of use to him. For when he was brought to a cenobium of holy virgins, food and drink, which he was unable even to beckon for, was produced for him with feminine graciousness, all his needs of nature were satisfied, and this same care was at his disposal for nearly four years—that is, until the end of his life.
No man is an Ireland nor Ulysses in his cave.
No woman known as Jill has gone up the hill.
Nowhere is to be found a return from the grave
beyond the dark satanic mill.
[T]ake a fresh egg and wrap it round with this divine Pantagruelion. Thus wrapped up, put it in a brasier, as large and hot as you like. Leave it there as long as you like. At last you will take out the egg cooked, hard, and burnt, without alteration, change or over-heating of the sacred Pantagruelion. For less than fifty thousand Bordeaux crowns, reduced to the twelfth part of a mite, you may make the experiment.
– Rabelais, The Third Book of Pantagruel, chapter 52
It is written in the anals of our people, that we are infested with bugs. We’re in bed with them. Our daily bread breeds them. Our bungs sizzle with them.
Entering the fourth form required answering the standard questions.
How many hogsheads in a cubic furlong?
Crimea River, does it flow through Babylon?
When is a man not a man? There’s a hint on this one: When he’s down for the count.