Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 3

How Gargantua was carried eleven months in his mother’s belly.

Grangousier was a good fellow in his time, and notable jester; he loved to drink neat, as much as any man that then was in the world, and would willingly eat salt meat. To this intent he was ordinarily well furnished with gammons of bacon, both of Westphalia, Mayence and Bayonne, with store of dried neat’s tongues, plenty of links, chitterlings and puddings in their season; together with salt beef and mustard, a good deal of hard roes of powdered mullet called botargos, great provision of sausages, not of Bolonia (for he feared the Lombard Boccone), but of Bigorre, Longaulnay, Brene, and Rouargue. In the vigour of his age he married Gargamelle, daughter to the King of the Parpaillons, a jolly pug, and well-mouthed wench. These two did oftentimes do the two-backed beast together, joyfully rubbing and frotting their bacon ‘gainst one another, in so far, that at last she became great with child of a fair son, and went with him unto the eleventh month; for so long, yea longer, may a woman carry her great belly, especially when it is some masterpiece of nature, and a person predestinated to the performance, in his due time, of great exploits. As Homer says, that the child, which Neptune begot upon the nymph, was born a whole year after the conception, that is, in the twelfth month. For, as Aulus Gellius saith, lib. 3, this long time was suitable to the majesty of Neptune, that in it the child might receive his perfect form. For the like reason Jupiter made the night, wherein he lay with Alcmena, last forty-eight hours, a shorter time not being sufficient for the forging of Hercules, who cleansed the world of the monsters and tyrants wherewith it was suppressed. My masters, the ancient Pantagruelists, have confirmed that which I say, and withal declared it to be not only possible, but also maintained the lawful birth and legitimation of the infant born of a woman in the eleventh month after the decease of her husband. Hypocrates, lib. de alimento. Plinius, lib. 7, cap. 5. Plautus, in his Cistelleria. Marcus Varro, in his satire inscribed The Testament, alleging to this purpose the authority of Aristotle. Censorinus, lib. de die natali. Arist. lib. 7, cap. 3 & 4, de natura animalium. Gellius, lib. 3, cap. 16. Servius, in his exposition upon this verse of Virgil’s eclogues, Matri longa decem, &c., and a thousand other fools, whose number hath been increased by the lawyers ff. de suis, et legit l. intestato. paragrapho. fin. and in Auth. de restitut. et ea quae parit in xi mense. Moreover upon these grounds they have foisted in their Robidilardic, or Lapiturolive law. Gallus ff. de lib. et posth. l. sept. ff. de stat. hom., and some other laws, which at this time I dare not name. By means whereof the honest widows may without danger play at the close buttock game with might and main, and as hard as they can, for the space of the first two months after the decease of their husbands. I pray you, my good lusty springal lads, if you find any of these females, that are worth the pains of untying the codpiece-point, get up, ride upon them, and bring them to me; for, if they happen within the third month to conceive, the child should be heir to the deceased, if, before he died, he had no other children, and the mother shall pass for an honest woman.

When she is known to have conceived, thrust forward boldly, spare her not, whatever betide you, seeing the paunch is full. As Julia, the daughter of the Emperor Octavian, never prostituted herself to her belly-bumpers, but when she found herself with child, after the manner of ships, that receive not their steersman till they have their ballast and lading. And if any blame them for this their rataconniculation, and reiterated lechery upon their pregnancy and big-belliedness, seeing beasts, in the like exigent of their fulness, will never suffer the male-masculant to encroach them, their answer will be, that those are beasts, but they are women, very well skilled in the pretty vales and small fees of the pleasant trade and mysteries of superfetation: as Populia heretofore answered, according to the relation of Macrobius, lib. 2. Saturnal. If the devil will not have them to bag, he must wring hard the spigot, and stop the bung-hole.

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33