Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 38

How Chitterlings are not to be slighted by men.

You shake your empty noddles now, jolly topers, and do not believe what I tell you here, any more than if it were some tale of a tub. Well, well, I cannot help it. Believe it if you will; if you won’t, let it alone. For my part, I very well know what I say. It was in the Wild Island, in our voyage to the Holy Bottle. I tell you the time and place; what would you have more? I would have you call to mind the strength of the ancient giants that undertook to lay the high mountain Pelion on the top of Ossa, and set among those the shady Olympus, to dash out the gods’ brains, unnestle them, and scour their heavenly lodgings. Theirs was no small strength, you may well think, and yet they were nothing but Chitterlings from the waist downwards, or at least serpents, not to tell a lie for the matter.

The serpent that tempted Eve, too, was of the Chitterling kind, and yet it is recorded of him that he was more subtle than any beast of the field. Even so are Chitterlings. Nay, to this very hour they hold in some universities that this same tempter was the Chitterling called Ithyphallus, into which was transformed bawdy Priapus, arch-seducer of females in paradise, that is, a garden, in Greek.

Pray now tell me who can tell but that the Swiss, now so bold and warlike, were formerly Chitterlings? For my part, I would not take my oath to the contrary. The Himantopodes, a nation very famous in Ethiopia, according to Pliny’s description, are Chitterlings, and nothing else. If all this will not satisfy your worships, or remove your incredulity, I would have you forthwith (I mean drinking first, that nothing be done rashly) visit Lusignan, Parthenay, Vouant, Mervant, and Ponzauges in Poitou. There you will find a cloud of witnesses, not of your affidavit-men of the right stamp, but credible time out of mind, that will take their corporal oath, on Rigome’s knuckle-bone, that Melusina their founder or foundress, which you please, was woman from the head to the prick-purse, and thence downwards was a serpentine Chitterling, or if you’ll have it otherwise, a Chitterlingdized serpent. She nevertheless had a genteel and noble gait, imitated to this very day by your hop-merchants of Brittany, in their paspie and country dances.

What do you think was the cause of Erichthonius’s being the first inventor of coaches, litters, and chariots? Nothing but because Vulcan had begot him with Chitterlingdized legs, which to hide he chose to ride in a litter, rather than on horseback; for Chitterlings were not yet in esteem at that time.

The Scythian nymph, Ora, was likewise half woman and half Chitterling, and yet seemed so beautiful to Jupiter that nothing could serve him but he must give her a touch of his godship’s kindness; and accordingly he had a brave boy by her, called Colaxes; and therefore I would have you leave off shaking your empty noddles at this, as if it were a story, and firmly believe that nothing is truer than the gospel.

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