Sunday, October 30, 2011

Museum Flatulence

Alec Guinness, A Commonplace Book (London: Hamish Hamilton, 2001), p.6:
A fleshy old man, moving from room to room, apparently pausing to admire pictures and objects, but in fact quietly easing out a little gas at each stop so as not to startle the hushed tapestried world around him with a resounding fart.
Hat tip: A friend, whose name I omit, lest his reputation suffer by connection with this blog.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Oh, He Never Returned, No, He Never Returned

Carsten Niebuhr, Travels through Arabia and Other Countries in the East, tr. Robert Heron, Vol. II (Edinburgh: R. Morrison and Son [et al.], 1792), p. 252:
The Arabians are greatly shocked when that accident happens to a man, which is the natural consequence of the fulness of the intestines after too copious a meal, and of the indigestion of windy articles of diet. The Chevalier D'Arvieux has been blamed as guilty of exaggeration in what he says concerning the delicacy of the Arabs upon this score; but I have found all that he says of the manners and usages of this nation to be strictly true. I am therefore inclined to believe equally what he relates concerning things which I could not observe or verify myself. It would seem that the Arabs are not all equally shocked at such an involuntary accident. Yet, a Bedouin, guilty of such a piece of indecency, would be despised by his countrymen. The instance of an Arab of the tribe of Belludsje was mentioned to me, who, for a reason of this sort, was obliged to leave his country, and never durst return.
Niebuhr refers to Laurent d'Arvieux, Voyage fait par ordre du roy Louis XIV, dans la Palestine... (Paris: André Cailleau, 1717), p. 172 (my translation):
What is more shameful among them is to break wind, which is a sort of crime if done on purpose. When a fart unfortunately does escape them in public, they are regarded as disgraced individuals, with whom no one wants any more to do, and it has often happened that those who have had this misfortune have been obliged to go into exile and live among other peoples, lest they be exposed to jeers and to all the consequences of a bad reputation.

Ce qu'il y a de plus malhonnête parmi eux, c'est de lâcher des vents, c'est une espece de crime que d'en faire volontairement. Lors qu'il leur en échappe par malheur dans quelque compagnie, ils sont regardés comme des gens infames, avec qui l'on ne veut plus avoir de commerce, & il est souvent arrivé que ceux qui avoient eu ce malheur, ont été obligés de s'absenter et de passer chés d'autres peuples, pour n'êtres pas exposés aux huées, & à toutes les suites d'une méchante reputation.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Unruly Wind Within her Womb

Ian C. Storey, ed., Fragments of Old Comedy, Vol. I: Alcaeus to Diocles (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), p. 173 (translating Athenaeus 454a, with translator's footnote):
Callias was the first to reveal a word through iambic lines, a rather vulgar word, but phrased in the following manner:

Dear ladies, I am pregnant, but for modesty's sake I will spell out the name of my child for you in letters. A great upright stroke, and from its middle stands a little slanting stroke on its side. Then a circle with two little feet.3

3 The letters described are psi and omega ("ō"), yielding pso, perhaps related to psoa (foul smell). The speaker is not pregnant, then, but suffering from gas.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hold Your Nose

Mary Jones (1707-1778), "Epistle, from Fern-Hill," in her Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (Oxford: Dodsley, 1750), pp. 133-138 (lines 47-56 on p. 136):
As when (to speak in phrase more humble)
The Gen'ral's guts begin to grumble,
Whate'er the cause that inward stirs,
Or pork, or pease, or wind, or worse;
He wisely thinks the more 'tis pent,
The more 'twill struggle for a vent:
So only begs you'll hold your nose,
And gently lifting up his clothes,
Away th' imprison'd vapour flies,
And mounts a zephyr to the skies.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oh, What a Relief It Is!

Edward Guilpin, Skialetheia. Or, A shadow of Truth, in certaine Epigrams and Satyres (London: Printed by I.R. for Nicholas Ling, 1598), Epigram number 7, lines 4-6:
As when the cholicke in the gutts doth straine,
  With ciuill conflicts in the same embrac't,
  But let a fart, and then the worst is past.