Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Anal Affront

Beryl Rowland, Blind Beasts: Chaucer's Animal World (Kent State University Press, 1971), p. 72 (commenting on The Summoner's Tale):
The Devil is said to flee in dismay from human flatulence.22 A renowned remedy against him, claimed to be effective when all else failed, is to expose one's buttocks and expel flatus at him. Luther thought that the Devil feared anal affront most and when he could not get rid of him by jeering at him he would say: 'Teufel ich hab auch in die Hosen geschissen. Hastu es auch gerochen?' This homeopathic cure was one which Luther advocated all his life, and he relates the story of a young lady acquaintance who followed his advice with success — 'Sathanum crepitu ventris fugavit.' But if it could repulse the Devil, the same desperate method could also expel the imps of Satan. It is a curious fact that although Satan's abode was reputed to be a sulphurous dwelling, for centuries noxious fumes were believed to be efficacious in smoking the Devil out of the unhappy demoniac. The Holkham Bible Picture Book (fol. 30) shows Judas evacuating a devil ex ano and a friar in the baberies of the north side choir stalls in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, stoops down with bare buttocks to make a similar ejection.23
Notes on p. 173:
22 Luther, Tischreden, II, no. 1557; E. Jones, Nightmare, p. 176; Bourke, Scat. Rites, pp. 163, 444. Braddy, SFQ, XXX, notes examples of scatological word-play, e.g. ferthyng/fert; odious meschief/arsmetrike.
23 Druce, Notebooks, F101.
Hat tip: A friend.

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