Saturday, February 18, 2006
At least I'm in good company. Company like Aristophanes and Rabelais. I hope I never become so elevated and refined that I can't laugh uproariously at jokes like this one from Aristophanes' Clouds (382-394, tr. anon.):
STREPSIADES. But you have not yet told me what makes the roll of the thunder?I borrowed the title of this post from Ralph A. Lewin, Merde: Excursions in Scientific, Cultural, and Sociohistorical Coprology (New York: Random House, 1999), p. 43.
SOCRATES. Have you not understood me, then? I tell you, that the Clouds, when full of rain, bump against one another, and that, being inordinately swollen out, they burst with a great noise.
STREPSIADES. How can you make me credit that?
SOCRATES. Take yourself as an example. When you have heartily gorged on stew at the Panathenaea, you get throes of stomach-ache and then suddenly your belly resounds with prolonged rumbling.
STREPSIADES. Yes, yes, by Apollo! I suffer, I get colic, then the stew sets to rumbling like thunder and finally bursts forth with a terrific noise. At first it's but a little gurgling, pappax, pappax! then it increases, papapappax! and when I take my crap, why, it's thunder indeed, papapappax! pappax!! papapappax!!! just like the clouds.
SOCRATES. Well then, reflect what a noise is produced by your belly, which is but small. Shall not the air, which is boundless, produce these mighty claps of thunder?
STREPSIADES. And this is why the names are so much alike: crap [πορδή, pordé] and clap [βροντή, bronté].