The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel

By François Rabelais; J. M. Cohen | Go to book overview

Look at me both before and behind. It is in the shape of a toga, the ancient apparel of the Romans in times of peace. I took the pattern from Trajan's column at Rome, also from the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus. I'm tired of wars, tired of military cloaks and padded jerkins. My shoulders are quite worn out by the weight of harness. Let there be an end of armour! Let togas reign, at least for all this next year, if I marry -- as you explained to me yesterday when you talked about the Mosaic law.

'As for breeches, my great-aunt Laurence told me long ago that they were made only for the codpiece. I believe it, by the same argument as that jolly fellow Galen uses, when he says in his ninth book On the Use of our Limbs, that the head was made for the eyes. For Nature could have placed our heads on our knees or on our elbows. But since she required the eyes to see things from afar, she fixed them in the head, as it were on a pole, at the highest part of the body. In just the same way we see lighthouses and high towers erected above seaports, so that the lantern may be seen from far off.

'Now because I should like for some space of time, a year at least, to take a respite from the profession of arms -- I mean because I should like to marry -- I no longer wear a codpiece, and consequently I no longer wear breeches. For the codpiece is the first piece of harness in the arming of a warrior, and I maintain even to the stake -- though stopping short of actual burning, you understand -- that the Turks are not properly armed, seeing that the wearing of codpieces is a thing forbidden by their law.'


CHAPTER 8: To prove that the Codpiece is the principal piece in a Warrior's Armour

'WOULD you maintain,' asked Pantagruel, 'that the codpiece is the principal piece of military harness? That is a very new and paradoxical doctrine. For we say that a man's arming begins with his spurs.'

'I maintain it,' replied Panurge, 'and not wrongfully, do I mainrain it. Consider Nature. She wishes the plants, trees, shrubs, herbs, and zoophytes, which she has created, to be perpetuated and to last into all successive ages, without the species ever dying out, although

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