Archives for posts with tag: curses

I’m looking at a pamphlet from the end of the Popish Plot. It’s a satire on the false accusations and fabrication of evidence that were rife at the time. There’s some nice swearing – a good set of epithets: “cross-biter” and “bogg trotter” for Catholics and the Irish for a start. It also has some nice curses ( “Smoke for it in the Devil’s Kitchin (sic)” ) and oaths (“I swear then (look this way) by all contained in the round world and twenty-thousand miles beyond it.”)

What I like most about it, though, is the opening exchange. Possibly the best description of a hangover I’ve ever read:

NED: Come Wil. Unstring and pay thy groat, for I am confident thou wast fuddled last night, thou look’st so thin and small-beerish this morning.

WIL: Fuddled, quoth’a, I would that were the worst on’t Ned, for then a Nap might do one’s business, and set a body to rights again; But I tell thee my Head’s broke, my Brains are split, i am distracted and my senses are turned the wrong side outwards;

We’ve all had days like that…

The Swearing-master: Or, a Conference Between Two Country-Fellows Concerning the Times. Ned and Wil
Publisher N.T., 1681

Sometime around 1180 BC, a local official living near the Dakhla oasis (in present-day Egypt) made a bequest in his father’s name. The bequest said that:

Harentbia donates a daily offering of five loaves in favour of his dead father… the official in charge of [the offering’s] execuition will enjoy the protection of the god Amon-Re. The person who fails in this respect shall ‘fall to the sword of Amon-Re’ and in addition ‘a donkey shall copulate with him, [and] he shall copulate with a donkey.'”

(Ljung 2011, p 45)

File:Edfu50.JPG

Bad donkey! No!

According to research, the donkey curse was a common component of legal documents of the era. Apparently a similar curse still exists in Kurdish to date, though presumably not used by lawyers – at least not in an official capacity…

Ljung, P.M., 2010. Swearing: A Cross-Cultural Linguistic Study, Palgrave Macmillan.