Bear With Me Here, This Idea is Long and Convoluted But May Explain Some Things

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by American Horse, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. American Horse

    American Horse AKA "Mustang"

    Jan 23, 2009
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    The Hoosier Heartland
    There is a word, not exactly a word but a couple of words, an epithet then, too outrageous in its profanity for its meaning to be well comprehended by its users. More so than is “son-of-bitch” may be a longer, and just an inverted, more vulgar version of the simple word “bastard”, but son of a bitch wouldn’t be applied against ones own sibling because of the reflective aspersion. I.E. it would be equal to calling one’s own mother a ‘bitch’ in the process. Maybe this phrase is no more than a permutation of similar words and just belongs in the same etymological family, and nothing more than that, and so I'm just overthinking this subject. Still it is worth a thought on a weekend.

    But this epithet I refer to cannot be understood to apply to ordinary commentary about others without at least causing some wonder about its origins. It might be useful for those who use it, as well as those who hear it and are mystified by its meaning to go into its possible derivative source. Is it brand new, or from some Old English curse, or possibly something even more ancient, perhaps from a language lost to the human tongue, but which is still a part of the historical record?

    I realize this is not very scholarly, and not etymologically well founded but the Latin stem word rat- comes to us down through 3,000 years of history with virtually no change to the modern word rat; The rat is the one of those hated others and the short one syllable word rat allows us to identify the creature quickly and succinctly to our side when we see one: Rat, rat!
    Its purity suggests something about it universal use in our western society.

    I hesitate to even type the words I’m referring to so I will put it in its most common sounding form, a distortion I use in an effort to euphemize it: MUTHEHFUKKEH!.

    The Latin word for mother is mater, and the Latin stem word for “act, do, make, create, cause, perform, practice, (religion=) offer sacrifice” is fac- ; the first person singular ( “I”) form is facio, the 3rd person singular (“he”) form is facit, the second person singular facis.

    Like many times throughout our history a profanity as epithet is first lodged against a hated group (them, others, those guys, or rats), and because of its universality of use and acceptance becomes imbedded in the language. Sometimes, once the original meaning is lost it is applied vaguely and in vulgar fashion to despised foes, or those who arouse contempt for whatever reason.

    Interestingly, and perhaps not so surprisingly, this phrase is not commonly used by our Christian brethren. But I get ahead of myself. Here is some background from ancient writers that might illuminate the origins of this, for me at least, otherwise difficult to comprehend phrase which stays in common useage:

    The Accusations Against The Christians:
    In the passage translated here, Minucius Felix, a Christian, plays devil’s advocate and lists the accusations against the Christians from a non-Christian point of view:

    “These people gather together illiterates from the very dregs of society and credulous women who easily fall prey because of the natural weakness of their sex. They organize a mob of wicked conspirators who join together at nocturnal assemblies and ritual fasts and inhuman dinners, not for a particular religious ceremony, but for sacrilegious sacrifice; a secret and light-fearing tribe, silent in public, garrulous in dark corners. They despise temples as if they were tombs, they spit on the gods, they laugh at our sacred rites. . . . . Everywhere they share a kind of religion of lust, and promiscuously call one another brothers and sisters so that even ordinary sexual intercourse becomes incest by the use of a sacred name” *(1)

    “Tales about their initiation of converts are as disgusting as they are notorious. An infant is wrapped in bread dough so as to deceive the unsuspecting and is placed beside the person being initiated into the rites. The initiate is required to strike the surface of the bread*(2) with blows he presumes are harmless, but he thus kills the infant with wounds not seen by him. And then what an abomination! They voraciously lick up the blood of the infant and greedily tear apart its limbs, and swear alliance over this sacrificial victim and pledge themselves to mutual silence by complicity in this crime. . . . On holy days, they gather for a banquet with all their children, sisters, and mothers, people of both sexes and all ages. There, after many courses of food, the party heats and the passion of incestuous lust inflames those who are drunk. . . . In the shameless darkness they are indiscriminately wrapped in shocking embraces. . . . Why do they struggle to hide and conceal whatever it is they worship, if decent things always welcome publicity, and only wicked things are secretive? . . . That god of theirs, whom they can neither show to us nor see themselves, inquires carefully into the behavior of all men, and into the deeds of all men, and even into their words and hidden thoughts, dashing about and being present everywhere. They claim he is troublesome, restless, and even shamelessly nosey, that he hovers over every action and prowls in every place. . . . Why do they never speak in public or assemble openly, unless that which they worship and conceal is something illegal or shameful?"

    (Note that: Membership in a secret society in ancient Rome was considered a treasonous offence (the others) and was punished as severely as armed riot; that is by death.)

    A Christian’s reply to the accusations:

    Tertullian - Apologeticum ( A Greek apologia is a defense, not an apology in the modern sense; here he takes on two charges which would have stuck among the common folk )

    ". . . Some foreign slaves who belonged to our church were also arrested because the governor had issued a public order that we were all to be questioned. These slaves were caught in the snare of Satan. Because they were terrified of the tortures which they saw the saints suffering, when the soldiers urged them, they falsely accused us of Thyestean*(3) banquets and Oedipodean*(3) intercourse, and things which it is wrong for us either to speak of or think of….."

    Now comes the phrase that reduces the "charges" to an epithet, and perhaps survives today as a one commonly heard and which may have ancient origins. The epithet flung against the Christians was that: They [eat] their children, and [have] sex with their mothers.
    At the time this would've been a phrase more in the vernacular of soldiers, than of a "Christian Apologist.", equivalent to the difference between two words for a "horse" -- cabalus = word used by the common people (romantic) and equus = word used by the higher classes of society (classical) and their uses within those groups.

    For another take on why I made this post I quote MONTAIGNE: “All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice, I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed….”

    1 - Even today, members of congregations commonly refer to and address each other as "Brother" or "Sister"
    2 - This appears to refer to Holy Communion: "And while they were at supper, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke and gave it to His disciples and said, "Take you and eat, this is my Body." And taking the chalice He gave thanks and gave it to them saying, "Drink you all of this. For this is my Blood of the New Testament which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins". " (Matthew 26:26-28) Note that also Jesus Christ is referred to as "The Son of Man"
    3 - Thyestes, a figure from Greek mythology, partook of a banquet at which his sons were dismembered, cooked, and eaten.
    Oedipus, also of Greek mythology, had intercourse with his mother. "
    and Mary, Mother of Christ is referred to as "The Holy Mother"
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2009

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