I Fall to Pieces (Mmm… Marginalia #20)

Sorry about the unannounced week off, readers.  Deadlines, etc.

At any rate, I came upon this week’s marginal treat while tracking down grylluses (more on those later).  It comes from the Pierpont Morgan Library’s MS G24, a mid-14th century French collection of 13th-century verse romances.  In the right hand margin of one of the manuscript’s texts, a chanson de geste called The Vows of the Peacock, we find this strange fellow hanging out:


We all know that two heads are, in general, better than one.  But this illuminator reminds us that having two heads presents problems of its own.  For instance, you have to decide which head to wear on your shoulders on any given day.  This poor naked marginal guy apparently can’t decide which to go with, so he’s carrying both around.  The serpentine grotesque nibbling on his leg is probably not helping, either.

People disassembling themselves is a favorite subject of this particular illuminator, for reasons that escape me.  Presumably, he just thinks that people with detachable pieces are awesome.  (And they are.) Here, a few pages later, is a man who’s taken off his own leg and is waving it around:


BONUS: Last week or so, Scott Nokes over at Unlocked Wordhoard warned that I might one day run out of marginal monkeys.  Don’t listen to him.  I’ve got so many monkeys on tap that I don’t even need to crop out the one above.  Consider it your simian lagniappe.

I don’t know why the monkey in the bottom margin near our first piecemeal man is trying to attract the gryllus’s attention to his eye, though.  Possibly, it’s a parody of the ubiquitous images of King David pointing to his eye before God.  Or, maybe, he’s just picking his nose, and really wants the gryllus to know about it.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • zara hemla

    It kind of looks like the monkey is pointing to his nose like, “Hey gryllus, my nose is way too close to your derriere, and you need a wash.”

  • Dr. Richard Scott Nokes

    Oh, thank goodness! I was really worried about the potential monkey-dearth.

  • Anonymous Soprano

    On further consideration of some of the images you’ve posted, one starts having little, heretical thoughts along the lines that that whole “celibate” thing was not fully thought out, perhaps.

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