Genius urges plowing to perpetuate the human species

Persecution of men’s sexuality is becoming more harsh.  The historically entrenched practice of men-on-men war threatens to engulf the world.  The cost-benefits of pornography relative to dating are stroking a dangerously solitary path.  The perpetuation of the human species is at risk.

wooden plough for medieval plowing

Opinion leaders should take their hands away from their current vigorous activities and use their heads more effectively.  In medieval Europe, men had faith in reason. Genius made a powerful, emotional appeal to men:

Plow, for God’s sake, barons, plow,
and restore your lineages.
Unless you think about strongly plowing,
there’s nothing that can restore your lineages.

In your two bare hands raise
the guideboards for your plow.
Support them strongly with your arms
and strive to enter the ploughshare
stiffly in a straight path,
the better to be engulfed in the furrow.

{ Arez, por Dieu, baron, arez,
et voz lignages reparez.
Se ne pansez formant d’arer,
n’est riens qui les puist reparer.

Levez au .ii. mains toutes nues
les manchereaus de voz charrues,
formant au braz les soutenez,
et du soc bouter vos penez
raidemant en la droite voie,
por mieuz affonder en la roie }

Man-degrading chivalry dominated western Europe in the thirteenth-century, just as it does in many places around the world today.  Genius recognized the original, true understanding of chivalry:

My lords, be merciful! Be merciful, my lords!
Remember your good fathers
and your old mothers!
Conform your deeds to what they traced out,
take care that you don’t deviate.
What did they do? Take good care in it.
If you consider what is their prowess,
you understand that they have defended themselves so well
that they have given you this existence.
If it weren’t for their chivalry,
you would not now be alive.
Much they prayed with great compassion for you,
in love and in friendship.

{ Seigneur, merci! merci, seigneur!
Souviegne vos de voz bons peres
et de voz ancienes meres!
Selonc leur fez les voz ligniez,
gardez que vos ne forligniez.
Qu’ont il fet? Prenez vos i garde.
S’il est qui leur proece esgarde,
il se sunt si bien deffandu
qu’il vos ont cest estre randu;
se ne fust leur chevalerie,
vos ne fussiez pas ore en vie;
mout orent de vos grant pitié
par amors et par amitié. }

Have compassion for humanity.  Throughout all of history, plowing has saved humanity from oblivion.  It’s our best hope for surviving into the future.

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The above two quotes are from the 13th-century French masterpiece, The Romance of the Rose {Le Roman de la Rose}, 19671-4, 19679-84 (Plow, for God’s sake, barons, plow…) and 19748-60 (My lords, be merciful! Be merciful, my lords!…), Old French text from Lecoy (1965-70), vol. 3, English translation (modified) from Dahlberg (1995).

The Old French text includes a pun with the Old French word “baron.” As a nominative, it could mean “baron / barons” or by extension, “husband / husbands.” The Anglo-Norman homonym barain carries the sense of “barren.”

The Old French seigneur as a nominative could similarly mean “lord / lords,” or by extension, “husband / husbands.” Seigneur, however, could also be an address to God (the Lord): “God, have mercy! Have mercy, God!”

Genius’s urging of husbands to plow draws closely on verses from an agricultural context in Virgil’s Georgics, Book 1. See, e.g. Georgics 1.45-6, 210, 299, as cited and analyzed in Huot (2010), pp. 92-3. Georgics, Book 1, ends with men’s efforts being futile. Genius, in contrast, has an optimistic view of men’s labor along with women’s.

[image] Medieval Japanese plow.  I’ve derived this image from one available on the Japanese Wikipedia.


Dahlberg, Charles, trans. 1995.  Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. The Romance of the Rose. 3rd ed. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Huot, Sylvia. 2010. Dreams of Lovers and Lies of Poets: Poetry, Knowledge and Desire in the Roman de la Rose. London: Legenda. Review by Noah Guynn.

Lecoy, Félix, ed. 1965-70. Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. Le Roman de la Rose. 3 volumes. Paris: Honoré Champion. Old French text via Base de français médiéval: vol. 1, vol. 2, and vol. 3.

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