believing that his wife never farts, husband nearly loses everything

husband-merchant wonders about wife

In relation to their wives and girlfriends, men are prone to gyno-idolatry. Lucretius, the great Roman dispeller of delusions, ridiculed men’s gyno-idolatry. Few rational persons have reasonably understood. The heroic, self-sacrificing Christian apostle Paul of Tarsus instructed men not to engage in gyno-idolatry. Few Christian men have been faithful to Paul’s teaching. Consider the case of a merchant in early fifteenth-century Italy.

This merchant served a nobleman, but he wasn’t afraid to assert his personal views. The merchant highly praised his wife:

among other things in praise of his wife, he said she had never farted.

{ uxorem inter caetera commendans, cum dixisset illam nunquam ventris crepitum edidisse }

Wives are flesh-and-blood human beings. Human beings fart. The merchant’s wife surely farted.

The nobleman was no gyno-idolatrous fool. He bet the merchant a lavish dinner that within the next three months he would hear his wife fart more than once. The merchant agreed to that bet.

The nobleman created financial worry for the merchant. The day after the wife-farting bet was established, the nobleman borrowed from the merchant 500 gold ducats for a week. The merchant was reluctant to lend such a large sum, but he yielded to his royal patron. Eight days went by and the nobleman still hadn’t repaid. When the merchant sought repayment, the nobleman asked to borrow another 500 gold ducats. He said he would pay back the full amount by the end of the month. The merchant resisted making the loan, but the nobleman insisted. To avoid losing his first 500 gold ducats, the merchant lent the second 500 gold ducats.

The merchant was in a difficult position. If he didn’t get back his 1000 gold ducats, he would be ruined:

he went home, sad and sick in spirit. Thinking about many things, full of doubts, his nights became sleepless. While he was lying awake, he frequently heard his wife fart in her sleep.

{ Domum reversus, moestus atque animo aeger, multa cogitans, plurima dubitans, agebat noctes insomnes. Vigilans saepius, audivit uxorem dormientem edere ventris crepitus. }

The merchant didn’t realize his wife farted because normally he was asleep. Too many men are asleep in relation to women. Men, wake up and stay awake!

After the month had passed, the nobleman asked the merchant if he had heard his wife fart. The worry-filled merchant admitted he had heard her fart many times. The nobleman then repaid the loan. But since the nobleman won the wife-farting bet, the merchant had to buy the nobleman a lavish dinner.

About two centuries earlier, the Italian literary luminary Giovanni Boccaccio published a similar story about the merchant Bernabò  and his wife Madonna Zinevra. Merchants, like most men, tend not to read imaginative literature. Most men thus don’t appreciate the fullness of life. Is it any wonder that gynocentrism continues?

Many things escape those who are asleep.

{ Multa itaque subterfugiunt dormientes. }

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The above story and quotes are from Poggio, Facetiae 184, “A merchant who, praising his wife, asserted that she had never farted {De mercatore qui, laudando uxorem suam, asserebat eam nunquam crepitum edidisse},” Latin text from Poggio (1879) vol. 2, pp. 99-101, my English translation. Here’s the Latin text in a machine-readable form.

[image] Husband believing his wife has never farted. Image made available by Witizia under Pixabay License.


Poggio. 1879. Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini. The facetiae or jocose tales of Poggio, now first translated into English with the Latin text. Paris: Isidore Liseux (vol. 1, vol. 2).

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