Saturday, September 29, 2007

The gelding of the devil, or, The prettiest jest that e'r was known, 1670

Most Disturbing Post in LOLManuscript History:

















Honestly, I can't just post this without some further explanation. Here's another, slightly different, version of the image from 1668:

















Seriously, though, I was shocked when I came across this one. I tried to read the ballad, but the condition of the original is pretty poor. From what I can deduce, a Baker convinces the Devil that if he cuts his "stones" off, the Devil will be a personal and financial success. The Devil believes him, but later realizes he's made a terrible, emasculating mistake. Then the Devil comes to exact his revenge (and collect the Baker's balls, I think), and the Baker's wife fools him, and then some other shit happens, and the Devil loses.

I immediately thought of the classic Charlie Daniels Band epic "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" when I saw the pamphlet. I never understood why it was always so easy to dupe the Devil. He IS the Prince of Darkness, right? Shouldn't he be a little bit more wary of accepting shady bets and falling prey to human trickery? He's been fooled out of a golden fiddle and ruling the earth under a regime of everlasting darkness, but now he's been bamboozled out of his testicles. Shameful. I prefer to remember the Devil in happier times, like when he was tempting humanity, and trying to seduce poets away from paths of righteousness, and inventing Rock music. Let's listen to this song, throw up some horns, and think of better days:

Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast

**UPDATE**: Upon further reading (although it's still difficult to decipher every word) I think I understand what is happening in the picture. It seems that the Devil makes the Baker promise to let him cut off his testicles to repay the debt of his own missing balls. The Baker's wife has the idea to go meet the Devil herself, dressed as the Baker. (That's what's going on in the background of the image, when the Devil is holding the knife.)

When the Devil tries to castrate her, she tells him she was "gelded yesterday." Then the Devil, not believing her, peeks up her coats and sees a "terrible wound," and tells her that whoever did her gelding job was a poor physician. The Devil tells her to leave and get medical attention. Then she goes home and brags to the Baker about how "She has cozened the Devil of Hell," and they are merry and full of glee. You know, I sort of wish I didn't read it, because I just feel even worse for the Devil now.

10 comments:

Doug said...

You know, my question isn't so much why Satan is willing to offer up his balls (although that is a valid and truly interesting question) as much as it is why the baker is so interested in acquiring the balls of Satan. Are they the key ingredient in a strudel that will propel him to baking fame?
Perhaps a more fundamental inquiry, however, is to ask why Satan has balls. Does he reproduce? I bet Satan would totally date rape you, sans condom, and duck child support once you gave birth to his demonic child.

Meghan said...

Has Gary Taylor seen this? Maybe you could contribute a chapter on this in his latest castration work!

Sarah Redmond said...

I was thinking of GT's Castration book when I found this! Maybe I'll send him an anonymous link. I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

Stacey said...

It looks to me as though the Baker's after Satan's wang, not his stones. I think this image inspired the Zappa song, "Titties 'n Beer." It's about a motorcycle man who's willing to sell his soul in exchange for titties 'n beer. There is also some discussion in the song about who's holding the devil's "pickle."

Sarah Redmond said...

Doug, of course Satan needs his genitals. How else would he have sex with all of those witches? And where do you think all of those monstrous births come from? It's certainly not genetic mutations or drinking during pregnancy...it's Satan.

Meghan said...

Good job putting Doug in his place, Sarah; I can't believe the notion of sinful monstrous births didn't come to mind when he was contemplating Satan's sex life (He swore to me he read my thesis-- swore! **Sob**).

On a secondary note, LOLManuscripts and the fascinating exchanges each one occasions really make me miss my old department. So far I've met very few people here who would make connections between 17th century manuscripts, Charlie Daniels, date rape, "titties 'n beer", etc. My FSU degree is becoming more precious by the second.

Doug said...

Ok, I will admit that I should have considered Satan's role in monstrous births before making my comment. Now I have one last question: If Satan impregnates you will Satanicat still grant you an abortion? Is your soul even worth an abortion if you've already been impregnated by the Devil?

Stacey said...

I read a book a long time ago about witch orgies (or maybe they were pilgrim parties that got out of hand, I don't remember) where Satan ravages the women one by one. Apparently some of the witches reported Satan's penis hot while others claimed it was cold. The theory is that the chap dressed in the devil costume used a dildo after he'd worn himself out on the pretty witches. That's why the ugly witches never seemed to get knocked up with hellspawn.

Sarah Redmond said...

What the hell kinds of books do you read, Stacey? But that is quite a compelling theory. Satan does seem to have sex with a whole lot of witches, and (at least in the movies) he chooses some pretty ladies to have his demonic spawn.

Superfecta said...

I'm a bit late to the game here, but you can find a number of fine recordings of this song -- check out the City Waites version on Musitians of Grope Lane.