Marginalia, no.78

Witness the elephant who was rival to Aristophanes the grammarian in the love of a young flower girl in the city of Alexandria… They tell also of a dragon in love with a girl, and a goose smitten with the love of a boy in the town of Asopus, and a ram that was suitor to the minstrel girl Glaucia; and every day one sees monkeys furiously in love with women.

~ Montaigne, Apology for Raymond Sebond

Could it really have been every day in sixteenth-century Bordeaux that one saw monkeys ‘furiously in love’ with women?  To borrow L.P. Hartley’s famous phrase, the past is a foreign country.  And so is France.  Of course, French women are famous lookers, so one can hardly blame the monkeys.  But perhaps Montaigne had in mind local men who were uncommonly grabby and hairy.

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