VI 84 TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE?
Celuy qu’en Sparte Claude ne peut regner,
Il fera tant par voye seductiue :
Que du court, long, le fera araigner,
Que contre Roy fera sa perspectiue.
Line 1 features a proper name/two names, ‘Sparte Claude’. Claude is a proper noun in more than one language. OF ‘Sparte’ is Sparta.
Should it have been misheard in the print shop it could have been OF ‘se parte’, separate. Together with Latin-French ‘claudere/clore’, which sometimes meant surrounded or hidden, we can see that ‘sparte claude’ could be a fanciful confection carrying the message ‘separated and hived-off’.
Likewise we may find OF ‘se partager’, meaning to share, ‘se séparer’, to separate, ‘se répartir (en deux groupes)’, to divide (into two groups) and all of these could suggest or equate with OF ‘se mi-partir’, halved or half-way.
I don’t know … I’m not satisfied yet … let’s go further.
Agesilaus II (he died around 370 BC) was King of Sparta, a Greek city-state. He was largely credited for his country’s military advances during his reign. He was lame from birth which should have interfered with his eligibility (as the Kings of Sparta had to be excellent warriors) but he unexpectedly became a ruler at about age 45. It has been suggested that ‘claude’ was once used to mean lame and it’s true that in modern Fr. we can find ‘claudus’, ‘cludus’, ‘clodus’ and ‘claudius’ all suggesting lame.
Line 2, OF ‘seductive’ seems to be a word out of its time as it isn’t at all easy to find in OF (although I seem to recall OF ‘seductif’ but that must be a false memory). Whereas OF ‘souditor’ meant a seducer, and OF ‘suzduitor’ meant a doctor, the OF ‘séduire’ simply meant to lead down the wrong path into error, to abuse or make corrupt whilst seeking to please. I would guess that Nostredame lifted his word ‘seductive’ directly from Latin but what does he mean by it?
An ‘overt narcissist’ is a showbizzy, outgoing and often loud personality who attracts others and can hold sway over a circle of admirers from divers backgrounds who see him/her as larger-than-life and are easily persuaded that some social importance attaches to this star turn. This “narcissist’s circle” is, in a sense, seduced by the narcissist both individually and as a group but not necessarily sexually seduced, more a Pied Piper of Hamlin magnetic effect. Some leaders do captivate their followers by dint of personality and ‘seductive’ might be better understood today as ‘charismatic’.
Line 3, OF ‘court’ may sometimes mean the same as the English court but the usual translation is ‘short’. Sparta’s King Agesilaus was a notably short man. The French duc de Maine, legitimized bastard son of Louis XIV, was favoured at Court from a very early age. He became Colonel of the Swiss Guards when only four.
In OF the noun ‘araigner’ is a spider. OF ‘toile d’araignée’ would be a spider’s web. Is ‘araigner’ used here as a representational word for the weaver or the weaving of a web of intrigue? The Duke of Maine had one leg shorter than the other. “Que du court, long, le fera araigner” could possibly acknowledge this yet simultaneously make reference to the King Agesilaus.
This Sparte Claude cannot reign,
He will do much through charismatic ways:
That of the short, the long, will make a spider (web),
He will watch out for those against the King.
Which other lame royal of History cannot reign, does much by personality, creates tangled webs and watches out for those against the King? The lame Duke of Maine, the eventually legitimized and favourite son of Louis XIV of France was appointed regent by him until Louis’s legitimate grandson, the King Louis XV, should come of age. This lasted only a day or two as he was bettered by the duc d’Orleans as the latter succeeded in having the dead king’s will legally cancelled in a deal with the Paris parlement and became the sole Regent of France, Philippe d’Orleans. Maine and his wife then took part in a conspiracy against him and were arraigned, found guilty and punished.
This quatrain fairly convincingly covers two historic personages at the same time, the main one being Agesilaus because of the proper noun Sparte. The letters of the identities ‘Agesilaus le Seconde Roi de Sparte’ and ‘Le régent prévu de la France Louis-Auguste’ are separately jumbled into the wording of quatrain VI 84.
The curious phrase “Sparte Claude’ is quite reminiscent of Horace’s expression “Sapere aude”, or Dare to Know, which through Kant became the watchword for the Age of Enlightenment (and is still employed by educationalists despite that they often possess acquired or book Knowledge from the outside-in rather than the hearted Knowing of a subject from the inside-out.)
The final line is subtly ambiguous. Though thwarted in this duty, the Duke de Maine had been charged by his father Louis XIV before he died to take care of the young new King. And the Kings of Sparte always came in pairs, two kings at a time, and they looked out for one another.
NIGELRAYMONDOFFORD (C) 2017