1568 Lyon Benoist Rigaud

Vers Aquilon grands efforts par hommasse
Presque l’Europe & l’vniuers vexer,
Les deux éclipsés mettra en telle chasse,
Et aux Pannons vie & mort renforcer.

Much exertion towards the North by
a woman of butch ways
a somewhat masculine-looking lady
a female characterised by a virile attitude to life
some of the above reversed for a womanly man
A horrid offensive close to imperilling all Europe and the whole World,
Two eclipses will present the containments of the drive,
And in Central/Eastern Europe life and death defence projects.

Line 1, OF ‘Aquilon’ generally means the North or North West winds or those compass directions. But it might indicate the Northern Sky which could make the ‘hommasse’ the androgynous planet Mercury.
 Otherwise OF ‘homasse’ said of a female represented a woman inclining to the masculine side of her being – in looks, in ways, in moral perceptions (the leeway some males sympathetically allow themselves but forbid to females generally in matters of sex and violence) etc.

Is this woman a dominant lesbian, a bisexual, deeply transgendered or a superficial cross-dresser? Or is she simply well-muscled? (Male and female have a skeletonal difference and not a muscular one; a female athlete can work up the same muscles as a man can. And she can bear children too.)

Using the reverse case this ‘womanly man’ even stretches to Adolf Hitler who has been rumoured to have been in sexual situations with men in his youth and was described as having a pear-shaped physique (but then such observations are common enough when provoked by hate or fear). The current US President Obama has been similarly smeared as has his present would-be successor Hillary Clinton.

We are so gender sensitive that merely to label hormones as ‘male’ or ‘female’ tends to confuse the issue. In fact all human beings carry both hormones in a greater mix of other hormonal messengers that can be measured by counting relative numbers of units in a cubic cent of blood. Simply catching a cold can cause a hormone production factory to over or under supply so disturbing this calculation. Unfortunately that disturbance is accompanied by disturbed levels of other hormones as the body tries oddly to rebalance itself, a significant ‘design fault’ really! Most people feel miserable with a cold but others feel, say, oversexed as their slightly bizarre hormonal response to a running nose. Male hormone is preponderant in males and increases up to age 18 or thereabouts, after which it will gradually decline by degrees. Females also have male hormone which can cause, in a cocktail of other hormonal disturbances, an inappropriate peak at around age 15 which will pass. Despite certain social conditioning that young women exude a “randy tang” when compared to mature women (Malcom Muggeridge’s words on describing how young women seemed to him as a young man) the feeling of heightened attraction and physical display is just as likely to be their eggs calling for fertilization as the condition of pure lust. As they pass age 30 their sexuality is likely to uplift and after age 40 – in contradiction to severe social mores around the globe which may leave them feeling isolated and even mentally disturbed – they increase in male hormone (and may well decrease in female hormone) potentially reaching a sexually-minded peak similar to an 18-year old boy. A further design fault or God’s little joke? (just jesting)

Whatever, we may anticipate that this woman of the quatrain will be relatively highly sexed at least some of the time and as many people seem fascinated by female sexual attributes of all stripes it’s possible she has attracted a little notoriety.

Line 2, OF ‘vexer’ means to offensively hurt, torment, molest, abuse, harass, persecute or unjustly prosecute.

Line 3, ‘les deux eclypses’ is the reiteration of a simple astronomical-astrological fact; all eclipses occur in briefly separate pairs and cycle ’round that way every time. (By analogy, it could mean two intervals or disappearances.)

Line 4, OF ‘Pannon’ is probably Pannonia, an ancient country and Roman province situated in Central/Eastern Europe to the South and West of the Danube, a territory variously occupied by Hungary, Eastern Austria, Northern Croatia, North-West Serbia, Slovenia, Western Slovakia, and Northern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Quite a choice.

If Aquilon be the isles to the North-West of Continental Europe we may have to consider Queen Elizabeth of England. She never wanted a Consort and claimed to have “the body of a woman, the heart of a man”.

The same might be said of Germany’s Angela Merkel and, in a present sense, of lovely Aung Sung Suu Kyi whose machete-bearing ‘supporters’ must seem dissociated from her graceful self yet they are not, apparently. Many of society’s supposed realities are basic illusions much nicer to believe than the truth of the matter.

In contrast with Eirene the symbolic golden goddess of peace hovering above the Brandenburg Gate (in the sight of which I obtained a fresh piece of the cracked Berlin Wall and saw once-daunting uniforms being dumped at silly prices) the Statue of Liberty in New York portrays a symbolic lady often described as androgynous in appearance. It was gifted to America by France.

Heroic Joan of Arc wore a suit of armour into battle like any man and the French Revolution brought us the symbolic ‘Marianne’. Many allegorical figures represented Liberty and Reason at the time. Marianne came to combine them all. To some extent she was a mannequin for iconographic objects of the Revolution/la République, mainly masculine symbols. Yet Marianne was as much a mother to the Republic as an angered warrior. Ironically the irenic view of the French Republic has prevailed the longest and even now the French will prefer what seems beautiful to what is real, like most of us.

The long-term thrust of the revolution in France was to banish inequalities of all kinds. With notable exceptions, the Old Regime had held courtly women down as daring doers whilst holding them up as civilizers of men, a kind of subtle social service stoking the civilities. A place for this is missing in modern France (or the US or Great Britain) wherein a prevalence of civic powers provokes direct conflicts and open protests in substitution for the festerings of feudal revolution.

Today the man peeping through the crack of the door, the national spy, is behaving in a redundant female fashion (hence the need to exaggerate the masculinity of James Bond) but a woman trooper kicking down the door is necessarily developing masculinized properties.

The Anglo-Saxon concept of ‘gender’ is represented by only one distinct ghetto of a word whereas the nearest French term ‘genre’ requires delimiting to arrive specifically at the sexes. What does this suggest for the gender consciousness at the heart of Anglo-American feminism or for the rhetoric of national personification? Could it be that “Vivre la différence sexuelle!” can only be a truly meaningful statement to someone of French mindset? Whatever, saying that the Nostradamus Centuries have a ‘je ne sais quoi’ sort of ‘Frenchness’ does not explain away one single word of those intuition-churning quatrains.

Incidentally, ‘la Raison’ is jumbled up in the letters of Line 1, likewise ‘la Liberté’, ‘la Révolution’ and ‘la République’ are each in the First Couplet presuming that we may use the ampersand ‘&’ as wild and designate it to represent the missing letter ‘b’. ‘Ancien regime’ and the telling phrase ‘société communautariste’, all-out communitarianism, are each available from the letters of the quatrain as a whole. As is ‘Vivre la différence sexuelle’, it so happens.

We are even now advancing toward a global tyranny under which national rhetorics may not be supplied oxygen and gender discrimination as a genre is being harshly discriminated against. If this quatrain is a present prediction, it looks like a mannish woman is about to purge Northern Europe in this century as foully as a womanish man may have done in the last, just more swiftly it seems.