X 49 THE OVERHANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON
1568 LyonBenoist Rigaud
‘ardin du monde au pres de cité neufue,
Dans le chemin des montaignes cauees,
Sera saisi & plongé dans la Cuue,
‘euuant par force eaux soulfre enuenimees.
Line 1, If the first letter is J then OF ‘Jardin’ = garden whilst if the first letter were N then OF ‘Nardin’ = ‘Indian spikenard’, a fragrance from lemon grass. One meaning of ‘neufue’ is a new trick, i.e. new in the sense of ‘not seen before’ and the old English term for that was ‘nonesuch’ as in ‘nonesuch like it’.
Line 2, OF ‘cavée’ = a gap or hollow or as ‘chemin…cavée’ = chemin creux = sunken road.
Line 3. OF ‘la Cuve’ is EITHER the Cuve village in the Haute-Saone region of North Eastern France OR ‘la cuve’ is the vat or tank OR it means ‘the unisex wrap-round coat’.
Garden of the world near the nonesuch city,
In the path of the hollow hillside,
Will be seized and plunged inside the Cuve,
Made to swallow water adulterated with sulphur.
The first line is clearly referencing the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The city itself was very striking and built on a huge scale. Heredotus writing in 450 BC, two centuries after it was built, calls it the most splendorous city in the world and gives us measurements which the excavations on site show that he exaggerated. Nevertheless, there was nowhere like it on Earth. A wide processional way ran through the centre of the city and all the city roads were navigable by 4-horse chariots.
King Nebuchadnezzar II married Queen Amyitis, daughter of the King of the Medes, but she fell depressed because of the flat empty landscape and she longed for the hillsides and flora of her home. He built a hollow mountain for her and terraced it with trees and bushes, fruits and flowers. Overhanging platforms were loaded with living floral ornaments. It had 14 large basement rooms with arching stone ceilings, one of which had three holes in the ground. Conjecture has it that there was lifting equipment stood there to carry materials to the top which I think would necessarily have housed a great water tank inside. These vaulted terraces upon cube-shaped pillars supporting lofty gardens were worthy of London’s Kew Gardens and the trees living on them too.
This quatrain is always interpreted as an assault on somewhere despite that all its words are positive except the very last. The three holes found in the 100 by 150 ft. basement would be chain buckets or pumps that raised the water to the summit tank of the stone-built ‘hollow mountain’, perhaps by a mighty treadwheel. Definitely the most vulnerable point in the whole enterprise. Surprisingly, Heredotus never even mentioned the giant vertical greenery with floral gardens atop. Had it been attacked by then? Was sulphur plunged into the tank to destroy this living Wonder of the World?
Rose foliage is healthier in our polluted towns because sulphur in the air kills-off leaf disorders. Although sulphur is an element, and does not dissolve in water easily, well-water can often be high in sulphur and using this will reduce the pH level of soil. Mixing sulphur with water does not necessarily destroy vegetation – just the opposite. Plants can have a relatively high sulphur requirement and so it is present in many modern fertilizers. It even has a waste water processing application.
It seems much more likely that quantities of sulphur were being hoisted and plunged into the Tank for beneficial purposes.
Sulphur was abundant in antiquity and bearing in mind that Babylon had temple statues of purest gold, I don’t think a supply of sulphur was a major problem to them.
Of course, there might be a human interest story here: was some poor person hoisted and plunged into the tank? It all depends.
Nostradamus Quatrain X 49 first appeared in the 1568, Lyon, Benoist Rigaud edition but the facsimile fragment worked on here has lost the first letter of the first word in both Line 1 and Line 4.
Line 4. I cannot imagine what the first word should be. If the first word is ‘Beuvant’ then this might come from OF ‘boire’ meaning to swallow liquid or else something painfully absorbed. Or is it some strange verb taken from the noun beuvrage, beverage, meaning to sup? I suppose it might be ‘Seuvant’ meaning ‘Suivant’ or following but that seems too great a printing error. If the first word of Line 4 has a superflous ‘u’ then it could be OF ‘Devant’ = before, or OF ‘Levant’ = the land where the Sun rises. (The Levant is adjacent to and may once have been part of Mesopotamia.) OF ‘soufre’ = sulphur. OF ‘envenimer’ means to corrupt the nature of someone or adulterate something.
As there is no subject/article in Line 3 we are left to wonder whether this is a description of the watering system (as Michel Nostredame took an interest in big irrigation systems) or the plight of some ill-fated mite. Either way, we may be facing something as impenetrable as a correct prophecy but in the backward direction. Nostredame is not only going back to the Sixth Century BC and beyond but supplying us with information on how the hollow ‘Hanging Gardens’ mountain was operated. Something unmentioned elsewhere. It does look likely to include a human element, too. The Cuve is most probably ‘the Tank’ or possibly ‘the robe’. Or maybe both.
Nigel Raymond Offord © 2012