Special Sub-Topic: My True Love Guild to Me - 2nd Day
|On the 2nd day of Christmas my true and dearest love, Lady Haversham, gave me two turtle doves in a large gilded dovecote. I asked her: "Dearest Lady, where does the name "turtle" dove come from?" To which, she graciously replied:
From the onomatopoetic Latin word "turtur". One can make a case that the journey of the term "turtle dove" begins with a Hebrew word for dove ("tor"). The Latin equivalent "turtur" likely evolved as a reduplication from its pan-Palestinian root which mimics the sound of a dove ("turrrrr..turrrr") during mating season.
By the eleventh and twelfth centuries a diminutive form of the Latin "turtur" had evolved in Europe ("turtle" in England - "tortola" in Moorish Spain), possibly as a hypocorism (pet name) between romantic lovers. This may have occurred due in part to the feudal concept of "courtly love" (as exemplified in the Arthurian and other romantic legends).
Further symbolic developments of dove imagery during the Middle Ages through troubadours, trouvères (poets), bestiaries, fables and other cultural forms, solidified a pair of "turtle doves" as representative of "true" romantic love and fidelity.
It is no wonder, then, that they are the 2nd gift given by true lovers during the 12 days of Christmas.
|During early morning coffee in our sunlit breakfast nook, I recalled to Lady Haversham that blessed Mary and Joseph waited forty days to take two turtle doves to the temple at Jerusalem after the birth of their son. She added: "Yes, my love, and while there, they met a "just and devout" man whose grateful prayer is still recited every night by many Christians." To which of the following men did my Lady Haversham refer?|
Simeon. In the Christian liturgical calendar, February 2nd (known as Candlemas) acknowledges the ritual offering by Mary and Joseph of two turtle doves at the Jerusalem temple forty days after the birth of Jesus. The rite is required by Jewish law (Leviticus 12:1-8).
Luke (2:22-32) relates that when Mary and Joseph arrived at the temple, "...there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was just and devout awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: 'Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.'" (paraphrased from various translations).
Simeon's short prayer, now called the "Nunc Dimittis", is recited daily by various Christian traditions in their "Evening Prayer" (Anglican), "Compline" (Roman Catholic) or "Vespers" (Eastern Orthodox) liturgies. It is the equivalent of a prayer "before bedtime".
|While my true love, Lady Haversham, and I finished our morning breakfast, I was somewhat chagrined at not being exactly certain of the symbolism in her gift of turtle doves! What was she trying to tell me with her gift? When I asked my lovely Lady the meaning of her turtle doves gift, she provided excellent information by introducing me to which?|
A Bestiary. The symbolic "meaning" of animals in everyday life developed over many centuries and was systematically gathered together in the form of bestiaries in the Middle Ages. The earliest known text in the form of a bestiary was a summary of ancient knowledge and understanding of animals, compiled under the title "Physiologus" by an unknown Greek author in the 2nd century CE. "Physiologus" served as a template for subsequent medieval compilations, which added Christian moral and religious symbolism in the belief that all earthly creatures, made in God's image, had some intrinsic meaning or purpose on earth.
The following paraphrases represent a few excerpts on the turtle dove from subsequently written bestiaries.
Isidore of Seville (c. 620 CE) "Etymologies:" 'The turtledove is a modest bird that always stays in solitary places or on the tops of mountains.'
Hugh of Fouilloy (c. 1140 CE) "De Avibus:" 'The turtledove has only one mate, to which it is always faithful; if that mate should die, it will never take another, and will thereafter never sit on anything green. Turtledoves always sit in the desert, but sometimes come to the gardens of the poor and to laborer's fields to gather seeds. In winter when they moult they live in hollow trees. They love solitude. To protect its young from wolves, the turtledove spreads squill leaves over its nest, which it builds in soft and delightful places.'
Guillaume le Clerc (c. 1170 CE) "Bestiaire:" 'Now I must tell you of another bird which is courteous and beautiful, and which loves much and is much loved. This is the turtle-dove. The male and the female are always together in mountain or in desert, and if perchance the female loses her companion never more will she cease to mourn for him, never more will she sit upon green branch or leaf. Nothing in the world can induce her to take another mate, but she ever remains loyal to her husband. The turtle-dove...remains patient and faithful to her companion, waiting if haply he might return.'
Leonardo da Vinci [notebooks] (c.1490). 'The turtle dove never does his mate a wrong. If one of them dies, the other will practice a perpetual chastity, never again sitting on a green branch or drinking clear water.'
Incidentally, a cartomancer told fortunes with cards; a necromancer called forth spirits of the dead and an apothecary was the medieval equivalent of a modern pharmacist.
|Later in the morning, I chauffeured Lady Haversham into town for an appointment. As we passed by the local cinema, I reminded my true love that a "turtle dove" might not always signify loyalty and love. Some years before, we had both seen Martin Scorsese's movie "Gangs of New York". The movie's narrator, Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio), described the character Jenny (Cameron Diaz) in unsavory terms as a "turtle dove". He described Jenny as which?|
A thief who disguises herself as a housemaid. In the movie "Gangs of New York", the main character Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) describes Jenny (Cameron Diaz) in a narrative voice-over as she prepares to enter and rob the home of a wealthy businessman, Henry Von Cataco. Amsterdam Vallon offers the following description: "Jenny was a Bluget, a girl pickpocket and a turtle dove. A turtle dove picks out a fine house, disguises herself as a housemaid and robs you blind. It takes a lot of sand to be a turtle dove."
As it turns out, the small, un-credited cameo role of the wealthy homeowner Von Cataco was performed by none other than Martin Scorsese himself.
|Returning from town, Lady Haversham and I were served brunch in the orangery where my true love had installed the gilded dovecote with its two Christmas turtle doves. She had invited a few members of her literary club to attend our late morning levee. Lately, the club has been reading the works of Harry Turtledove. He can best be described as a pre-eminent author of which?|
Alternative History. If you've ever wondered how history would have been different if, say, Edward VIII had not renounced the throne; or if Abraham Lincoln had not been assassinated, then Harry Turtledove is your man. Since 1979 he has been writing in a sub-genre of science fiction called "alternative history", exploring history as it might have been. From early Greek history, to the Byzantine Empire, to the American Civil War, to World War II, he presents fictional accounts a world which might have existed if only certain facts had changed.
|My dear Lady Haversham, my one true love, made sure the gilded dovecote had a green and growing omono bonsai tree inside it, upon which the turtle doves could perch contently. As demonstrated by Botticelli's portrait of Giuliano de' Medici (1478), my Lady Haversham knew that a turtle dove perched on a dead branch was symbolic of which?|
The person in the portrait or their true love was deceased. If the painting had been a Botticelli self-portrait, there is historical evidence to suggest that "the person in the portrait or their true love is gay" might be the correct answer. However, the correct answer is "the person in the portrait or their true love was deceased."
In Botticelli's portrait of Giuliano de' Medici one finds a turtle dove perched on a dead branch in the foreground. According to medieval imagery, the symbolic dove, which mates for life, will never perch again on a green branch after its mate has died.
It is not known if the dove of Giuliano de' Medici's portrait refers to Giuliano himself (who was assassinated in 1478) or to the death two years earlier of his reported lover Simonetta Vespucci.
Simonetta Vespucci has long been considered the probable model for many of Botticelli greatest female representations, including "The Birth of Venus". Interestingly, Botticelli himself was buried at the feet of Simonetta's grave in 1510, 34 years after her death.
|My Lady Haversham's gift of two turtle doves at Christmas was brought to mind when I found a musty volume of Shakespeare's poetry in our balconied library. In Shakespeare's poetic elegy "The Phoenix and the Turtle [Dove]," the birds of the air were invited to mourn the deaths of two avian lovers (a phoenix and a turtle dove). Which bird was specifically banned from attending the funeral rites? |
The Screech Owl. Shakespeare's allegorical poem, published in 1601, may have been a thinly disguised reference to the romance between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. Its exact interpretation is widely debated. In the poem, the birds who are specifically invited to attend the funeral rites are:
The Eagle (Stanza 3): "From this session interdict every fowl of tyrant wing, save the eagle, feather'd king:"
The Swan (Stanza 4): "Let the priest in surplice white...be the death-divining swan...."
The Crow (Stanza 5): "And thou, treble-dated crow... mongst our mourners shalt thou go."
However, the Screech Owl is specifically banned from attendance.
(Stanza 2): "But thou, shrieking harbinger...to this troop come thou not near."
|At mid-afternoon, I signed for a package delivered at our grand foyer with its ornamental suit of armor guarding the entry. I smiled as I saw that Lady Haversham, my one true love, had decorated the armor's breastplate with an etched turtle dove. In the great European literary works of the "Holy Grail" legend, only one country's epic tale described the turtle dove as a breastplate emblem that denoted a knight in search of the Holy Grail. Which country? |
Germany. Only German author Wolfram von Eschenbach portrayed a turtle dove as the emblem of a knight in search of the Holy Grail in his medieval masterpiece "Parzival" (c. 1225).
Great Britain's "Le Morte d'Arthur" (Sir Thomas Mallory, 1485) and France's "Perceval" (Chrétien de Troyes, c. 1190) both employed the Crusaders' breastplate of armor adorned with a Crusader's red cross as emblematic of a worthy knight in search of the Grail.
While Spain has many epic tales, not even one example of its epic literature revolves around the noble search for the Holy Grail - yet the supposed Grail of myth and lore is venerated in modern times as a relic housed at the Cathedral of Valencia, Spain. The "Valencia Grail" was the official papal chalice for many popes, and has been used by many others, most recently by Pope Benedict XVI, on July 9 2006.
|At twilight, my true love and I took a leisurely walk through the topiary garden surrounding the reflection pool. I shared with Lady Haversham my thought that the inclusion of turtle doves in the 12 days of Christmas gifts might have been influenced by Ibn Hazm's 11th century poem "The Ring [Necklace] of the Dove". In which city did he write his only work of secular literature? |
Xàtiva, Spain. "The Ring [Necklace] of the Dove" was written in 1027 by Moslem theologian and legalist Abu Muhammad `Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Sa'id Ibn Hazm.
Born in 994, Ibn Hazm lived as a devout Moslem in the Umaiyad Caliphate of Cordoba, Spain until the demise of the Caliphate in 1030. During the last years of the Caliphate's existence, Ibn Hazm became a wandering refugee throughout the northern Spanish peninsula. Finding himself in the relative security of Xàtiva, Spain in 1027, he fulfilled a promise to one of his Moslem patrons and authored "The Ring of the Dove." By the time of his death in 1064, all of his writings had been publicly burned in Seville during the Reconquista, leaving only a few previously copied manuscripts in existence.
The request of his Moslem patron had been for Ibn Hazm to compose a treatise on love from a Moslem perspective. Ibn Hazm's "apologia" approaches poetic literature and matches the idealized portrait of "courtly love" espoused by the 11th century Christian troubadours.
Modern scholarship has noted the mutual influences within Hispano-Arabic literature and cites Ibn Hazm as a primary source of cultural interconnectivity.
|At the end of this 2nd day of Christmas, Lady Haversham and I snuggled together in our marbled four-poster, damask-canopied bed; the two turtle doves off in the orangery fast asleep. "Lord Haversham, you are my one and only handsome turtle dove!" cooed my lovely Lady (her reference being Song of Songs Chapter 5). In my best W C Fields imitation, I cooed back with "My love and my Lady, you are my one and only little chickadee!" What is another term for the "pet names" we of the nobility called one another?
hypocorisms. The term "hypocorism" derives from the Greek "korizesthai" (to caress) and further from "hypokorizesthai" (to call by a term of endearment).
Strictly speaking, "hypocorism" refers to a term of endearment usually formed by  the abbreviation of a formal name (such as Bill for William or Cindy for Cynthia); or  the addition of a diminutive suffix to a given name ( "ito/ita" or "in/ina" in Spanish, "chen" or "lein" in German; "ino/ina" or "etto/etta" in Italian, etc.); or  duplication of a given name (Tom-Tom or Gi-Gi). In a wider sense, a hypocorism also applies to adult baby talk ("goo-goo", "da-da", "boo-boo", etc.).
Hypocorisms can also be used as a dismissive, condescending or mocking term with just a slight inflection in the tone of the speaker. Perhaps the most frequently used English hypocorism is the word "bye-bye".
"Ta-ta!" for now, FT players. I hope you enjoyed this small "turtle dove" holiday gift from the Quiz Makers Guild. French hens tomorrow! Yum-yum.
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