“The Naming of Cats is a tough matter,” declares the opening poem in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. However the prospects are many and diverse: “Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James”; “Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter”; “Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat.” Issues should have been simpler within the Center Ages, when you may simply name a cat Gyb and be performed with it. “The shortened type of the male identify Gilbert, Gyb” explains Kathleen Walker-Meikle in Medieval Cats, dates as “a well-liked identify for particular person pet cats” at the very least again to the late fourteenth century.
In a barely totally different type, the identify even seems in Shakespeare, when Falstaff describes himself as “as melancholy as a gib cat.” Gyb’s equal throughout the Chanel was Tibers or Tibert; the sixteenth-century French poet Joachim du Bellay saved a “beloved grey cat” named Belaud.
Authorized texts reveal that the Irish went in for “cat names that consult with the animal’s bodily look,” like Méone (“little meow”), Cruibne (“little paws”), and Bréone (“little flame”). Walker-Meikle additionally highlights Pangur Bán, a cat “immortalized in a ninth-century poem by an Irish monk.” This hymn to the parallel abilities of human and feline begins, in Seamus Heaney’s English translation, as follows:
Pangur Bán and I at work,
Adepts, equals, cat and clerk:
His complete intuition is to hunt,
Mine to free the that means pent.
Frequent Open Tradition readers could also be reminded of the twelfth-century Chinese language poet who wrote of being domesticated by his personal cats, verses we featured here a few years ago. Extra lately, we put up a list of 1,065 Medieval dog names, which run the gamut from Garlik, Nosewise, and Hosewife to Hornyball, Argument, and Filthe. You’ll discover that the names given to canines within the Center Ages appear to have been extra amusing, if much less dignified, than those given to cats. Maybe this displays the sturdy, clearly centuries-and-centuries-old variations between the natures of the animals themselves, every with its personal strengths and weaknesses. However no matter our preferences in that space, who amongst us couldn’t do with a Pangur Bán of our personal?
Associated content material:
A List of 1,065 Medieval Dog Names: Nosewise, Garlik, Havegoodday & More
Cats in Medieval Manuscripts & Paintings
Cats in Japanese Woodblock Prints: How Japan’s Favorite Animals Came to Star in Its Popular Art
T. S. Eliot Reads Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats & Other Classic Poems (75 Minutes, 1955)
In 1183, a Chinese Poet Describes Being Domesticated by His Own Cats
Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embrace the Substack publication Books on Cities, the e-book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by means of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The City in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.