Homeward Bounders (was Re: Bujold Bibliography in Haiku)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Sep 16 12:42:09 EDT 2005

>> On 14/9/05 23:14, "Colin Fine" <colin at kindness.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>>> And while I'm on names - what about Ahasuerus? Why does he bear an
>>> English version of a Latin version of a Hebrew version of a Persian
>>> name? (The same name that comes to us through Greek as 'Xerxes')

Might it be a title rather than a name, like "Boudicca"?  There are three
mentions of an "Ahasuerus" in the bible: one of them is the father of
Darius (Daniel 9,1) whose name was Cyaxares, one comes between Darius and
Artaxerxes, and I can't be bothered to look for the genealogy but I *think*
that would have to be either Cambyses or an imposter pretending to be C's
elder brother, unless he's a confusion for Artaxerxes (Ezra 4,6-7), and one
of them is Esther's husband Xerxes.

Why Paulus von Eizen, bishop of Schleswig, should have given a name that is
always Persian in the Bible (which one assumes a Bishop ought to have
known!) for the Jew he was reported to have claimed to have encountered in
Hamburg in 1542, who said he was the Jew who had told Christ to get a move
on with that cross and been doomed to wander until Christ came back again
for him (which I'd've said happened three days later, but it seems not), is
mysterious, and why Paulus didn't say anything at the time but waited until
he'd been dead for six years to pass the story on to a pamphleteer, is also
somewhat rum.  In the original pamphlet, said to have been written by
someone called Chrysostomus Dudulaeus (who doesn't seem to have existed, or
at least he never wrote anything else) and printed at Leyden by one
Christoff Crutzer (who never printed anything else) the name was given as
Ahasver.  It was a very popular story from the moment it first saw print,
and spread in translation all over the place, and what's more, people kept
(allegedly) seeing the Wandering jew under various names for a long time
thereafter: he even turned up in London just after the Regency and then
near Salt Lake City in the late 1860s.  So it was claimed.  (For my view of
the accuracy of such claims, see the definition of "sea-serpent" in
Chambers Dictionary.)

>On Sep 15, 2005, at 11:41 AM, Elizabeth Bentley wrote:
>> I have only come across this name as the name of the Dowager Duchess's
>> cat in the Lord Peter Wimsey books.
>> Any relevance?

I agree with Otter that this cat was probably named for the Persian ruler
in the King James Bible, and not for the Wandering Jew.  Isn't he mentioned
as being a Persian cat?  His predecessor, Agag, was a blue persian. who had
to be put into a lethal chamber, as the DD feels she herself would prefer
to be when she gets old and sick and a nuisance to herself.  I think that's
what she means to say: it's one of her better ramblings.

and on Fri, 16 Sep 2005 07:53:10 -0600 Otter Perry wrote:

>I would say Ms. Sayers had a very thorough familiarity with the King
>James Bible.  She has another cat -- in a Montague Egg short story --
>named Maher-shalal-hashbaz.  [Isaiah 8]

Thanks for the reference.  I came across that name originally in *What Katy
Did At School*, I think, when they are playing at rhyming games one of
which ends

I've met with Pa-pistical,
That's pat,
But Ma-hershalalhashbaz,
What's that?

But I never bothered to go and check who he was.

Doesn't *do* much in Isiah, does he?  Or is there more about him later?

"Maher-shalal-hashbaz" is the title of a rather nasty short story in the
collection *Hangman's Holiday*, and it is a Monty Egg story, but it hasn't
got the Dowager Duchess in it: the cat in question is the property of a
girl called Jean, who calls him that because he's such a good mouser: "he
hastes to the spoil".  Seems a bit optimistic when naming a kitten, but
perhaps she changed his name when he grew up.  (He answers to "Mash", which
seems to me to be a pity.)


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