Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Meaning: as a noun, this means a place to swim (generally a pool of some kind, although not always) and as an adjective it applies to things of, or relating to, swimming.

Usefulness: 1 ("Out the back we have our humble natatory." "Urquhart Bluff Beach* seems natatory, but has some dangerous rips." And then there's all the things it could have been applied to during the Olympics: "A dearth of medals natatory has disappointed the nation.")

Urquhart Bluff Beach: not natatory.
Logofascination: 1

In the wild: No, but apparently there is a ligament in the hand commonly called the natatory ligament, although I have been unable to find out why.

Degrees: 1

Connections: n/a

Which is used in: The Thelemes again / still: G&P, First Book (Gargantua) LV: What manner of dwelling the Thelemites had. Following straight on from yesterday's passage, we learn that besides a hippodrome and a tiltyard, they also had:
the theatre or public playhouse, and natatory or place to swim in, with most admirable baths in three stages, situated above one another, well furnished with all necessary accommodation, and store of myrtle-water. By the river-side was the fair garden of pleasure, and in the midst of that the glorious labyrinth. Between the two other towers were the courts for the tennis and the balloon.
Where Urquhart has tennis and balloon, Rabelais has 'les ieuz de paulme & de la grosse bolle'. Jeu de paume is literally the 'game of the palm', or a kind of handball from which tennis evolved. Gross bolle is 'the big ball', as there was a game - called balloon in English - in which the ball was hit with the arm or forearm; it may be one of the ancestors of volleyball.

* Named after William Swan Urquhart, a surveyor, originally of Ross-shire, which borders Cromarty. He may or may not be related to Sir Thomas, but finding this beach on my long weekend was a pleasant co-incidence.  If you're particularly interested in the biography of a Victorian surveyor from the 1800's, see here.

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