Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Meaning: as the OED says "A fabulous creature, half goat, half stag." They are of course using fabulous meaning 'out of fable' but I like the ambiguity.

Usefulness: 2 (Perhaps as an insult? Unless you happen to be haunting the halls of Winchester College, of course.)

Logofascination: 2 (The name is from the Latin for billy-goat and stag; another name is the tragelaph, from the Greek for the same creatures.  The genus to which Kudu belong are called Tragelaphus for this reason.)

In the wild: Michael Quinion found it in Umberto Eco, and has written it up here, and as mentioned in both that and the Wikipedia article, the hircocervus comes to us via philosophy. Plato introduced it as an example* and Aristotle takes it further; if you have the brain-power you can read up on the goat-stag in philosophy here.  It also makes a brief appearance in my favourite passage of The Horologicon; the hircocervus is one of the midnight creatures who gather around.

Degrees: 2

Connections: hircocervus - stag (I could've linked via hirquitalliency, or any of the other goat words, but I liked the stag quote.)

Which is used in: G&P, Book the Third, XXXI: How the physician Rondibilis counselleth Panurge.
The physician counselleth Panurge that if he stays active, he will be able to avoid lechery. He comments on Cupid's accuracy:
He is not, I believe, so expert an archer as that he can hit the cranes flying in the air, or yet the young stags skipping through the thickets, as the Parthians knew well how to do; that is to say, people moiling, stirring and hurrying up and down, restless, and without repose. He must have those hushed, still, quiet, lying at a stay, lither**, and full of ease, whom he is able, though his mother help him, to touch, much less to pierce with all his arrows.
Cupid's mother is, of course, Venus.

*if anyone can give me a definitive source and/or a coherent explanation as to what, it'd be appreciated.
** Lither is discussed here.

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