This little story of Jean de La Fontaine...

Was pointed out in an email from Notre-Dame de Chrétienté's Jean de Tauriers this morning, noted in this post at Le Salon Beige. It is a pretty fable; the earliest recorded telling of it is in the Bibliotheca historica of Diodorus Siculus, 19.25, wherein Eumenes is attempting to persuade the camp... to turn left or right, or go forward-- I was not much interested in reading the context of the embryonic fable; it was, even then, "a tale, one of the traditional time-worn stories"-- and the gist of the story is, that if one is foolish enough to disarm unilaterally (whatever the reason), then expect to be conquered by your enemy or 'enemy': by 'Love', in La Fontaine, by whoever Eumenes was wary of, those 2300 years ago.

To Mademoiselle de Sévigné

Sévigné, so blooming fair!
Whose charms the Graces might adorn,
Except that cold indifferent air
With all their wond'rous beauty born,
Deign me the favour of your ear;
Let no alarm your bosom move,
While you this harmless story hear
Of lion vanquished by love.
Love is a tyrant o'er the heart
Happy they pass their lives away,
Who only know what those impart
Who are the victims of his sway;
To you, perhaps, no welcome lay.
Though I the fact may not unfold,
At least a Fable may be told :
This therefore I present to you,
From grateful zeal so justly due.
In days of old, when beasts could speak,
Lions with others came to seek
Society with human race,
And gain our fair to their embrace.
Why not ? their race then equalled ours
In courage, strength, and reason's powers.
They had besides a flowing mane;
But let me here the tale explain.

A lion of great parents born,
Passing a certain mead one morn,
A pretty peasant maiden spied,
And asked to have her for his bride.
The sire with dread the lion saw,
And wished a milder son-in-law
He was embarrassed how to choose;
’Twas hard to grant, and dangerous to refuse;
Because one might some morning see
A marriage made clandestinely.
The maid liked men with martial air,
And doted on his shaggy hair.
The father soon did this discover,
And dared not send away her lover,
So mildly to the suitor said:
“My daughter's delicately made,
And you might hurt her with your paws;
File down your teeth, and pare your claws;
And she, it cannot be gainsaid,
Will take your kisses with less fright,
And give you hers with more delight.”
The willing lion soon lay down ;
They pared his claws, his teeth they filed.
So easily is love beguiled!
He looked like a dismantled town.
Dogs ware let loose on him amain,
And his resistance was in vain.
0 love! 0 love! when held by you,
To prudence we may say adieu!

That won't properly center on the page, probably because it is too much text. And I can tell that the line spacing is going to be off, too, tsk. Well, on the screen where I type, the text won't center etc but it appears to be just fine when I preview it. Eh.

And I see that I have have spelled the tag 'Note-Dame de...' until five minutes ago, tsk; I corrected a couple of posts but there may be others, tsk.. And the site search engine didn't pull up any uses of the 'Note-Dame de...' tag, so I am left to suppose that it is, if not useless, then useless in important contexts. Tsk. Time for None.

The line 'They had besides a flowing mane' makes me laugh every time I reach it. In La Fontaine it is "Ayant courage, intelligence,/ Et belle hure outre cela." Hure certainly sounds  (well, more or less) like it ought to be 'hair', head of hair (and the translator made a great choice there), but it is 'a coarse, hairy appearance', in a depreciative sort of sense; I imagine that such creatures have a certain charm for some, 'hippy chic' avant la lettre.

After None. It is still interesting me, this hure, which is from the late Latin hura.

Tête du sanglier, du porc, p. ext. de certaines bêtes fauves et de poissons à tête allongée. La hure d'un lion, d'un loup; la hure d'un brochet, d'un esturgeon, d'un saumon. Une hure de sanglier en faïence couronnait un dressoir (Hugo, N.-D. Paris,1832, p. 277).Il se prit à contempler un grand vieux sanglier, de hure énorme, qui, debout sur ses pattes minces, tendait son mufle, mobile et avide, entre ses défenses (Bourget, Disciple,1889, p. 51) :
... la pièce, aux parois de laquelle étaient accrochés comme il se doit dans tout pavillon de chasse des trophées, dix cors, hure de sanglier, pattes de chevreuil, un aigle de mer empaillé, [était] éclairée à giorno par des globes au butagaz... Cendrars, Bourlinguer,1948, p. 395.
HÉRALD. Tête de sanglier ou de dauphin présentée de profil. V. L'Hist. et ses méth., 1961, p. 757.
P. méton., CHARCUT. Préparation à base de morceaux de tête (de sanglier, porc), de langue, de jambonneau liés par de la gelée. Il y avait encore des plats ronds et ovales, les plats de la langue fourrée, de la galantine truffée, de la hure aux pistaches (Zola, Ventre Paris,1873, p. 666).
Fam. [Pour qualifier de façon dépréc. la tête d'une pers.] Tête, visage hirsute, aux traits grossiers. Synon. gueule.C'est un robuste gaillard, une brute noire comme charbon, à la hure hirsute, dont les yeux s'écartent comme ceux d'une bête, dont le nez aplati, avec des narines retroussées jusqu'aux oreilles, tombe sur une épaisse lippe rouge (Faral, Vie temps st Louis,1942, p. 120).Mais entre hommes, on continue à se marteler la hure et à se piétiner les parties (Queneau, Pierrot,1942, p. 115).
Prononc. et Orth. : [y:ʀ] init. asp. Att. ds Ac. dep. 1694. Étymol. et Hist. 1. 1174-76 « bonnet de fourrure » (Guernes de Pont Ste-Maxence, St Thomas, éd. E. Walberg, 5587), sens isolé; 2. ca 1200 « tête hirsute d'une bête féroce » ici, d'un sanglier (Garin le lorr., II, 229 ds T.-L.); 1remoitié xiiies. « tête ébouriffée d'un homme » (Aucassin et Nicolette, éd. M. Roques, XXIV, 14). Orig. inc., prob. germ. en raison du h initial et de la répartition géogr. des formes dial. (v. FEW t. 4, pp. 515b-517; EWFS2). Fréq. abs. littér. : 52. Bbg. Bugge (S.). Étymol. rom. Romania. 1875, t. 4, pp. 361-362. - Lenoble-Pinson (M.). Le Lang. de la chasse. Bruxelles, 1977, p.172, 334.

And, believe it or not, hure is also in English, meaning a cap or the head of a wild animal (as in French)-- both of these obsolete, the former in the 15th century, the latter used in the 19th (by Thackeray, e.g., in Adventures of Philip... which novel I've never read). One cannot link to the Dictionary, ahem. In heraldry, evidently, the term continues in use; prominent 'hooters' (as Tony Hancock says) being as often good things as subjects of mockery.

Etymology: < Old French hure hair of the head, head of man or beast (12th cent. in Littré), in modern French a dishevelled head of hair, head of certain animals; compare medieval Latin hūra ‘pileus villosus’ (Du Cange), early modern Dutch hure ‘caput apri aut cerui’ (Kilian), Old Spanish hura; for conjectures as to the origin, see Diez.

One must speculate about the pileus villosus mentioned in Du Cange: it's a cap made out of what we would call velvet, perhaps. Velour. One of those fabrics that is plushy rather than a thin layer of cloth. There are words for all the specifics involved here but I don't know them, alas. My curiosity is quieted at this point.