[Milton-L] Apropos of nothing

Hannibal Hamlin hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
Sat Apr 12 12:52:54 EDT 2014

It's all over everywhere, in many churches (Southwark Cathedral for
instance), and in the jewel that Elizabeth I wears in her famous Pelican
Portrait. Whitney has an emblem featuring it, with the motto "Quod in te
est, prome." I write about the pelican figure in *The Bible in Shakespeare*,
since it crops up in *Hamlet* and *King Lear*. I'm not sure where the
Christian interpretation originates, though it's a pretty natural
development. The legend of the pelican's peculiar feeding habit appears in
Isidore of Seville's *Etymologies*, though the story there is a little
weirder (and less Christian). Isidore recounts the story that the pelican
first kills its offspring, and then revives them with its own blood.


On Sat, Apr 12, 2014 at 12:31 PM, Jameela Lares <jameela.lares at usm.edu>wrote:

> Of course the pelican is an iconographic symbol for Christ.  Both the
> Corpus Christi Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge use it for their coats of
> arms.
> Jameela Lares
> Professor of English
> The University of Southern Mississippi
> 118 College Drive, #5037
> Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
> 601 266-4319 ofc
> 601 266-5757 fax
> ________________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [
> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Mario A. DiCesare [
> dicesare1 at mindspring.com]
> Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2014 10:12 AM
> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Apropos of nothing
> I recall that when I was a boy attending Catholic school  the floor of our
> church featured a large mosaic of a pelican feeding greedy little pelicans
> with its blood.  The little guys just pecked happily away.  I don't now
> recall any emotional reaction to the sight, which was gory in a mild way,
> but I do recall that pelicans became interesting to me in various contexts,
> not the least of which sometime later was the line "Pie pellicane Jesu
> Domine" in Thomas Aquinas's wonderful hymn, "Adoro Te," which we sang
> often.  While it is hardly Milton's style, Crashaw no doubt knew the hymn.
> Mario
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Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
Author of *The Bible in Shakespeare*, now available through all good
bookshops, or direct from Oxford University Press at
Editor, *Reformation*
The Ohio State University
164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
Columbus, OH 43210-1340
hamlin.22 at osu.edu/
hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
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