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From: Nigel Price <NigelPrice1@compuserve.com>
Subject: (urth) Re: Alzabos and Hyenas
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 19:15:35 

Let me offer a deeply obscure and probably irrelevant footnote to the
recent discussion of alzabos and hyenas.

In searching through my copy of the Longman edition of Spenser's "The
Faerie Queene", looking for an entirely different reference, I was
interested to read Professor A C Hamilton's note to FQ III,vii,22,8-9,
relating to Spenser's description of the hyena-like creature that the witch
sends after Florimell.  The two lines of the poem read:

        But likest it to an Hyena was,
        That feeds on womens flesh, as others feede on gras.

On which Hamilton comments:

        "In medieval lore, the Hyena dug up graves to eat the carcasses, 
        and was used by witches.  The Geneva (Bible) gloss to 
        Ecclesiasticus 13.19 cites it as a beast that lures men to devour 
        them.  Rowland (1973) 113 notes that it could typify sexual 
        perversion.  Spenser associates the beast with lust in women 
        and towards women; cf Lust that 'fed on fleshly gore' (IV vii

The only translation of the Deuterocanonicals that I could lay my hands on
was an old NEB, which has the hyena in verse 18 of Ecclesisticus 13, but
the numbering of the verses may well have been different in the Geneva
Bible.  Anyway, the NEB translates Ecclesiasticus 13.18 thus:

        What peace can there be between hyena and dog,
        what peace between rich man and pauper?

I was amused to see that the preceding verse asks a similar rhetorical
question, but this time featuring, yes, you guessed it fellow lycophiles, a

        What has a wolf in common with a lamb,
        or a sinner with a man of piety?

So...a beast that "lures men to devour them."  Sounds like an alzabo to me.

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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