12th Century Bellydancers in England?!

Duvet

New member
I've just read a 1963 translation of Richard of Devizes "Chronicle of Richard I", where I found this description of the disreputable people you could find in London in 1192 -

"Actors, jesters, smooth-skinned lads, Moors, flatterers, pretty boys, effeminates, pederasts, singing and dancing girls, quacks, belly-dancers, sorceresses, extortioners, night-wanderers, magicians, mimes, beggars, buffoons: all this tribe fill all the houses. Therefore, if you do not want to dwell with evildoers, do not live in London."

Surely there were no belly-dancers in 12th Century London?! I will need to check, but I suspect a free translation is going on here, putting whatever the 12th Century term was into a phrase recognisable by association to the scholar/reader of 1963.
 

Aniseteph

New member
Another vote for translation effect.

A quick Google found another translation online, published 1841:
Stage players, buffoons, those that have no hair on their bodies, Garamantes, pickthanks, catamites, effeminate sodomites, lewd musical girls, druggists, lustful persons, fortunetellers, extortioners, nightly strollers, magicians, mimics, common beggars, tatterdemalions,—this whole crew has filled every house. So if you do not wish to live with the shameful, you will not dwell in London.
The obvious one to have morphed into belly dancers is the lewd musical girls, but no! The sequence matches, which means the belly dancers are the lustful persons. Wow. It would be interesting to have as scholarly interpretation of the original, because from lustful person to belly dancer is a bit of a leap. Maybe the original is something more specific than 1841 could allude to, or has 1963 thrown some personal baggage into the mix? Very intriguing....
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
"...tatterdemalions..." What a perfectly wonderful word. I looked it up and discovered that it means a person dressed in ragged clothing or a ragamuffin. I can ever use it in a sentence now: "When I work with the horsoes, I prefer to avoid jodhpurs and boots in favor of clothing that speaks to my tatterdemalion sense of equine fashion."

Garamantes were thought to be desert nomads in the Sahara until excavation of their cities took place in 1960. Another great word though not one I can imagine working into every day conversation like I can tatterdemalions.
 

Duvet

New member
So, at first glance we seem to have North Africans and bellydancers in 12th Century London! Reckon I need to track down the original Latin and see for myself.
 

Duvet

New member
The original Latin word that got translated into ‘belly-dancer’ in 1963 was “crissariae”, which was a term used to indicate a woman who enjoyed having sex. It originated from “a verb applied to the movements of a woman's lumbar region during sexual intercourse.” So, basically, for the scholar of 1963, a woman who wiggled her hips in a sexual manner was a 'bellydancer'.

As to the Africans - "garamantes" is in the original. The only idea I can work out is that Tacitus called them "an ungovernable tribe and one always engaged in practising brigandage on their neighbours". I don't think the word was being used as a term of ethnicity.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Ooo, you are my newest word hero, Duvet. Crissariae: I'll FIND a way to work this one into a sentence. :)
 

Aniseteph

New member
This forum is so educational!

It is still a bit of a jump from being a female who enjoys sex and/or moves her pelvis thusly to being a belly dancer, but l like that the 1963 translator was thinking it through, sort of. Fascinating.

Wonderful words. I would so like to go and practice brigandage on my neighbours just for the sound of it, but I am too nice. Or be a tatterdemalion. I'm wearing some pretty hideous grey yoga pants right now.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
(Sidles up to a guy in the bar and whispers, "So, you want to commit brigandage with a tatterdemalion crissariae?")
 

Duvet

New member
(Sidles up to a guy in the bar and whispers, "So, you want to commit brigandage with a tatterdemalion crissariae?")
If thirst ever struck in the day,
Then down to my local I’d stray,
And prop up the bar
As I sampled a jar
Of the ales that they had on display.

But once, as I stood there mid-sup
A woman slunk quietly up,
And in whispers outlandish
Offered me some brigandage,
And to watch her tee-shirt get torn-up.

I didn’t have much time to think,
And blurted before I could blink;
“You offend with your carry-on,
You tatterdemalion.
Go crissari another man’s drink!”
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
It's just as well I'm past childbearing age; might be tempted to name twins Christopher and Crissaria.
 
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