"Cock" = rooster

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jul 6 01:58:10 UTC 2006

Maybe it's a different painting, Wilson, but the one I saw reproduced about twenty or so years ago depicting Roman soldiers scourging Christ.  At least one of the scourges looked and was positioned exactly as you describe, though I don't recall noticing the "shower" element.

  I'd say the painting was indeed from (roughly) the 15th C., but I don't know the name or nationality of the artist or the title of the book it was in. (The book was new around 1980-85, had lots of color pictures, and may have been a slick, middlebrow work on sex in history.) The picture may have been a manuscript illumination rather than a full painting.

  Anyway, it was disturbing.


Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Wilson Gray
Subject: Re: "Cock" = rooster

The derivation is intuitively obvious. ;-) The faucets look like
foot-long, flaccid dongs. They only vaguely resemble today's faucets
with attachments for opening and closing. From the point of view of
the engraving, all that can be seen are curved pipes apparently
hanging from the crotches of a couple of the men. They are turned
partially away from us, eliminating any need for the artist to account
for the fact that no scrotum-like objects appear in the picture.
Unless a person is a charter member of the Clean-Minded Club, the
visual pun is inescapable. Nothing else need be taken into
consideration. As soon as I saw it, I thought, "So, that's why a penis
is called a 'cock'! Because it LOOKS LIKE one!"

Dating is not a problem. I don't remember the date of the engraving,
but, IIRC, it was from the same period, ca.15th c., as what is
probably the best-known work of the type: an oil painting of the
scourging of some saint(?). Looked at the right way, the painting can
be interpreted as a representation of a couple of guys
golden-showering a third: the handles of the scourges are the men's
penises and the ropes(?) of the scourges are streams of urine.

If anyone cares enough, I'll try to track down the book. Then,
assuming that I'm successful, if your - i.e. anybody's - local library
doesn't already have it, you can get it through interlibrary loan and
see whether you see what I saw. If you do, then we no longer need
struggle with the male-chicken conundrum.


On 7/5/06, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: "Joel S. Berson"
> Subject: Re: "Cock" = rooster
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Is the derivation that clear? (OED2 merely says "perhaps.")
> And what do we say about Manneken Pis, which (according to Wikipedia
> at least) probably dates to the 15th century? Because both a cock
> (faucet) and a cock (penis) can both pass water, therefore the latter
> usage derives from the former?
> Joel
> At 7/4/2006 10:50 PM, you wrote:
> >Charlie, the derivation is from the "cock" that means "faucet," now
> >obsolescent, if not fully obsolete, except in a few words such as
> >"petcock" and "stopcock." The basis of my claim is this.
> >
> >About a quarter-century ago, I was paging through a book on homosexual
> >symbolism in art. Among the examples provided by the author(s?) was an
> >engraving of a small group of naked men in a large, indoor, public
> >bath. They were gathered together at one end of the pool. The
> >perspective was such that, at first glance, it appeared that some of
> >the men had their hands on the flaccid, dripping penes / penises of
> >the other men, who were hung like horses. However, at second glance,
> >it was clear that the men were merely standing around the cocks
> >(faucets) used to fill the pool and some of them just happened to be
> >resting their hands on the said cocks (faucets), whose shape
> >coincidently and conveniently happened to be like unto that of a
> >flaccid penis.
> >
> >That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
> >
> >-Wilson
> >
> >On 7/4/06, Charles Doyle wrote:
> >>---------------------- Information from the mail header
> >>-----------------------
> >>Sender: American Dialect Society
> >>Poster: Charles Doyle
> >>Subject: Re: "Cock" = rooster
> >>-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >>
> >>Not to flog a dead dolphin here, but let me reiterate:
> >>
> >>The question was not whether a male chicken
> >>SYMBOLIZES "sexuality" (in many instances, literary,
> >>subliterary, and iconographic, it obviously has). Rather it
> >>was whether 'penis' was a denotative meaing of the
> >>WORD "cock" at certain points in history--a very different
> >>(though obviously not unrelated) matter.
> >>
> >>--Charlie
> >>_______________________________________
> >>
> >>---- Original message ----
> >> >Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2006 20:05:16 -0400
> >> >From: Wilson Gray
> >> >Subject: "Cock" = rooster
> >> >
> >> >---------------------- Information from the mail header ----
> >>-------------------
> >> >Sender: American Dialect Society > >>L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> >> >Poster: Wilson Gray
> >> >Subject: "Cock" = rooster
> >> >------------------------------------------------------------
> >>-------------------
> >> >
> >> >Alison writes:
> >> >
> >> >On the Cock thread, no-one who has ever kept chickens could
> >>be in any doubt about the appropriateness of considering a
> >>cock to be a symbol of sexuality. Roosters whole existence
> >>seems to be wholly given over to strutting, bragging and
> >>chasing hens.]
> >> >
> >> >Not to mention abusing them. When a rooster is through with
> >>a hen, he will strike her with his spurs, if she doesn't get
> >>out of his way quickly enough.
> >> >
> >> >-Wilson
> >>
> >>------------------------------------------------------------
> >>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
> >------------------------------------------------------------
> >The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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