"jewels" as "family jewels" (genitals) in 1450?

Page Stephens hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Mar 2 23:13:30 UTC 2009

Any relation to:
Cornelia Africana
>From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cornelia Scipionis Africana (born ca. 190 BC - died 100 BC) was the second
daughter of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the hero of the Second Punic
War, and Aemilia Paulla. She is remembered as a perfect example of a
virtuous Roman woman.
Cornelia married Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus or Tiberius Gracchus Major
when he was already in an advanced age. The union proved to be a happy one
and together they had 12 children, very unusual for Roman standards. From
these only three survived childhood: Sempronia, married to her cousin
Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, and the brothers Tiberius and Gaius
Gracchus, who would defy the political institutions of Rome, with their
attempts at popular reforms. After her husband's death, she chose to remain
a widow, even when the suitor was king Ptolemy VIII Physcon, and set herself
to educate her children. Later in her life, Cornelia studied Latin and Greek
language and literature. Cornelia always supported Tiberius and Gaius, even
when their actions outraged the conservative patrician families in which she
was born. After their violent deaths she retired from Rome to a villa in
Misenum, but continued to receive guests.

Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, by Noël Hallé, 1779 (Musée Fabre)
An anecdote, likely invented, demonstrates Cornelia's devotion to and
admiration for her sons. When women friends questioned Cornelia about her
mode of dress and personal adornment, which was far more simple and
understated than was usual for a wealthy Roman woman of her rank and
station, Cornelia indicated her two sons and said, "These are my jewels." A
large statue on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, entitled
"These Are My Jewels," makes allusion to this story. It is surmounted by a
figure of Cornelia, personifying the state of Ohio, with arms wide spread,
and arrayed before her are the state's "jewels" - military and political
leaders who contributed to the Union Cause during the American Civil War.

Rome worshipped her immaculate virtues and when she died at an advanced age,
the city voted for a statue in her honour.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
Sent: Monday, March 02, 2009 5:18 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] "jewels" as "family jewels" (genitals) in 1450?

> Under "jewel, n.", sense "3. fig. Applied to a thing or person of
> great worth, or highly prized; a 'treasure', 'gem'", the OED (1989)
> has the following quotation:
> a1450 Mankind (Brandl) 426 {Ygh}e xall not choppe my Iewellys [---my
> privyte (cf. 414)] and I may.
> Noting "my privyte", is this an early -- perhaps the earliest? -- use
> of "jewels" to mean "male genitals"?
> (The OED does not have this sense under "jewel".)
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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