Panurge

(2 syl.). A companion of Pantagruel's, not unlike our Rochester and Buckingham in the reign of the mutton-eating king. Panurge was a desperate rake, was always in debt, had a dodge for every scheme, knew everything and something more, was a boon companion of the mirthfullest temper and most licentious bias; but was timid of danger, and a desperate coward. He enters upon ten thousand adventures for the solution of this knotty point. “Whether or not he ought to marry?” and although every response is in the negative, disputes the ostensible meaning, and stoutly maintains that no means yes. (Greek for factotum.) (Rabelais.)

Panurge,
probably meant for Calvin, though some think it is Cardinal Lorraine. He is a licentious, intemperate libertine, a coward and knave. Of course, the satire points to the celibacy of the clergy.

“Sam Slick is the thoroughbred Yankee, bold, cunning, and, above all, a merchant. In short, he is a sort of Republican Panurge.” —Globe.

As Panurge asked if he should marry. Asking advice merely to contradict the giver of it. Panurge asked Pantagruel' whether he advised him to marry, “Yes,” said Pantagruel. When Panurge urged some strong objection, “Then don't marry,” said Pantagruel; to which the favourite replied, “His whole heart was bent on so doing.” “Marry then, by all means,” said the prince, but Panurge again found some insuperable barrier. And so they went on; every time Pantagruel said “Yea,” new reasons were found against this advice; and every time he said “Nay,” reasons no less cogent were discovered for the affirmative.

(Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel, bk. iii. 9.)

Besides Pantagruel', Panurge consulted lots, dreams, a sibyl, a deaf and dumb man, the old poet Rominagrobis, the chiromancer Herr Trippa, the theologian Hippothadée, the physician Rondibilis, the philosopher Trouillogan, the court fool Triboulet, and, lastly, the Oracle of the Holy Bottle.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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