Wednesday, December 3, 2008

rules of good conduct

experimental digital scribble. ib.

As somebody kindly pointed out, the posts have been getting progressively chilly here of late.

In an attempt to inject some warmth, I was aiming for summer but seem to have stumbled back into Autumn in the process. One step forward...

Think Catherine Wheels and one thinks of fireworks. Of Guy Fawkes. The provenance of the Catherine Wheel is decidedly more wicked than pyrotechnical and entertaining.

From A History Of Violence [A Resource for Writers and Other Curious Folks]:

"The Catherine Wheel was a product of the middle ages, especially popular in Germany. The victim's limbs were crushed with blunt objects. His (or her) still-living remains were subjected to the wheel. This meant the mangled arms and legs were threaded through the spokes. The wheel was then hoisted into the air using a long pole. Hungry vultures and crows picked at the body...

A seventeenth-century chronicler wrote the victim looked like, "A sort of huge screaming puppet writhing in rivulets of blood, a puppet with four tentacles, like a sea monster, of raw, slimy and shapeless flesh mixed up with splinters of smashed bones.""

One may be forgiven for surmising that this form of cruel and unusual punishment might perhaps have Roman origins. Indeed, one can safely be excused; the wheel was christened after the purported fate of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, dispatched under the Roman Emperor, Maxentius, during his reign in the early part of the 4th century A.D.

I happened on this fairly gruesome tidbit after listening to some more of the Durutti Column, and the track "Katharine", in particular. A wholly innocent and quite pleasant piece.

A couple of Googles later, and here we are.

Interestingly, too, I seem to have suffered lately from one or two file deletions without any prior consultation as to copyright infringement or notification as to which file - or files - have engaged the wrath of the invisible 'man'. Just a brief e-mail from my hosting provider.


Not that you can see it, but there is actually a medieval depiction of a Catherine Wheel in the above illustration.

1 comment:

ib said...

I'm supposing, too, this is where the Times article on the Stones, circa 1967, got its headline:

"To Break A Butterfly On A Wheel".

Not that I'm attempting to paint myself as a victim, of course. Or alluding to Mars Bars.