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Title: Sexual horns: the anatomy and metaphysics of cuckoldry in European folklore
Authors: Vaz da Silva, F.
Keywords: Symbolism
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Abstract: The main hypothesis underlying this paper is that tropes and cultural images still in popular usage (but no longer understood) are useful to attain dimensions of worldview that still matter but have, somehow, slipped out of consciousness. Put another way, the following discussion proposes that close examination of folklore illuminates aspects of Weltanschauung fallen into oblivion, if not into inexistence, and thus provides the means for looking anew at quaintly familiar cultural data. The pretext taken is the obscure (if unabated) folk notion of transmissible sexual horns. Any attentive reader of Shakespeare might notice that the recurrent theme of cuckoldry brings embedded the cuckoo, somehow related to the ubiquitous theme of horns. And the intelligent reader may perhaps wonder why cheated husbands should happen to be called after the he-goat (cabrón), and whether this relates to the longstanding trend of calling children “kids.” This article seeks to answer such questions by considering together modern ethnography and ancient sources. Examination of the peculiar notion of sexually transmissible horns, in the perspective of the très longue durée of basic mental categories having endured in European folklore throughout centuries, progressively discloses a sexual anatomy as well as a traditional metaphysics of cuckoldry and procreation. As the discussion unfolds from physiology to cosmology, one understands the importance of horns in Shakespearean usage as much as in, say, Mediterranean mores.
Peer reviewed: yes
DOI: 10.1017/S0010417506000156
ISSN: 0010-4175
Accession number: WOS:000236158000007
Appears in Collections:DA-RI - Artigos em revista internacional com arbitragem científica

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