Picts to Pietro

Picts, the Caledonians or inhabitants of Albin, i.e. Northern Scotland. The Scots came from Scotia, north of Ireland, and established themselves under Kenneth MAlpin in 843.

(The etymology of “Picts” from the Latin picti (“painted men”), is about equal to Stevens’s etymology of the word “brethren” from tabernacle, “because we breathe therein.”)

Picture (The), a drama by Massinger (1629). The story of this play (like that of the Twelfth Night, by Shakespeare) is taken from the novelletti of Bandello of Piedmont, who died 1555.

Picus, a soothsayer and augur; husband of Canens. In his prophetic art he made use of a woodpecker (picus), a prophetic bird sacred to Mars. Circê fell in love with him, and, as he did not respond to her advances, changed him into a woodpecker, whereby he still retained his prophetic power.

“There is Picus,” said Maryx. “What a strange thing is tradition! Perhaps it was in this very forest that Circe, gathering her herbs, saw the bold friend of Mars on his fiery courser, and tried to bewitch him, and, failing, metamorphosed him so. What, I wonder, ever first wedded that story to the woodpecker?”—Ouida: Ariadnê, i. II.

Pied Horses. Motassem had 130,000 pied horses, which he employed to carry earth to the plain of Catoul; and having raised a mound of sufficient height to command a view of the whole neighbourhood, he built thereon the royal city of Samarah.—Khondemyr: Khelassat al Akhbar (1495).

The Hill of the Pied Horses, the site of the palace of Alkoremmi, built by Motassem, and enlarged by Vathek.

Pied Piper of Hameln (or Hamelin), in Westphalia, a piper named Bunting, from his dress. He undertook, for a certain sum of money, to free the town of Hamelin, in Brunswick, of the rats which infested it; but when he had drowned all the rats in the river Weser, the townsmen refused to pay the sum agreed upon. The piper, in revenge, collected together all the children of Hameln, and enticed them by his piping into a cavern in the side of the mountain Koppenberg, which instantly closed upon them, and 130 went down alive into the pit (June 26, 1284). The street through which Bunting conducted his victims was Bungen, and from that day to this no music is ever allowed to be played in this particular street.—Verstegan: Restitution of Decayed Intelligence (1634).

(Robert Browning has a poem entitled The Pied Piper, which he wrote for little Willie Macready, and did not mean to publish.)

N. B.—Erichius, in his Exodus Hamelensis, maintains the truth of this legend; but Martin Schoock, in his Fabula Hamelensis, contends that it is a mere myth.

“Don’t forget to pay the piper” is still a household expression in common use.

A similar tale is told of the fiddler of Brandenberg. The children were led to the Marienberg, which opened upon them and swallowed them up.

When Lorch was infested with ants, a hermit led the multitudinous insects by his pipe into a lake, where they perished. As the inhabitants refused to pay the stipulated price, he led their pigs the same dance, and they, too, perished in the lake.

Next year, a charcoal-burner cleared the same place of crickets; and when the price agreed upon was withheld, he led the sheep of the inhabitants into the lake.

The third year came a plague of rats, which an old man of the mountain piped away and destroyed. Being refused his reward, he piped the children of Lorch into the Tannenberg.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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