The illustration comes from The History of Reynard the Fox. In this 15th century woodcut, we see Tybert the Cat castrating a village priest. Incidentally, “Tybert” is spelled in two other ways, namely ‘Tibert’ and ‘Tybalt’. Unusually, there is absolutely nothing on the Internet which would explain why Tybert the Cat castrated a village priest in the 15th (or earlier) century!
Please click on the link below to see this illustration of Tybert the Cat castrating a village priest. The illustration has to be on a page where there are no adverts. This is because it is a little bit gruesome 😕 and some advertisers won’t like it. Sorry about that but you will remain on this page so you can get back to it by clicking on the tab or the back button on a smartphone.
Reynard the Fox is a “beast epic” in the words of Katharine M Rogers in her book “Cat”. She tells me that it was ‘written down’ in 1250. It portrays a ruthless world in which the ruling class are the large predators and the peasants are the small predators. The relatively weak small predators had to survive on their wits. Tybert the Cat is cunning, but second in cunning to Reynard the Fox himself.
The cat has to have guile as a useful ‘resource’ for the small predator who deserves sympathy. Reynard the Fox is a mediaeval fable. Fables are stories in which animals are anthropomorphized i.e. humanized to tell a story about morality. Reynard came up against Tybert the Cat and caused trouble for other animals.
Tybert is also called the ‘Prince of Cats’. He is a secondary character to Reynard in the fables. Apparently, he is often mocked and tricked by Reynard and gets up to some strange adventures.
I’ve not read the book as you can imagine. I’m trying to work out why Tybert the Cat is castrating a village priest! I would like someone to explain in a comment, please.
It’s almost impossible to work it out without knowing more. Perhaps I might suggest something from a modern 21st-century perspective. The human is the top predator on the planet. The cat is a small predator, as explained, and demands sympathy. The human has persecuted the domestic and feral cat and still does in many places and under some cultures. Think Aussies for instance! Click this to read a recent article.
Arguably the human is procreating too quickly – David Attenborough has called humankind a disease. In ever greater numbers and therefore in ever greater activity humankind is destroying the planet through climate change a.k.a global warming.
The human is also destroying the habitats of wild animals in many other ways. In the woodcut, the cat is symbolically stopping humankind procreating in order to save the planet and himself 🙂 .
It’s an amusing idea because I have taken a 15th-century illustration and made it relevant to the 21st-century.
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