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François Rabelais and Cannabis


  André J. Fabre                                                         2007

François Rabelais is certainly one of the most celebrated writers in History  but many chapters of his work remain poorly understood : many unexpected surprises still arise to the modern reader, thus in the Third Book, the long chapter on hemp called cautiously by Rabelais: " Pantagruelion" instead of cannabis or hashish as it was called by the Ancients. 


 This is a wonderful plant described at length in Third Book XLIX [1] :

"The grass Pantagruelion has a small root, hard, plump, slender and white, with little filaments, digging the ground not more than a cubit ... From the root comes a single rod, round, whitish , green outside, white inside: concave leaves are three times as long as wide,  and green ...

From the rod come out large and crafty branches The blades are three times longer than wide, permanently green :. sharp, as Orcanete: hard,, incised as a sickle and as betony:... The smell is strong and unattractive to delicate nose ...

The seed comes to the head of the stem, and slightly below. It spherical, oblong, rhomboid, black, clear, and tanned, hard, covered with delicate dress:

Of difficult concoction, it offenses stomach, creates bad blood, and by excessive heat brings at nocive  vapors to the head  and headaches. "

A further chapter is entitled: " How to prepare and implemente the famous Pantagruelion "?

Here is the recipe: "The first lesson of Pantagruel was to undress the rod from the leaves and seed, soak it in non-stagnant water by five days if the weather is dry and hot water, nine or twelve, if the weather is cloudy and cold water, then dry it in the sun : the shadow will  dissect and separate the fibers (in which, as we said, is all the price and value) of the woody part, which is unnecessary"

The plant, says Rabelais, has multiple medicinal uses "Use of this plant hath been concealed by the ancient philosophers so many centuries" "useful to treat wounds and burns, against spastic pain, cramps and rheumatism ...."

And, at the end, comes a true hymn to the "most wonderful plant. No doubt can remain: "Pantagruelion" is  an explicit reference to cannabis or rather, a veiled reference to it. Of course, could it be otherwise in the XVIth century where hemp was so strictly forbidden by all authorities  ?


In fact, Rabelais, highly erudite doctor was not, strictly speaking adept to the use of hemp but the story of  [2] Pantagruelion, came quite clear for all docents familiar with the Antiquity.


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Date de dernière mise à jour : 30/07/2013

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