[lit-ideas] Geary on Incubi and Succubi

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 1 Jun 2004 16:00:24 EDT

In "My Memphis Memories -- & Other Animals" -- vol. 3, New Series,  Seattle, 
WA -- Geary writes:
>I recall I was in the seminary studying to 
>be a priest and would pray -- sometimes in
>Latin, sometimes not -- all day, every day 
>for a wet dream -- the only 'sex' [sic with scare 
>quotes, sic] we were allowed, now doncha  know. 
R. Paul says that the passage on chess in PI (by Wittgenstein) is _not_  
about tropes -- and that 'This is a king' is LITERAL. I wonder what trope  it 
though, that constitutes Geary's phrase, 'wet dream'. Surely a dream  itself 
is not wet -- or dry for that matter -- nor the dreaming. Is this  paronymy or 
_what_? (cf. Henley, The Wet Dreamers, 'We are the wet dreamers,  although'). 
Anyway, the mediaevals in the list may _not_ be interested to know that  
Geary is here making reference to the well-developed theory (in Aquinas, after  
St. Augustine, etc) of the incubus and the sucubus. More in the ps.
From the OED
Llate L. incubus (Augustine) = cl. L. incubo. Reresented as a  malignant 
demon who lay upon men and women; f. L. <NOBRre to lie upon. Cf. F. incube  
c. in Hatz.-Darm.).]   
A feigned evil spirit or demon (originating in personified  representations 
of the nightmare) supposed to descend upon persons in their  sleep, and 
especially to seek carnal intercourse [with women]. In the Middle  Ages, their 
existence was recognized by the ecclesiastical and civil law. 
1205 LAY. 15783  
Heo Heo ihaten ful iwis incubii demones..monine  mon on sweuene ofte heo  
1330 R. BRUNNE Chron. Wace (Rolls) 8088  
ise spyrites do women schame; Incuby  demones ys cald er name, ffendes in 
bedde..at many woman han forlayn.  
1386 CHAUCER Wife's T. 24  
Wommen may go saufly  vp and doun..Ther is noon oother Incubus but he And he 
ne wol doon hem but  dishonour.  
1387 TREVISA Higden (Rolls) I. 419  
That fend at  <N a  at, Wommen wel ofte to begile, Incubus  hatte be , t.  
1535 STEWART Cron. Scot. II. 221  
Marling also wes in  tha samin dais Into Britane..Ane incobus with subtill 
1584 R. SCOT  Discov. Witchcr.  II. ix. (1886) 26  
They [witches] use  venerie with a divell called Incubus.  
1624 MASSINGER Parl. Love  II. ii,  
I'll sooner clasp an  incubus, or hug A fork-tongued adder.  
1671 MILTON P.R.  II. 152  
Belial, the  dissolutest spirit that fell, The sensualest, and, after 
Asmodai, The fleshliest  incubus.  
1801 W. TAYLOR in Monthly Mag. XII. 421  
Angels, Incubusses,  Saints jostle in his song.  
1865 TYLOR  Early Hist. Man. i. 7  
The evil demons who  trouble people in their sleep, the Incubi and  Succubi.

Med.L., masc. form (with fem. meaning) corresp. to _SUCCUBA_ 
rd=succuba) , after _INCUBUS_ 
w=10&single=1&sort_type=alpha&xrefed=OED&xrefword=incubus) .]   
A demon in female form supposed to have carnal intercourse  with men in their 
sleep. (Cf. _INCUBUS_ 
gle=1&sort_type=alpha&xrefed=OED&xrefword=incubus) .) 

1387 TREVISA Higden  (Rolls) I. 419  
That fend at  <N a  at, Wommen wel ofte to begile, Incubus  hatte be , t; And 
 And men  er while, Succubus is at wight.  
1547 BOORDE Brev. Health cxix. (1870) 78  
Incubus doth  infeste and trouble women, and Succubus doth infest men.  
1584 R. SCOT  Discov. Witchcr.  III. xix. (1886) 56  
The divell plaieth  Succubus to the man and carrieth from him the seed of 
generation, which  he delivereth as Incubus to the woman.  
1644 Merc.  Brit. No. 23. 178,  
I think Incubusses and  Sucubusses are Angells of light to these.  
1647 COWLEY Mistr., Not Fair 14  
So men (they say) by  Hells delusions led, Have ta'ne a Succu'bus to their 
1691 R. KIRK  Secret Commw. i. (1815) 13  
For the Inconvenience  of their Succubi, who tryst with Men, it is 
1797 Encycl.  Brit. (ed. 3) XVIII. 52/2  
The truth is, the  succubus is only a species of the nightmare.  
1818 C. K. SHARPE Law's Memorialls Pref. p. xx,  
For forty years, he  [sc. Benedict of Berne] had kept up an amatory commerce 
with a Succubus,  called Hermeline.  
1950 A. CLARKE Coll. Plays (1963) 315  
Branduv is sleeping  with a succubus.  
1958 L. DURRELL Balthazar vii. 167  
Thirst can be  quenched like this, by inviting a succubus to one's bed.  
1969 J. UPTON  tr. R. Diaz Sánchez's Cumboto 261  
The dream reoccurred  many times, it was the work of a clever succubus who 
came to my cot regularly to  conduct her oneiric concert.  
1977 A. CARTER Passion of New Eve ii. 27,  
I would..remember the  myth of the succubus, the devils in female form who 
come by night to seduce the  saints.

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