The pig’s doom: Animal butchery, gender relations, and a new solution for Durham Proverb 10


Durham Proverbs
Old English

How to Cite

Wade, E. (2020). The pig’s doom: Animal butchery, gender relations, and a new solution for Durham Proverb 10. SELIM. Journal of the Spanish Society for Medieval English Language and Literature., 25(1), 187–192.


The Old English and Latin Durham Proverbs are famously obscure. Durham Proverb 10 describes a man sitting on a pig; the man jokes that what happens next is up to the pig. Scholars have read this as a possible marital joke, since the man is called a ceorl or maritus ‘husband’, yet this article suggests that the context is that of pig butchery. Medieval art frequently shows pigs being butchered by a man sitting on top of them to hold them down. Moreover, they often show the butchery performed by a man and a woman, suggesting that this proverb was a reference to an activity that a couple performed together, rather than a sexist commentary on marriage.


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