Can we talk about Conformity and Assimilation? The competition of our survival through history we go! When you present yourself with your head instead of your genitals, you’ll get your beard pulled and earn the reputation of wearing your horns.
In his painting “The Actors of the Commedia dell'Arte” (c.1522 - c.1599), Francois Bunel depicts Pantalone, from the commedia street theatre, with two fingers lifted behind his head while his young wife is accepting a note from her lover. The antlers of the deer, who challenge each other to establish their dominance on the gene pool, given over the defeated husband but does it take a wife to give someone horns?
In As You Like It, by William Shakespeare, Orlando isn’t as preoccupied by his commitments to Rosalind as he is by her devotion to him. (4.1.42-67)
My fair Rosalind, I come within an hour of my promise.
Break an hour's promise in love! He that will
divide a minute into a thousand parts and break but
a part of the thousandth part of a minute in the
affairs of love, it may be said of him that Cupid
hath clapped him o' the shoulder, but I'll warrant
Pardon me, dear Rosalind.
Nay, an you be so tardy, come no more in my sight: I
had as lief be wooed of a snail.
Of a snail?
Ay, of a snail; for though he comes slowly, he
carries his house on his head; a better jointure,
I think, than you make a woman: besides he brings
his destiny with him.
Why, horns, which such as you are fain to be
beholding to your wives for: but he comes armed in
his fortune and prevents the slander of his wife.
Virtue is no horn-maker; and my Rosalind is virtuous.
And I am your Rosalind.
It pleases him to call you so; but he hath a
Rosalind of a better leer than you.
We are in a competition we call our survival but there is a game we play and raising fingers is only the foreplay. Shakespeare wasn’t the first or only one to refer to the call of the cuckoo bird as an unpleasant reminder of our survival instinct, for they often lay their eggs in other bird’s nest. Although, the most interesting factor might be their hatching's habit of pushing the other eggs out of the nest before they hatch and compete for food and attention from their parents.
When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
And merry larks are ploughmen’s clocks,
When turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he, ‘Cuckoo;
Cuckoo, cuckoo!’ O, word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!
Terms describe behaviour. Why do birds behave a certain way?
“You can be a rooster one day and a feather duster the next (Frank McManus) and “le coq de la paroisse (the cock of the walk)” are idioms of the agonistic behaviour of a rooster who wears his comb and wattle with dignity. Aggression, threat, submission and usually in that order although assuredly the display of aggression is depending on the environment and odds of surviving.
Let’s call cuckolding for what it is. Competition and natural selection. We are shaped by our insecurities, challenge each other and put our ideas and religion of beliefs in other people’s nest that they should hatch and raise as their own. What about Diversity and Accountability instead of Assimilation and Conformity as a survival instinct? Cuckoldry in biology we go!
A lion receives what is his to have, correct? By observations, females of a pride keep and feed the strongest males for protection and both genders, the lion and the lioness, aren’t the only animals to have polygamous relationships and same-sex display of domination or affection.
Although their reproductive cycle is variable, all females of the pride are usually in heat at the same time and a lioness is typically restricted to one or two males of the pride. In theory, the dominant male has sovereignty until he is tired of her and doesn’t feel any threat from the competition but through studies and analysis, intercourse stimulates her ovaries and we discovered that a litter can be fathered by up to five different males, cuckold by males of different prides and interested nomads.
Considering that a female lays on average two to three hundred eggs, the Variabilichromis moorii fish maintain a socially monogamous relationship but, stipulating that the threat from roaming competition is high, every males are cuckolds and will generally only father a small portion of their own nest.
Are we polyamorous or are we intelligent and capable of adaptibility? Most of those studs are relatives and provide each other the opportunity to broaden their genetic chance of survival while the females’ ovulation isn’t limited to protection from a single male who will protect the nest until their fingerlings leave by themselves to do the same or be eaten, whichever fate they’ll encounter. Juniors and godfathers. Provided that a cuckold male receives equal opportunities, should a nest be ravaged somehow, there you’ll find a survival guide.
An entire story can be painted on canvas and Jan Steen portrayed the horns of the cuck over a new born in the “Celebrating the Birth” instead of over the husband with the big house and key ring, insinuating that the child isn’t his. Historically, men’s presence wasn’t common in the delivery room but there stands a proud man showing off his child as a sign of his virility and righteously accepting the appeals of the young women with ample bosoms that offers to warm up his bed despite an elderly woman’s plea to abstain from pursuing his desires, who could very well be his mother. Did you notice the temptress’s no-harm-done attitude?
The relationship between an artist and his canvas yet the most stagnant detail to me isn’t the men’s behaviour, the symbol of victory over the child’s head, the swinging sausages or every woman working together to distract from the visitor in the back, but the heel of the only one overlooking the entire scene.
Turns out that we have established concepts of survival. Pantalone’s character in the commedia theater is always played as old and greedy, values his wisdom above all and is unaware of his wife’s infidelity although, it is a lord’s royalty to experience his kink. She would offer the horns of her husband as a trophy to any worthy man that crosses her path from the looks of her.
Without a doubt, porn has taught me that old-man Pantalone might be understanding or even grateful towards his young wife. A womanizer, he could be a narcissist and the tissue on his pelvis divulging his devotion to self dedication; so who is cuckolding who? Are we monogamous or do we preserve ourselves wildly?
Hard to tell but leave it to a fool to put others in their misery.
8P Agent of Fortune
References. Big Thank you!
Bunel, F. The Actors of the Commedia dell'Arte [Painting]. Photographic rights held by The Bridgeman Art Library, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Beziers, France.
Morris, S. (2011, May 7). Cuckoos, cuckolds, and the coming of spring. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from http://theshakespeareblog.com/2011/05/cuckoos-and-cuckolds/
Vaz da Silva, F. (2006). Sexual Horns: The Anatomy and Metaphysics of Cuckoldry in European Folklore. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 48(2), 396-418. doi:10.1017/s0010417506000156
Scanned by H. Churchyard. (2006, September 2). La fête de l'Ordre des Cocus devant le trône de Sa Majesté, Infidélité (c. 1815) The celebration of the Order of Cuckoldry before the throne of her majesty, Infidelity" [Digital image]. Retrieved August 14, 2020, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Order-cuckoldry-ca1815-French-satire.jpg
Shakespeare. W. (1598) ‘The Owl and the Cuckoo’, in Love’s Labour’s Lost
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Cuckold. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cuckold
Queiroz, S., & Cromberg, V. (2006). Aggressive behavior in the genus Gallus sp. Revista Brasileira De Ciência Avícola, 8(1), 1-14. doi:10.1590/s1516-635x2006000100001
Schärer, W. (2016, June 5). Mating Lions in the Okavango Delta [Digital image]. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/16253319@N00/28289566105 [modification made to resize]
Dupont, B. (2011, November 12). Lions (Panthera leo) Mating [Nossob Riverbed, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, SOUTH AFRICA]. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/berniedup/6532101365/
Luneviciene, J. (n.d.). Rooster [Digital image]. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://pixabay.com/photos/rooster-village-farm-grass-farming-811723/
Michel, C. P. (2013, September 6). Panthera Leo Massaica Mating [Digital image]. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.christophermichel.com/Travel/Masai-Mara-Kenya/i-gcXDVf7/A
Kvarnemo, C., Hamilton, W., Parker, G., H. Kokko, I., J. Lehtonen, H., JM. Reid, G., McDonald, J. (1970, January 01). Inclusive fitness benefits mitigate costs of cuckoldry to socially paired males. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-018-0620-6
Kays, R. (2020, July 29). Reproduction and life cycle. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/animal/lion/Reproduction-and-life-cycle
Owen, J. (2004, July 23). Homosexual Activity Among Animals Stirs Debate. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2004/07/homosexual-animals-debate/
Steen, J. (1664). Celebrating the Birth [Painting]. Wallace Collection, London.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (1998, July 20). Pantaloon. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Pantaloon
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2019, November 18). Commedia dell'arte. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/art/commedia-dellarte
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