Philobiblon: Thank the Pope

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Thank the Pope

I was delighted to read that the word "courtesan" was invented in the 15th-century, derived from the female version of "cortegiano" (courtier). It was applied to the women of the Papal court in Rome.

"The Master of Ceremonies at the Papal Court, who was responsible for hiring them, referred to them picturesquely as 'our respectable prostitutes'..."

(This from Kate Hickman's Courtesans, HarperCollins, 2003, p15)

It brings me to today's events, a minor triumph of democracy in Europe, with the withdrawal of the nominated European Commission, which was about to be rejected by the parliament because of the position of Rocco Buttiglione as justice commissioner, responsible for rights issues, when he has expressed extremely prejudiced views on gays and women. He's also apparently a friend of the Pope, certainly a disqualification in my mind.

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