Matthew met my eyes with difficulty. They were full of pain and a vulnerability that he’d carefully hidden before now. It broke my heart.
It’s one thing to feed a vampire dinner. It’s another thing entirely to ask him to feed himself, apparently.
While Matthew and Diana stalk deer, we’ll talk a little about Matthew’s history–things we didn’t cover while Matthew was in Oxford. We’ll start with his names. Ysabeau says that Matthew’s full name is Matthew Gabriel Philippe Bertrand Sebastien de Clermont. Unsurprisingly, each of those names has a name and a history:
Matthew comes from Matthaios, the Greek form of the Hebrew name Mattityahu. It means “gift of Yahweh” and became common in English in the Middle Ages.
Gabriel also comes from the Hebrew Gavr’iel, meaning “God is my strong man.” Gabriel appears in both the Hebrew and Muslim traditions as an interpreter for the prophets.
Philippe is the French form of Philip, from the Greek Philippos. It means “lover of horses” and was the name of five kings of Macedonia.
Bertrand is the French form of an ancient Germanic name combining “beraht,” meaning “bright,” and “rand,” meaning “the rim of a shield” or “raven,” To my knowledge, Ysabeau indicates that Matthew will not answer to Bertrand, but does not indicate why.
Sebastian or Sebastien comes from the Latin Sebastianus, which means “revered.”
While Matthew is in Oxford, Diana engages in a bit of a rummage around his study and discovers an old toy belonging to Lucas. There are several good examples of medieval children’s toys on the internet, including here and here.
“Dieu. Will you never stop surprising me?” Matthew’s head lifted, and he stared into the distance. His attention was caught by a young stag on the crest of the hill. The stag was cropping the grass, and the wind was blowing towards us, so he hadn’t yet picked up our scent.
Thank you, I breathed silently. It was a gift from the gods for the stag to appear like that.
The deer, the bow, the hounds, the moon, and the hunt are all traditional symbols of the Goddess Diana. Traditionally, worshippers left offerings for Diana at the crossroads. In ancient mythology, Diana ruled over the open sky and fields and was associated with fertility. As previously mentioned, there are legends of the threefold Diana, a tripartite goddess similar to the maiden, mother, and crone of Celtic mythology. Throughout the AST, it’s clear that Diana has a relationship with the threefold goddess, and with deer in particular – if you’ve noticed, she can’t stand the taste of venison.
“Gerbert. From Aurillac?” The Gerbert of Aurilac, the tenth century pope who reputedly owned a brass head that spoke oracles?”
Pope Silvester II, Gerbert of Aurillac, began his papacy in 999. An English monk–William of Malmesbury–wrote a pamphlet accusing Pope Silvester II of learning and using sorcery. In addition to the brass head, he was supposedly in possession of a book of spells stolen from a Spanish sorcerer. He is also associated with the legend of a demon named Meridiana, who foretold that the Devil would come for Gerbert if he ever said mass in Jerusalem. The legend of Gerbert and Meridiana is recounted (…dodgily) here.
“I’m not a child, Diana, and my mother needn’t protect me from my own wife.”
Oh, kids. This is about the time that I want to take Matthew and shake him. Hard.
I cannot actually find much support for Matthew’s assertion that vampires mate like wolves. He makes it sound much more romantic than wolf mating, in which the male and female alpha animals bond and copulate. For the time being, I’ll say that, to the extent that this is true, it would have been REALLY IMPORTANT for Diana to know and, in my opinion, Matthew not telling her that beforehand is pretty unforgivable. We’ll talk about it more, I’m sure.
We skate rather quickly away from that to a bath and bundling, which rather obscures the erasure of Diana’s agency in the beginning of Matthew and Diana’s “marriage.” It’s actually a part of the book that I hope the TV adaptation significantly re-works.
“Speaking of the past,” Matthew drew the back of his hand down my arm, “what does the distinguished historian know about bundling?”
Encyclopedia.com describes bundling as one of several “premarital nonpenetrative sex customs” in Western culture. History.org describes it as “a practice run at marital compatibility” that took place under the family roof. Unsurprisingly, the “non-penetrative part” wasn’t always observed.
Tomorrow, we leave Sept-Tours against our will and head to La Pierre. If you have questions, thoughts, or comments, you can find us at @chamomilenclove on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org.