français prodigies

Un orage à Palerme en juin 1689

On est frappé, en lisant les sources de l’époque moderne, de constater à quel point la menace de la colère divine pèse sur les esprits. Parfois, un orage un peu fort peut à lui seule susciter la frayeur d’une ville entière. Sans doute en raison de la très forte charge symbolique de la pluie (le déluge), et aussi certainement de ses manifestations potentiellement effrayantes : éclairs et tonnerres. Voici un exemple tiré du journal de l’abbé palermitain Antonio Mongitore en date du 17 juin 1689[1] :

english prodigies

A sea monster in Sicily (May 1716)

The 19 May 1716 the Weekly Journal (one of the major British newspapers of the time) reported on its front page that a sea monster had been seen near the city of Milazzo in Sicily. The creature uttered frightening neighs and had “an horrible size and figure”, resembling to a kind of horse with six feet and two heads, each with a horn on the forefront and elephant-like ears. It appeared for three consecutive days, emerging from the sea around nine in the morning, walking for about four hours on the shore, and plunging again in the water “with that force that the place where it went in foam’d a quarter of an hour afterwards.” According to the paper, the inhabitants of Sicily were extremely worried as they believed the sea monster was possibly “a forerunner of dismal calamities.”

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