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duced them on his head by the force of imagination.[1] Passion gave to the son of Crœsus the voice that Nature had denied him.[2] And Antiochus was seized by a fever because of the beauty of Stratonice too vividly imprinted on his soul.[3] Pliny says that he saw Lucius Cossitius changed from a woman to a man on his wedding day.[4] Pontanus and others tell of similar metamorphoses having occurred in Italy in times past; and because of his own and his mother’s vehement desire,

Vota puer solvit, que fœmina voverat Iphis.[5]

(b) Passing through Vitry le Francoys, I might have seen a man whom the Bishop of Soissons had christened Germain at his confirmation, and whom all the inhabitants of that place had seen and known as a girl, named Marie, up to the age of twenty-two. He was, when I was there, heavily bearded and old and unmarried. He says that, when making a certain effort in leaping, his virile parts appeared; and there is still current among the girls of that place a ballad in which they warn one another not to take long strides for fear of becoming boys, like Marie Germain.[6] It is not very marvellous that this sort of accident happens frequently; for, if the imagination has power in such matters, it is so continually and so strongly turned to this subject that, not to be obliged to fall back so often upon the same thought and keenness of desire, it does better to incorporate this virile part in young women once and for all.

(a) Some attribute the scars of King Dagobert and St. Francis to the power of imagination. It is said that by it

  1. There are tales and references, more or less full, in Valerius Maximus, Pliny, and Ovid, of or to some Cyppus who suddenly found himself behorned; but none of these mentions the combat des taureaux, or speaks of it as an effect of imagination. Montaigne seems to have taken the story from the Diverses Leçons of Pierre Messie (1552).
  2. This story is told by Herodotus (I, 85); but Montaigne did not read Herodotus till a later date than that at which this Essay was written, and consequently did not derive it from him.
  3. See Lucian, On the Goddess of Syria; Plutarch, Life of Demetrius.
  4. See his Natural History, VII, 4.
  5. As a boy Iphis paid the vows that as a girl he had made. — Ovid, Metamorphoses, IX, 794. The first word, in the original, is Dona.
  6. Montaigne tells the same story in his Journal de Voyage.