Sunday, March 03, 2013

Animal Names

My last stick figure lit post had the two Cambridge students running after the borrowed horse, Bayard.  I love that we know the horse's name.

Bayard seems to be a name for a bay horse.  I feel like I've read it before, in other pieces of lit.  Have I?  Do you folks know other Bayards?

I like that medieval writers give us names for animals.  Horses seem especially important.  There's Gringolet, for example.

What other famous horses do we know?  (The other two I know are Traveler, Robert E Lee's famous and beautiful gray horse, and Comanche, the US cavalry horse that was found at the Little Bighorn battlefield after the battle.)

Dogs?  Asta in lit, and lots of historical dogs from fairly recent history.  But I don't remember any dog names in medieval lit.  In fact, I don't remember any dog names from early modern lit (other than Cub and Tom), either.  Nor, does it seem to me, are there many dogs.

In contrasts, we have Greymalkin and Malkin for cats, no?  Other cats?

Chaunticleer and Pertelote, but other poultry?

Don Russell or Reynard, but other wild animals?


  1. There is a horse named Bayard in Adam of the Road, which was my Favorite Book Ever when I was nine or so, and the one that got me hooked on all things medieval. However, I'm sure the author borrowed the name from Chaucer, even though the book is set a century or so earlier.

  2. Bucephalus! Incitatus was probably a senator in myth, only. Charlemagne's horse in 'The Song of Roland' was Tencendur. Marengo - Napoleon's mount. U.S. Grant rode Cincinnati.

    Don Quixote rode Rocinante, right? Did you read and love 'My Friend Flicka"? Certainly 'Black Beauty' with Merrylegs and Ginger, as well.

    How about race horses? "Eclipse the first, the rest nowhere." The Byerley Turk, the Godolphin Arabian and the Darley Arabian - foundation stallions of the Thoroughbred breed. Steeplechasing gave us "The Pie" (immortalized in 'National Velvet') as well as Red Rum.

    Yes, you can guess what animal I was obsessed with as a youngster. I still ride a bit today although mostly I play groom for Eldest who does dressage on a handsome buckskin named Oscar (registered name "Desired Version").

  3. I'm reading Jane Eyre right now--Mesrour the horse, Pilot the dog.

  4. Hemingway has cats with names in Islands in the Stream. And they're really important to the main character, taking the place of his family after his sons die. Sadly, that's as much as I remember.

  5. When I hear Bayard I think not of the horse but of the Chevalier de Bayard.

    There's Crab the dog in "Two Gentlemen of Verona." Justus Lipsius had three dogs, Mopsus, Mopsulus, and Saphyrus, which he mentioned in some of his letters.

  6. Misty of Chincoteague, and Stormy, Misty's Foal (there are probably a good many other named horses in those books, but those are the two I remember). I think at least some of the farm animals in the Little House books had names, too. And, of course, Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga, and Roo. Rikki-tikki-tavi (and various other Kipling animals).

    Aslan the lion (and some other named creatures, both actual and mythical, there, too).

    There are at least 2 dogs in _Uncle Tom's Cabin_: a large one (Newfoundland, I think, and I think the name is Bruno) and a smaller one who belongs to George Harris (and which his master drowns; I'm pretty sure this one has a name, to, but I'm not remembering it offhand). There's also an (unnamed, I think) kitten who meets a horrible death toward the beginning of _The Lamplighter_ (cruelty to animals seems to be one way of showing that a character is generally cruel in mid-19th-century American fiction). I think you'd generally find a good number of both dogs and cats, many of them named, in mid-19th-century American bestsellers. My instinct is to suspect that the same is true for Dickens (who also wrote novels that might be termed "domestic"), but I can't think of one offhand.

  7. Anonymous12:08 PM

    "For I will consider my cat Jeoffry."

  8. Does Pangur Ban count?

  9. I should think so, JaneB!

  10. As proude Bayard gynneth for to skippe
    Out of the weye, so pryketh hym his corn,
    Til he a lasshe have of the longe whippe;
    Than thynketh he, "Though I praunce al byforn
    First in the trays, ful fat and newe shorn,
    Yet am I but an hors, and horses lawe
    I moot endure, and with my feres drawe";

    So ferde it by this fierse and proude knyght . . . .
    (T&C I.218-25)

    All the animals in the Reynard stories have names. Tybalt the cat. Renart's wife, Hermaline. Ysengrim, the wolf, and his wife, Hersent.

    Arthur's dog is Caval in the Welsh stories, and I expect his horse has a name, too (Perrus? [that's a joke]), but I can't think of it. I'm pretty sure that at least in some versions, the little dog that Tristan gives Isolde gets a name. Would you count the Chevalier au Cygne, or not? Hey, how about Grendel?

  11. Wellington's horse was Copenhagen

  12. Anonymous7:59 AM

    Pyewacket (from Bell, Book and Candle).