Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"I Swear On My Plums..."

Occassionally I hear the claim that ancient Roman men swore on their...um..."plums" before testifying in court. Could it be true--is there a "testes/testify" connection?

I've read different opinions but the consensus seems to be that it didn't quite happen that way.

Here's where the confusion may have begun: the word testicle apparently, comes from the Latin testiculus, a diminutive of testis. If testis meaning 'witness' and testis meaning 'testicle' are indeed the same word, then the etymology could be that the testicles are 'witness' or evidence of 'manliness.' (Only the extremely macho would turn their anatomy into "witnesses" of their own manly magnificence--or diminutiveness as the case may be--but that's another post).

I've also read that the origin of this swearing on the fruit of your loins thing came from the ancient Hebrews. Some site Genesis 24 where "Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, 'Please put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord..."
Some claim translators changed the original wording because well, swearing on someone's plums--not matter how ripe--is just plain weird. Not to mention funny.
I've said all along that nothing beats history for humor--the truth is always funnier than fiction!


Sharon K. Mayhew said...

LOL, you should post more often. You have a great mind!

Sarah Campbell said...

Fun stuff. You have a nice new look for this blog. I'll link to you over on mine.