Myth and Legend

Quotations concerning pigs,
superstition, purification and prophecy

pig and fairy

In a forest of oak and fern a black pig wounds a king and kills a hero, while in other lands the pig-bearing initiates into the Elysian Mysteries are purified and arrive at length in the paradisaical reed fields of eternity.

And elsewhere, in the course of sacred discourse, pigs are sacrificed, even as others consult with the pigs themselves for some swine are know to speak with wise prophecy.


Soon in the luscious feast themselves they lost,
And drank oblivion of their native coast.
Instant her circling wand the goddess waves,
To hogs transforms them, and the sty receives.
No more was seen the human form divine;
Head, face, and members, bristle into swine:
Still curs’d with sense, their minds remain alone,
And their own voice affrights them when they groan.
Meanwhile the goddess in disdain bestows
The mast and acorn, brutal food! and strows
The fruits and cornel, as their feast, around;
Now prone and grovelling on unsavoury ground.

Homer (?-850 BC)
Greek epic poet.
The Odyssey (800 BC), Book X, tr. by Alexander Pope.

Boeotia, choose reform or Civil War,
   When through thy streets, instead of hare with dogs,
A Consort-Queen shall hunt a King with hogs,
   Riding on the Ionian Minotaur.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1882)
British romantic poet. Oedipus Tyrannus or Swellfoot the Tyrant (1820).

During the World War [W.W.I], sailors of the United States Navy would line up, as many as ten at a time, in their bare feet, in my tattoo shop and I was so busy I had to have my wife help me with the tattoo work. The barefooted sailors would have a pig tattooed on one foot and a chicken an the other. They said it would save them in case their ship was torpedoed. I don’t know why.

Louis “Sailor George” Stevens
A Hungarian-American tattoo artist who owned a shop for 22 years at 172 Washington Street on the edge of Seattle’s “skidroad” district. American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940, Item 93 of 273 [Tattoo], a personal history recorded in Seattle, Washington on December 19, 1938, by the staff.

The white moon, enchanted, turns ’round behind the roofs, and only I, dreamily, remain in the same place. Before me, a transparent pig ecstatically buries its feet in the mud.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Russian surrealist painter.

As pigs are said to see the wind…

Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
British writer.
Hudibras, Pt. III, Canto II, line 1108 (1663, 1664 and 1678).

“We have received a sign, Edith — a mysterious sign. A miracle has happened on this farm. There is a large spider’s web in the doorway of the barn cellar right over the pigpen, and when Lurvy went to feed the pig this morning, he noticed the web because it was foggy, and you know how a spider’s web looks very distinct in a fog. And right spang in the middle of the web there were the words ‘Some Pig.’ The words were woven right into the web… It says, ‘Some Pig,’ just as clear as clear can be. There can be no mistake about it. A miracle has happened and a sign has occurred here on earth, right on our farm, and we have no ordinary pig.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Zuckerman, “it seems to me you’re a little off. It seems to me we have no ordinary spider.”

E. B. White (1899-1985)
U.S. essayist, author and authority on prose styles. Charlotte’s Web (1952).

De nuict Soleil penseront auois veu.
Quand le pourceau demy homme on verra:
Bruit chant, bataille au ciel batre apperceu,
Et bestes brutes à parler l’on orra.

    At night they will think they have seen the sun,
    When they see the pig half-man:
    Noise, screams, battles seen fought in the skies,
    The brute beasts will be heard to speak.

Nostradamus (1503-1556)
Originally Michel de Notredame, a French physician and astrologer, who wrote a collection of prophecies that describe events from the mid-1500s through the end of the world.The Prophecies of Nostradamus, “Centuries”, I, 64, (1555). Modern interpreters of Nostradamus suggest this passage prophesizes a 20th century air battle.

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.