I have a great prof for my Medieval Europe class this semester: he links us to pictures and interactive websites and asks us to write about them, which is fantastic homework. Anyway, I tell you this because I found a bunch of stuff on one of the websites.
Rams are sacrificial animals, they're always popping up in religious texts and dying. Is that all there is to it? They die, like Baldr? NO, they also get drilled. I’m going to drop a knowledge bomb here... Pliny the Elder said: “the wildness of rams can be curbed by drilling a hole in the horn near the ear”. Wait. What? I think a lot of behaviours can be cured by drilling a hole in something’s head. Who worked this out? Maybe it was an accident the first time and the ram "fell" on a branch or very sharp rock and insta-lobotomized himself. And some shepherd just happened to be there. Or maybe humpty dumpty was pushed.
The rambunctious nature of rams means that they are associated with toughness and virility. Sheep, on the other hand, are obedient and meek. And stupid. [Apparently not, click here] Interesting gender divide there, with sheep/ram as symbols or behaviour guides. And by interesting I mean it totally fits in with almost everything we've ever read about gender dichotomy in Europe past and present.
Medieval bestiaries are good sources of fun, nerd style. This image is from "Book of the Properties of Things" by Bartholomew. What kind of a title is that? It's the title of a damned encyclopedia, that's what! Thanks to Arabic knowledge and their awesome preservation of ancient texts, Europe was down with science by 1416, when this manuscript was completed.