For those who’ve ever heard the saying “lower off your nostril to spite your face,” have you ever ever questioned the place it got here from? Legend has it that Saint Aebbe, also referred to as Saint Ebba or Æbbe the Youthful, was a pious girl who disfigured her face to guard her chastity from invading Vikings within the ninth century, giving start to this well-known saying within the course of.
This weird English idiom continues to be in use even in the present day, although its modern-day that means has completely different connotations to the unique. Nowadays it’s used to explain a self-destructive act or overreaction, often motivated by anger or revenge, and whose final consequence is to do extra hurt to oneself moderately than the offending occasion.
Apparently, a bunch of Vikings, led by kids of Ragnar Lothbrok , arrived on the shores of Scotland round 870, and ended up burning and sacking Coldingham. When Aebbe the Youthful, the Abbess of Coldingham Priory on the southeast coast of Scotland, found that they had arrived, she lower off her personal nostril in a determined bid to keep away from being raped by the invaders.
She was additionally mentioned to have satisfied the opposite nuns to chop off their noses. The sight encountered by the Vikings will need to have been really hideous. Nonetheless, whereas they escaped forcible violation, their actions nonetheless irked their assailants who continued to burn down the convent. The nuns had been killed within the flames. Their purity had been preserved however they in the end got here to an premature demise. In some accounts, the day of their martyrdom is given because the twenty third of August.
A sixteenth-century depiction of Aebbe the Youthful, a saint supposedly martyred by invading Vikings round 870. ( Public domain )
These occasions had been first recorded in Chronica Majora by the Benedictine monk Matthew Paris (circa 1200 to 1259), written over 300 years after the occasions truly happened. Additionally they made an look throughout the Flores Historiarum , although it has remained not possible to show, or disprove, these accounts for lack of archival proof. It’s additionally not possible to know if this was really the origin of the saying.
Whereas it feels like a very horrific flip of occasions, nostril mutilation was truly a reasonably widespread type of punishment and torture all through historical world. Generally known as a rhinectomy, the removing of the nostril was a sort of corporal punishment in historical Egypt, whereby the noses of sure criminals had been lower off as a everlasting signal of their crimes and so they had been then banished to Rhinocolura. There are additionally accounts from the Persian Empire, historical Greece, medieval Europe and pre-Columbian America.
In response to Plutarch’s De Exilio , King Lysimachus of Thrace lower off the nose and ears of a topic who insulted his spouse. He additionally gouged out his eyes to make sure the message was obtained loud and clear. Heracles in Thebes was given the nickname Rhinokoloustes, that means “the nose-docker,” since he reportedly had the noses eliminated of all messengers despatched by Orchomenos to demand tribute. Even the Old Testament advisable rhinectomies within the case of prostitution.
Prime picture: The saying “to chop off your nostril to spite your face” is alleged to have its origins within the actions of Saint Aebbe and the marauding Vikings. Supply: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS / Adobe Inventory
By Cecilia Bogaard