The Fifth Book/Chapter XXXVII

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How the temple gates in a wonderful manner opened of themselves

After we were got down the steps, we came to a portal of fine jasper, of Doric order, on whose front we read this sentence in the finest gold, EN OINO ALETHEIA--that is, In wine truth. The gates were of Corinthian-like brass, massy, wrought with little vine-branches, finely embossed and engraven, and were equally joined and closed together in their mortise without padlock, key-chain, or tie whatsoever. Where they joined, there hanged an Indian loadstone as big as an Egyptian bean, set in gold, having two points, hexagonal, in a right line; and on each side, towards the wall, hung a handful of scordium (garlic germander).

There our noble lantern desired us not to take it amiss that she went no farther with us, leaving us wholly to the conduct of the priestess Bacbuc; for she herself was not allowed to go in, for certain causes rather to be concealed than revealed to mortals. However, she advised us to be resolute and secure, and to trust to her for the return. She then pulled the loadstone that hung at the folding of the gates, and threw it into a silver box fixed for that purpose; which done, from the threshold of each gate she drew a twine of crimson silk about nine feet long, by which the scordium hung, and having fastened it to two gold buckles that hung at the sides, she withdrew.

Immediately the gates flew open without being touched; not with a creaking or loud harsh noise like that made by heavy brazen gates, but with a soft pleasing murmur that resounded through the arches of the temple.

Pantagruel soon knew the cause of it, having discovered a small cylinder or roller that joined the gates over the threshold, and, turning like them towards the wall on a hard well-polished ophites stone, with rubbing and rolling caused that harmonious murmur.

I wondered how the gates thus opened of themselves to the right and left, and after we were all got in, I cast my eye between the gates and the wall to endeavour to know how this happened; for one would have thought our kind lantern had put between the gates the herb aethiopis, which they say opens some things that are shut. But I perceived that the parts of the gates that joined on the inside were covered with steel, and just where the said gates touched when they were opened I saw two square Indian loadstones of a bluish hue, well polished, and half a span broad, mortised in the temple wall. Now, by the hidden and admirable power of the loadstones, the steel plates were put into motion, and consequently the gates were slowly drawn; however, not always, but when the said loadstone on the outside was removed, after which the steel was freed from its power, the two bunches of scordium being at the same time put at some distance, because it deadens the magnes and robs it of its attractive virtue.

On the loadstone that was placed on the right side the following iambic verse was curiously engraven in ancient Roman characters:

  Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt.

  Fate leads the willing, and th' unwilling draws.

The following sentence was neatly cut in the loadstone that was on the left: