Thursday, March 7, 2024

Lepidus, Lapras, Pokélogan, Thomas B. Marsh, and Peter

In my February 6 post "Pokélogan," I discuss my plesiosaur Pokémon keychain by that name and my disappointment when I discovered that the creature's "real" name was the vastly inferior Lapras. William Wright went on to connect Pokélogan with Thomas B. Marsh and Thomas B. Marsh with St. Peter.

The real name, Lapras, reminded me of something, though, and the other day I finally figured out what. Back in 2018, I read the Arden Shakespeare edition of Antony and Cleopatra, with helpful but occasionally mildly zany notes by R. H. Case. The most memorable of these was a comment on a dialogue in which Agrippa says, "'Tis a noble Lepidus," and Enobarbus replies, "A very fine one." About this use of Lepidus, the name of one of the triumvirs, as if it were a common noun, Case writes:

This comment was possibly evoked by the sound of the word Lepidus, which, to me, at least, is rather suggestive of some kind of sea creature of the inerter type. But perhaps this is seeing too much.

I have to say I'm a huge fan of this note. It's almost Pale Fire tier. If more footnotes were like this one, I would read more footnotes.

So no less an authority than R. H. Case assures us that the name Lepidus is "suggestive of some kind of sea creature" -- like, say, a sky-blue Loch Ness monster with a shell and horns? In American pronunciation, the d in Lepidus is flapped, making it sound like a Spanish or Japanese r; and the u is reduced to a schwa, which would be considered an a sound in Japanese. That gives us Lepiras, which is pretty close to Lapras. I personally didn't think Lapras was such a great name for a sea creature, but I'm prepared to defer to Professor Case on the matter.

Lepidus means "pleasant, charming," but it can also be a variant of Lapidus, "made of stone, stony." A sea creature made of stone would certainly be "of the inerter type." The name Peter, of course, also means "stone." St. Peter was also a "triumvir" of sorts in the Synoptic Gospels and Mormon tradition, together with James and John.

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