Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mozart, I Hardly Knew Ye

Have you heard of Gottfried "Götz" von Berlichingen? Maybe you've heard him referred to by his nickname, Götz of the Iron Hand. No?

Götz was the leader of 1500 Germany's very own A-Team. That's right, an ex-German Imperial Knight, working as a soldier of fortune with a group of ragtag fellow knights, running from the military for a crime he didn't commit. I am not making this up. Mostly.

I stumbled upon Götz while looking for information on prosthetic limbs as research for my novel. Götz, it turns out, had lovely prosthetic limb created for him after he lost his arm fighting for the Duke of Bavaria in the battle of Landshut. His close proximity to a cannon blast caused his own sword to be forced upon him. When he got back from war, he had the above mechanical hand made and continued to have a somewhat successful career as a mercenary and feud starter. The Iron Hand is on display today at Jagsthausan Castle. (So, next time you're in Baden-Württemberg...)

And then the story of Götz of the Iron Hand got really interesting.

Turns out about 200 years later a poet and writer named Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (yes, that Goethe) wrote a play based on Götz's life. In act III, the title character says, "Er aber, sags ihm, er kann mich im Arsche lecken!" in reply to the Bishop of Bamberg's demand for his surrender.

Translation: Lick me on my arse. (a.k.a. kiss my arse)

This is the first recorded use of this phrase that is still in popular use today. (Not by me, of course!)

So popular was this clever phrase, Mozart was inspired to write two cannons based on it in 1782. (Yes, that Mozart).

The first was titled Leck mich im Arsch (literally "Lick me in the arse").

The second was Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber (English: Lick me in the arse fine well and clean)

You can follow the links to see the words to these musical masterpieces (I'm just guessing it's a masterpiece because, you know, it's Mozart) but if you had any questions as to why fascinating stuff like this isn't taught in schools, the words to the cannons should clear that right up for you.

To be specific, the second one is quite possibly rated R. (Consider yourself warned)


Emily Laing said...

I just got in trouble from my spouse for writing for hours a day. He's jealous. He can deal with it, because as far as I'm concerned, what you just discovered was worth it...the origin of my favorite saying!!!!

Afton said...

Emily, I don't even want to figure out how much time I just spent writing this when I should have been writing my novel! But I couldn't resist.

Erika said...

Oh my goodness! I had no idea Mozart had a dirty side! Who would have thought! That was totally funny. I wouldn't have thought that they talked that way back then, just because things seemed more proper. But I guess there was plenty of risque stuff going on back then too! I'll never play Mozart again without thinking of this arse nonsense. Thanks a lot Afton for corrupting me!!

Shannon said...

That is a very interesting post and those lyrics made me laugh out loud.