Thank You for Gargoyles, Water Spouts, and Listerine

The origin of gargoyles —those scary lookin’ creatures on Gothic churches and in some modern gardens— has a different root in different cultures, mostly as a functional water spout with mythological story telling agendas.

The word “Gargoyle” is linked to the french “gargouille” meaning throat and Latin “Gurgulio” meaning, uh, throat. And it sounds a lot like gurgle or gargle.

So you take a throat, add some Listerine, make a gurgling sound, and you got gargoyles!

Architecturally, gargoyles served to keep water moving from the roof corners of ancient buildings— the water made gurgling sounds as it moved from the roof through the throat, and out of the open mouth of the gargoyle.

Long before Home Depot came up with deep throated rain gutters, gargoyles were guarding us from roof damage.

But why are they so demonic and creepy looking?

Because humans love dual function and some religious guy said “Hey, if we gotta put these things on the roof, why not make them look like creatures so we can scare the bejeezus outa Pagans and encourage them to be good Catholics and bring us cattle and vegetables and stuff! … Amen.”

Actually, there are a lot of stories about grotesque figures, griffins, open mouthed fertility gods, and monastic faces without bodies that go along with gargoyle mythology, but my favorite one is about how gargling with Listerine can keep germs away and give you nice breath so people will bring you their cows and vegetables and stuff.

The gargoyle is our friend.


~ by leakelley on December 27, 2011.

3 Responses to “Thank You for Gargoyles, Water Spouts, and Listerine”

  1. Now, try to gargle while balanced on the edge of a building.

  2. I am LOL at your last comment.

  3. Yes, I never heard that uh… particular legend of the gargoyle before. That is pretty interesting though, how the word took on this whole other, more vivid attachment.

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