Since Apr 19, 1999

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My wife started this screen name, and I bulled in after her. She doesn't use it anymore.

Male, nigh onto 60 years of age, American on both sides to way before 1776, and here and there much, much longer.

Most importantly, born again, and Catholic, by the Grace of God.

I was a materialist before, Heaven help me. Baptized at age 44.

"Duty, Honor, Country." And the first of these is Duty, which comes through faith by His Grace. No true virtue, no true knowledge, and no hope for the future can come without His Divine Help. "Seek, and you shall find; ask, and it shall be opened unto you."

I pray to the Lord, and ask all those in Heaven to join my prayer, that the reader (and myself, my family, and my neighbor) shall not be tempted into futile effort, shall not be tempted by vain imaginings, but instead place his hope in the Most High and know His Son as the true King.


The above is quite old, and quite serious, and so befits me. I also have a humorous side, which I sometimes indulge.

Why have I stuck with "Iris7"? Why not some self parody like "Leonidas", or "Dienekes", or "Gluteous Maximus", or "Daddy Longlegs", or maybe the obscure "Garet Garett"? Why did I stick with the hopelessly obscure "Iris7"?

A while back a very young and painfully serious and stupid young man, here on FreeRepublic, took exception to "Iris7", and I felt a frisson of identification with the rest of the human kind when I found him annoying. The "7" metaphor is simple, I have a friend who really knows numerology of the southern Indian, Dravidian sort, and so "7".

The Iris part is more complicated, and has to do with the Iris - Lily, fleur-de-lis, Three Persons of God, and the Holy Mother, and with metaphor much older. For giggles I looked around on the web for a nice essay I could "borrow" on the subject, and found a very droll metaphor indeed!!

"Of all the floral devices used in Heraldry the most famous is the fleur-de-lis now generally identified with the iris. Its floral character has been altogether denied by some writers who have professed to trace its origin to the head of a lance, spear or sceptre, to an architectural finial; to a frog, bee, a sacred monogram, etc. (The student who is interested will find all suggestions stated, and refuited, in the excellent work of M. Rey: Histoire du Drapeau, Paris, 1837, and can hardly failed to be surprised at the prodigious number of treatises which have been published on the subject).

It is at first sight so difficult to explain the reason why, when other great potentates were assuming for their armorial emblems the lion, the eagle, etc, the sovereigns of France should have preferred the apparently humble iris-flower, that we are hardly surprised to find the fact accounted for by the tradition that it was brought from heaven itself by an angel to Clovis, King of France, on the occasion of his baptism, as a special mark of favor on the part of the Blessed Virgin, whose peculiar symbol the lily has always been, The tradition has many variations of place and circumstance. It is, however, somewhat surprising to find that the French bishops at the Council of Trent, when disputing for the precedence of their sovereign, fortified their claim by alleging that the King of France had received the fleur-de-lis direct from heaven: Gallorum regem unctum esse et lilia divinitus accepisse!

The first use of the word "iris" in French is in a 13th c. manuscript, Le Livre des Medecines Simples, where it says: "iris porte roge flor et ireos blanches." The word existed before, to name a prism, or rock through which the light diffracts into a rainbow (here the etymology is clear: Iris, messenger of the Gods). How it came to designate the plant I don't know (ref: Godefroy: Dictionnaire de l'Ancienne Langue Francaise, vol. 10, Kraus reprints, 1969).

The first instance of the word "lis", plural of an unattested "lil" from Latin lilium, is around 1150 for the flower. The word is often found as metonymy for the lily flower, and used in numerous metaphors for whiteness, purity, etc. For example, in Erec et Enéide by Chrestien de Troyes (ca. 1170): "plus ot que n'est la flor de lis, Cler et blanc le front et le vis" (forehead and face pale and white more than the lily flower) (example taken from: Tobler-Lommatzsch: Altfranzösisches Wörterbuch). The word fleur de lis is also used as metaphor for the Virgin Mary (1223). First clear-cut use of the word "fleur de lis" in its heraldic acception is in 1225 in Durmart le Gallois, although Victor Gay (Glossaire Archéologique du Moyen-Âge, vol. 1, Paris, 1887) claims that the word is used in an ordnance of Louis VII (1137-1180), without giving any reference.

What is really strange is that the lily was such a constant metaphor for whiteness, and would become a golden charge. As mentioned before, lilies are usually white, not yellow.

What about the English language? What follows are edited OED entries. It appears that:

in English, the iris was often called fleur-de-lis or flower-de-luce, since the 16th century.

Fleur-de-lis, to designate the heraldic charge, appears as early as 1400. the yellow iris, or common British species (Iris pseudacorus) is also called Yellow Flag.

What to make of it? The late date for the use of fleur-de-lis in English to designate the flower makes me suspect that, here, the charge came first and the name was applied to the flower because of the formal resemblance.

iris , sb. Pl. irides , irises. [a. Gr. iris, stem irid-. The senses (except 3 and 6) correspond to those of the Gr. word; so also Fr. iris. The pl. irides is chiefly used in sense 4.]

1. Gr. Myth. The goddess who acted as the messenger of the gods, and was held to display as her sign, or appear as, the rainbow; hence, allusively, a messenger.

2. a. A rainbow; a many-coloured refraction of light from drops of water. b. transf. A rainbow-like or iridescent appearance; a circle or halo of prismatic colours; a combination or alternation of brilliant colours. c. fig.

3. a. A hexagonal prismatic crystal (mentioned by Pliny Nat. Hist.)

4. a. Anat. b. (transf.) Entom. c. Photogr. = iris-diaphragm;

5. Bot. A genus of plants, the type of the natural order Iridaceae, natives of Europe, N. Africa, and the temperate regions of Asia and America; most of the species have tuberous (less commonly bulbous or fibrous) roots, sword-shaped equitant leaves, and showy flowers; formerly often called Fleur-de-lis or Flower-de-luce. Also, a plant of this iris, Iris germanica, the German Flag, a common cultivated species; fetid iris, the Gladden, Iris foetidissima; Florentine iris = white iris; stinking iris = fetid iris; white iris, Iris florentina, from which orrisroot is obtained; yellow iris, the Yellow Flag, Iris Pseudacorus, the common British species.

1562 Turner Herbal. ii. 23 a, Iris is knowen both of the Grecianes and Latines by that name; it is Englishe flour de lyce. 1578 Lyte Dodoens ii. xxxv. 192 There be many kindes of Iris, or floure Deluce. 1578 Lyte Dodoens 193 The Irides or flower Deluces do most commonly flower about May.

fleur-de-lis , flower-de-luce . Forms: &ia.. 4-6 flour(e-de-lys(e, -lice, -lyce, (pl. -lycis), 7 -lis, 5-7 -luce, pl. -luces, 6 floredelise, Sc. 5 flour(e-the-lis, -lys. &ib.. 6-9 flower-, (6 flowre-)de-luce, (pl. -luces), 6-7 -lice, (pl. -lices), 6 -lyce, 8 -lys, 7-9 -lis. &ig.. 8-9 fleur-de-lys, 9 -lis, pl. 7 fleur-de-lysses, -lyzes, 9 fleurs-de-lis, -lys, -luce. [The prevailing form is a. mod.Fr. fleur de lis , formerly lys; but this form is scarcely found in Eng. before the 19th c.; see above. The form flower-de-luce survives as a poetical archaism and in U.S. The Fr. is literally `lily-flower' from lis, formerly lys, in OFr. liz for lils lily, the s of the nom. sing. being retained in the oblique cases; the English spelling de-lice, de-lyce, was in its origin merely graphic (cf. price, mice, syce, etc.), but in the 16th c. was associated with a fanciful etymology flos deliciae, and the form deluce, de luce apparently also leaned upon a fanciful derivation. Occasional English forms were deluce, delyce flowre.]

1. The flower of a plant of the genus Iris (esp. I. pseudacorus); the plant itself. Cf. flag sb.1 1. 13.. E.E. Allit. P. A. 752 &Th.y colour passez &th.e flour-de-lys. A. 1400 Hymn Virg. vi. in Warton Hist. Eng. Poetry x. (1840) II. 110 Heil fairer then the flour de lys. C. 1475 Rauf Coil&ygh.ear 670 Flowris with Flourdelycis formest in feir. 1500-20 Dunbar Thistle & Rose 138 Lat no netill vyle..Hir fallow to the gudly flour delyce. 1590 Spenser F.Q. ii. vi. 16 The lilly, lady of the flowring field, The flowre-deluce, her lovely paramoure. 1699 Bentley Phal. Pref. 104 The Muses are invited to come under the shadow of Flower-de-luces. 1731-37 Miller Gard. Dict. (ed. 3) s.v. Iris, Iris purpurea..Common purple Fleur-de-Lys. 1837 Campbell Lines in La Perouse's Voy. Poet. Wks. 298 When, rapt in fancy..I..plucked the fleur-de-lys by Jesso's streams. 1866 Longf. Flower-de-luce viii, O flower-de-luce, bloom on, and let the river linger to kiss thy feet! b. fig. 1500-20 Dunbar Ballat Our Lady 42 Haile, fair fresche flour-de-lyce!

2. The heraldic lily; a device supposed by some to have originally represented an iris, by others the top of a sceptre, of a battle-axe or other weapon. It is best known from having been borne upon the royal arms of France under the old monarchy. C. 1400 Melayne 94 Wende thy waye..To Charles that beris the flour delyce. 1488 in Ld. Treas. Acc. Scotl. I. 81 Item ane vche of gold like a flourethelis of diamantis. 1529 Rastell Pastyme (1811) 75, .iii. floure delyse in a feld asure was sent to Kyng Clouys from hevyn for his armys. 1622 Malynes Anc. Law-Merch. 189 The French Kings Tent with the three Flowerdeluces. 1709 Addison Tatler No. 161 &page.9 A bloody Flag, embroidered with Flower-de Luces. 1843 Lytton Last Bar. ii. ii, A lofty head-gear, embroidered with fleur-de-lis. 1851 Layard Pop. Acc. Discov. Nineveh vii. 163 The first god wears the square horned cap, surmounted by a point, or fleur-de-lys. b. The royal arms of France; hence also the French royal family, the French flag (before 1789), the French nation or government."


Anyway, this metaphor, here covered very well, I had read in my youth while interested in heraldry. "Iris" tripped my trigger, therefore, and I have kept it as a nom de guerre.

Those upset by the "French" slant to this metaphor rest assured that I am not a fan of Modern France, the France brought about by the vile Richelieu. The French started eating their food with knives, forks, and spoons instead of with their hands in about 1600, and that was about the end of France.

There is an obvious question, "Are you serious?", I answer, but of course!! Why else would I be using such a name??

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