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THE TILL EULENSPIEGEL SERIES : TALE 17
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The 17th story tells of how Eulenspiegel pretended to be a physician and how he swindled the Bishop of Magdeburg's doctor by treating him

Warning: explicit scatology. Nobody's forcing you to read it, and you've been warned.


In Magdeburg there was a bishop by the name of Bruno, who was also the Earl of Querfurt. This man heard of Eulenspiegel's pranks and bade him come to Castle Giebichenstein. The bishop was quite taken with Eulenspiegel's tricks and presented him with clothes and money. The courtiers also liked him well and he spent much time in their company.

Now, the bishop had a physician who thought himself to be very wise and learned. The bishop's people though did not like him much. This doctor disliked having fools around him. This is why he spoke to the bishop and some of his councillors: "One should afford wise men residence at the gentry's courts and, for many reasons, not give it to such fools." The knights and the servants, upon hearing this, declared the doctor's opinion to be wrong. Anyone who did not wish to pay attention to Eulenspiegel's tomfoolery was free not to listen to it; it was thrust upon no one. The doctor countered: "To each his own. Fools to fools and wise men to wise men! If the lords surrounded themselves with wise folk, wisdom would always be before them. Should they keep fools, they will themselves learn folly." And several of them said to him: "Who are those wise men who think themselves so clever? Many of them have been swindled by fools. It is fitting for both gentlemen and nobles to keep different kinds of people at their court. For they can play many games with the fools and the fools like to be where the lords are."

So the knights and the courtiers came to Eulenspiegel and implored him to come up with a plan. They asked him to think of a prank and they, as well as the bishop, would help him carry it out. The doctor was to be taught a lesson. Eulenspiegel said: "Very well, noblemen and knights, if you help me, the doctor shall pay for his conceit." And thus they agreed.

So Eulenspiegel spent four weeks travelling through the countryside and considering what to do with the physician. Soon he had come up with a plan and returned to Giebichenstein. He disguised himself and claimed to be a doctor, because the bishop's physician was often ill and took many medications. The knights told the bishop's physician that a doctor of medicine had arrived who was well versed in many healing ways.

The physician did not recognise Eulenspiegel and visited him at his inn. After only a brief conversation he took him back to the castle with him. They began to talk and the physician said to the doctor: "Could you help me rid myself of my illness, I should reward you handsomely." Eulenspiegel replied to him with the talk that doctors like to use in such cases. He said he would have to sleep with him for a night so that he could better see his natural condition. "Because, before you go to sleep, I would like to give you something to make you sweat. From the sweat I'll be able to tell what ails you."

Eulenspiegel gave the physician, who believed he was getting something to make him sweat and did not know what it really was, a strong laxative. Then Eulenspiegel took a stone vessel and put a pile of his own dirt in it. And he placed the stone pot with the faeces on the edge of the bed, towards the wall. The doctor lay against the wall and Eulenspiegel on the outside of the bed. The physician had turned to face the wall. But the dirt in the pot smelled so badly that he had to turn to face Eulenspiegel. Eulenspiegel then let go a silent fart that stank awfully. So the physician turned over again and the dirt in the pot stank just as bad. Thus Eulenspiegel tormented the physician almost half the night.

Then the laxative took effect and it worked so swiftly and strongly that the doctor completely soiled himself and stank to high heaven. So Eulenspiegel said to him: "How now, dear doctor? Your sweat has already smelled abominably for a while. How come that you sweat like this? It stinks quite horribly." The doctor lay and thought to himself: "I smell it too." And the stench was so overpowering that he could barely speak. Eulenspiegel said to him: "You lie there. I will go and fetch a light so that I can see how you're doing." As he stood up, he let go another strong fart and said: "Oh my, your illness and the stench have made me too feel weak." The physician lay there and was so ill that he couldn't even raise his head; and he thanked almighty God that the doctor had left him for, whenever he had tried to get up in the night, Eulenspiegel had pinned him down saying he needed to sweat sufficiently first.

After Eulenspiegel got up and left the room, he ran away from the castle.

In the meantime, daybreak was at hand. The doctor saw the dirt-filled pot against the wall. And he was so sick that his face looked quite sour from the stench. The knights and courtiers saw the physician and wished him a good day. He, however, spoke feebly and laid himself down on a cushioned bench. Then the courtiers brought the bishop and asked the physician what had happened with the doctor. The physician replied: "I was taken by a trickster. I though it was a doctor of medicine but he really was a doctor of deception." And he told them everything that had happened.

The bishop and all the other courtiers started laughing and said: "It has happened just as you said. You said one should not trouble himself with fools for the wise would become a fool too in their presence. But now you see that one can also learn from the fool because that doctor was Eulenspiegel. You failed to recognise him and believed him. He was the one who swindled you. But we who occupied ourselves with his foolishness knew him well but we did not want to warn you since you held yourself for so clever. Nobody is so wise that he should not know fools. If there were no fools in the world, how would the wise stand out?" The doctor remained silent and dared not complain anymore.


English translation created for E2 from the original written in 1515 by Hermann Bote, available at the German project Gutenberg.

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