So called because he was born during the drought which lasted thirty and six months, three weeks, four days, thirteen hours, and a little more, in that year of grace noted for having “three Thursdays in one week.” His father was Gargantua, the giant, who was four hundred fourscore and forty-four years old at the time; his mother, Badebec, died in giving him birth; his grandfather was Grangousier (q.v.). He was so strong that he was chained in his cradle with four great iron chains, like those used in ships of the largest size; being angry at this, he stamped out the bottom of his bassanet, which was made of weavers' beams, and, when loosed by the servants, broke his bonds into five hundred thousand pieces with one blow of his infant fist. When he grew to manhood he knew all languages, all sciences, and all knowledge of every sort, out-Solomoning Solomon in wisdom. Having defeated Anarchus, King of the Dipsodes, all submitted except the Almirods. Marching against these people, a heavy rain fell, and Pantagruel covered his whole army with his tongue. While so doing, Alcofribas crawled into his mouth, where he lived six months, taking toll of every morsel that his lord ate. His immortal achievement was his voyage from Utopia in quest of the “oracle of the Holy Bottle” (q.v.).
Wouldst thou not issue forth ... To see the third part in this earthy cell Of the brave acts of good Pantagruel'.
Pantagruel was the last of the race of giants.
“My thirst with Pantagruel's own would rank.” —Punch, June 15th, 1893, p. 17.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894