References in Dune?

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2008
Three random thoughts:

Firstly, Melange is a spice that prolongs life. A "melange" is a blend or variety of other things. So, is Herbert making a pun on variety being the spice of life?

Secondly, in his role as desert prophet, Paul surprises his enemies by blowing up a mountain and attacking through it. I always wondered if this was a reference to the old proverb "If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must come to the mountain", which seems to mean that if one plan won't work, another must be found.

Thirdly, is the cry of the water-seller "Ikhut-eigh!" (etymology uncertain, according to the notes at the back) a different spelling of "Ecouter!", meaning "Listen!" in French?

Vince W

Towel Champion
Sep 9, 2011
While the reference to melange as variety may well be true, but it is also probably a reference to Ras-al-Hanout. Dr. Yueh remarks that melange never tastes the same way twice. Ras-al-Hanout is a blend of spices used in Middle-Eastern cuisine mixed my shopkeepers. No two blends are ever the same although they all rely heavily on cinnamon/cumin/turmeric.

Your second, thought is a good one Toby. It seems logical. I would suggest that it was primarily a way to surprise the Sardaukar and Harkonnen forces by shocking them profoundly using the worms as terror weapons. They could never get the worms close enough without blowing up the Shield Wall. It mimics slightly the surprise the Atreides forces experienced when artillery was used against them by the Harkonnens.

I think you're probably spot on with the third supposition. Herbert used language in very clever ways.


Well-Known Member
Jul 3, 2011
this is a fun speculation. Alternatively, melange is just the French noun for a mixture, and melanger is the verb to mix.
extending this a bit farther, mela is a Hindi word for a large crowd of people.