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Brazen Head


The following are noted:—One by Albertus Magnus, which cost him thirty yearsʹ labour, and was broken into a thousand pieces by Thomas Aquiʹnas, his disciple. One by Friar Bacon.

Bacon trembled for his brazen head.”

Pope: Dunciad, iii. 104.

“Quoth he, ‘My head’s not made of brass,

As Friar Bacon’s noddle was.ʹ”

S. Butler: Hudibras, ii. 2.

The brazen head of the Marquis de Villeʹna, of Spain.

Another by a Polander, a disciple of Escotillo, an Italian.

⁂ It was said if Bacon heard his head speak he would succeed; if not, he would fail. Miles was set to watch, and while Bacon slept the Head spoke thrice: “Time is”; half an hour later it said, “Time was.” In another half-hour it said, “Time’s past,” fell down, and was broken to atoms. Byron refers to this legend.

“Like Friar Bacon’s brazen head, Iʹve spoken,

Time is,ʹ ‘Time was,ʹ ‘Time’s past.ʹ”

Don Juan, i. 217.

Brazen Head. A gigantic head kept in the castle of the giant Ferʹragus, of Portugal. It was omniscient, and told those who consulted it whatever they required to know, past, present, or to come. (Valentine and Orson.)

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Brasenose (Oxford)
Bravest of the Brave
Brazen Age
Brazen Head
Brazen out (To)
Bread-basket (One’s)
Bread and Cheese
Break (To)
Break Cover (To)
Break Down (To)
Break Faith (To)