Saturday, April 30, 2011

Parallel - Mountaineers with Throats like Wallets

First, Shake-Speare:

                   "When we were boys,
Who would believe that there were mountaineers
Dew-lapp'd like bulls
, whose throats had hanging at 'em
Wallets of flesh"?
The Tempest  3.3.45-7

And, Bacon: "Snow water is held unwholesome; inasmuch as the people that dwell at the foot of the snow mountains, or otherwise upon ascent, especially the women, by drinking snow water have great bags under their throats.
    Natural History

Comment: The Variorum editor points out that in Roman times, as we know from Juvenal Satire xiii.168, the Swiss were reputed to suffer form goitre. But he does not think that Shake-Speare's "wallets of flesh" would be an apt description of goitre. So he suggests that he was referring to some different people known as Satires who, according to medieval travellers' tales, had pouches of flesh beneath their throats and carried their meat in them. In fact, Shake-Speare's "mountaineers" shows that he was referring to the Swiss and other mountain dwellers, just as Bacon was. Whether or not "wallets of flesh" was an apt description, it is how Shake-Speare and Bacon ("great bags hanging under their throats") both conceived the matter.

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