Thursday 31 December 2009


I told you that there would be another post on Thomas Browne's Religio Medici. It has been slow in coming but I read at the speed of a retarded six-year-old. This from page 55:

All flesh is grass, is not only metaphorically, but literally, true ; for all those creatures we behold are but the herbs of the field, digested into flesh in them, or more remotely carnified in our selves.

Is it me, or does the word carnified somehow suggest employment in a travelling circus? Of course it means turned into meat, as in carnivorous or the carnal embrace discussed in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia.

THOMASINA: Septimus, what is carnal embrace?

SEPTIMUS: Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one’s arms around a side of beef.

THOMASINA: Is that all?

SEPTIMUS: No......a shoulder of mutton, a haunch of venison well-hugged, an embrace of grouse....caro, carnis; feminine; flesh.

THOMASINA: Is it a sin?

SEPTIMUS: Not necessarily, my lady, but when carnal embrace is sinful it is a sin of the flesh, QED.

Also in the Browne, observe the early modern plague of commas.



  1. If "carnified" sounds like it has to do with a circus, what does "rectified" sound like?

    I apologize.

  2. Never apologize. The right sort don't want it and the wrong sort will use it against you.