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OT: Salad Days, was Re: Borrowing Wordlist

From:Doug Dee <amateurlinguist@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 23:41
In a message dated 10/20/2004 11:32:20 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
scaves@FRONTIERNET.NET writes:

>> Salad days? I've seen this expression a few times before on the list. >> What does >> it mean? How did it originate?
>I may be wrong, and I'm going entirely on feeble memory, but I think it's >from Shakespeare, and specifically from Antony and Cleopatra, a comment >Cleopatra utters. Or, it may be from Troilus and Cressida, and a comment >Cressida utters. The idea is that you eat the salad first in a course of >meals for dinner that hasn't changed since medieval times. Salad, soup, >entree, second entree, dessert.
The reference is to Antony & Cleopatra, Act I Scene v line 73. Cleopatra says "My salad days, when I was green in judgement, cold in blood, to say as I said then!" I have my doubts about the explanation that the salad course comes first -- I seem to recall reading somewhere that in the 19th century, salads did not come first; so, the salad-first custom may not be old enough. Fowler's Modern English Usage (2nd ed.) observes "whether the point is that youth, like salad, is green and raw, or that salad is highly flavoured and youth loves high flavors, or that innocent herbs are youth's food as milk is babes' and meat is men's, few of those who use the phrase could perhaps tell us." Doug


Sally Caves <scaves@...>