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Macbeth Glossary

Witches' mummy, maw and gulf (4.1.23)

mummy ] mummified flesh.
Editor W. G. Clark explains the significance of mummified flesh in his edition of Macbeth:

Mummy was used as a medicine both long before and long after our author's time. Sir Thomas Browne, in his Fragment on Mummies, tells us that Francis the First always carried mummy with him as a panacea against all disorders. Some used it for epilepsy, some for gout, some used it as a stiptic. He goes on: ' The common opinion of the virtues of mummy bred great consumption thereof, and princes and great men contended for this strange panacea, wherein Jews dealt largely manufacturing mummies from dead carcases and giving them the names of kings, while specifics were compounded from crosses and gibbet leavings.' The same author, in his Hydriotaphia (ch. v.) says: ' The Egyptian mummies which Cambyses spared, avarice now consumeth. Mummy is become merchandize, Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for balsams.' In Webster, The White Devil, i. 1, we find:

'Your followers
Have swallowed you like mummia, and, being sick,
With such unnatural and horrid physic,
Vomit you up in the kennel.' (143)

maw and gulf ] stomach and throat.

Back to Macbeth (4.1)

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Eds. W. G. Clark and W. A. Wright. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1878.

How to cite this article:

Mabillard, Amanda. Macbeth Glossary. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2009. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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