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In a Nutshell

There is an idiom that is used to tell everyone something in a short and brief manner and that is in a nutshell. What is interesting is the origin of this particular idiom. Once in ancient Rome, there was an encyclopedist named Pliny the Elder. He said that there was a copy of “The Iliad” by Homer that could fit into a walnut shell.

In the early 1700s around 2000 years later, the Bishop of Avranches decided to test Pliny’s theory. Whether there already existed such a tiny copy or not the bishop took it upon himself to write out the epic in tiny handwriting on a piece of paper the size of a walnut. It is a wonder that he didn’t get major eye strain, hand cramps or even get cross-eyed but he did it and now there really exists a copy of “The Iliad” that could fit into a walnut shell.

  • Question of

    Have you heard this idiom in a nutshell?

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  • Question of

    Have you read The Iliad by Homer?

    • Yes
    • No

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  1. Maybe Pliny the Elder– Roman 79AD was scoffing Greek Homer’s, 12th-8th BC, writing. Pliny was mocking Homer’s epic record in poetry of the narrative detailing of a battle and voyages, particularly the Greek mythology, The Trojan War– war between the Trojans and the Troys. A very significant and important part of Homer’s writings in his time. Then, Pliny condescendingly criticized Homer’s great work saying, “What a nut thing to say! Leave your Trojan War ‘mythical’ records of your ‘heroes’ in your own ‘shell’ and ‘bubble.’ 😀 Just my analysis.

    Anyway, I have before me right now as of this comment ( I dug it out from our home library) are books by Homer from the Harvard Classics, and Homer The Odyssey the Penguin Classics, and Iliad by Homer on Kindle. Sorry, I’m not bragging. Just excited.

    Thanks for your great post! I love learning and medieval history, too. 🙂

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