I can behold no mortal now.

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nontan

Member
Japanese
Hi everybody!

"I can behold no mortal now."

Though the above sentence is shown in the dictionary as an example usage of 'mortal' as a noun, I have no idea what it says.
http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/mortal

MOR'TAL, n. Man; a being subject to death; a human being.
Based on the above meanings, which of the following sentences is correct?

I can perceive a woman.
I can perceive a being subject not to death.
I can perceive God.
 
  • MichaelW

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    Mortal here means a human being. "Man" does not refer to man as opposed to woman, but to Mankind in general.

    I cannot see anybody now.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    This is an 1828 dictionary. The line above introducing this quote is
    "It is often used in ludicrous and colloquial language."
    This is a ludicrous and colloquial (for 1828) usage. It's from a (rather silly) poem by Matthew Prior (1664-1721) about a woman who has somehow lost her eyebrow - she says:
    "I can behold no mortal now:
    For what's an eye without a brow?"
     

    nontan

    Member
    Japanese
    Thanks Myridon-san for your answer.

    I still need a little more your explanation about the sentence. When I was young, my mother did my haircut and happed to cut off my left eyebrow and both at final to make balancing. I felt so ashamed to go to school and couldn’t feel I was alive. Is it what she is saying that she cannot feel like alive without eyebrow?
     

    MichaelW

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    In this particular context (the poem) Helen's maid has lost Helen's eyebrow box (for artificial cosmetic eyebrows).

    So Helen refuses to see (meet with) anyone, because she is vain and cannot bear the idea of anyone seeing her without her eyebrows on.

    In this case "I can behold no mortal now" is a humorously over-dramatic way of saying "I cannot bear to meet with anyone now that my eyebrows are lost".

    It is a variant of a common usage of "see" to mean look with the eyes and "see" meaning "meet with".
     
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