Friar Bacon's Brass Head: in Robert Greene's prose comedy Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (1594) set in thirteenth-century Oxford Franciscan Friars Roger Bacon and Thomas Bungay manufacture a head of brass, upon which the Devil confers powers of speech. Unfortunately, it will speak only once a month, and the friars must be present to hear it. After three weeks of watching day and night, Bacon deputes the task of watching to his foolish assistant Miles. The head utters two words ("Time is"), which Miles does not think important enough to convey to his master, who has passed out from exhaustion. The head then says "Time was" and "Time is past" before falling on the floor and being completely shattered. Bacon, suddenly awakened, chastises Miles for his ineptitude.

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Last modified 18 August 2004