Monday, July 05, 2004



In his biography of Thomas More (1935; rpt, London: Jonathan Cape, 1976), p. 164, R.W. Chambers writes:
But the English long-bow was still a terrible weapon in the hands of men long trained to use it from childhood; and Englishmen, from the King downward, were so trained. Everyone learned 'how to lay his body in his bow, and not to draw with strength of arms as other nations do, but with strength of the body'. Scholars like Ascham, lawyers like Rastell, preachers like Latimer -- they were all expert bowmen. Archery was a fashion and a passion; the modern craze for golf affords only a faint parallel.
I've been reading Roger Ascham's treatise on archery, Toxophilus (1545). The title comes from Greek roots (toxon, philos) and means 'Bow Lover', but the book itself is in English. Although I haven't read all of it yet, one odd thing struck me -- the words 'arrow' and 'target' don't seem to appear anywhere. Ascham uses 'shaft' instead of 'arrow', 'mark' or 'prick' instead of 'target'. I don't have a historical English dictionary available, but I'm curious about when the modern terms replaced the older ones.

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