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Scaphism

Locking up a criminal in the trunk of a tree, bored through so as just to admit the body. Five holes were made- one for the head, and the others for the hands and legs. These parts were anointed with honey to invite the wasps. In this situation the criminal would linger in the burning sun for several days. (Greek, skaphe, anything scooped out.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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More on Scaphism from Infoplease:

  • Scaphism - Scaphism Locking up a criminal in the trunk of a tree, bored through so as just to admit the body. ...
  • Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: S - Definitions, origins, and illustrative excerpts for words, phases, and literary allusions starting with "S"

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