The following are noted:- One by Albertus Magnus, which cost
him thirty years' labour, and was broken into a thousand pieces by
Thomas Aquinas, his disciple. One by Friar Bacon.
“Bacon trembled for his brazen head.”
Quoth he, `My head's not made of brass,
As Friar Bacon's noddle was.'
S. Butler: Hudibras, ii. 2.
The brazen head of the Marquis de Villena, of Spain.
Another by a Polander, a disciple of Escotillo, an Italian. It was
said if Bacon heard his head speak he would succeed; if not, he would
fail. Miles was set to watch, and while Bacon slept the Head spoke
thrice: “Time is”; half an hour later it said, “Time was.” In another half-hour it said, “Time's past,” fell down, and was broken to
atoms. Byron refers to this legend.
“Like Friar Bacon's brazen head, I've spoken, `Time is,' `Time was,'
`Time's past.' ”
Don Juan, i. 217.
A gigantic head kept in the castle of the giant Ferragus, of
Portugal. It was omniscient, and told those who consulted it whatever
they required to know, past, present, or to come. (Valentine and Orson.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894