Posted by R. Berg on October 19, 2003
In Reply to: In a passage on Columbus posted by ESC on October 19, 2003
: : At the age of twenty-four, by a lucky chance, Columbus was thrown into Lisbon, center of European oceanic enterprise. There, he conceived the great enterprise that few but a sailor would have planned, and none but a sailor could have executed. His idea was to reach "The Indias".
: : 1.What does "thrown into" mean?
: : 2.What does "few but", "none but" mean?
: "Thrown into." He was in the city with little preparation, orientation. Just thrown in to sink or swim.
: It's possible that a non-sailor could have conceived the plan but it would have been unusual. Only a sailor could have actually executed the plan.
"But" means "except" in contexts like that. Few persons except a sailor. No person except a sailor.