In Reply to: The worm has turned posted by WormTurner on September 18, 2008 at 10:30:
: I have read previous posts about "the worm has turned" but they don't make sense to me. They suggest that even a lowly earthworm will attack when stepped on, which is clearly untrue.
: It occurs to me that "worm" archaically meant "snake" which makes more sense. Why would Shakespeare say "even the smallest [earth]worm" when the size would hardly matter? "Even the smallest snake" makes more sense.
But when Shakespeare says "The smallest worm will turn, being trodden on" he can't have meant "snake", because this passage is a list of what various animals will do, and he has mentioned "serpent" in the previous line! (VSD)