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Chapter 9

MYTHS ORIGINATING WORDS OR CONCEPTS

Daedalus

A renown Athenian craftsman, Daedalus was entrusted with his nephew, Perdix, to impart to him his wisdom. However, his pupil developed into a better inventor, and, in jeaolusy, Daedalus murdered him (see myth of Perdix). For this crime, Daedalus was tried, and exiled to Crete. There, he found favor with King Minos by his ample talents. He was secretly commisioned by the Queen, Pasiphae, to allow her to fullfill her passion with a bull. Daedalus constructed a wooden cow, within which had space for Pasiphae to position herself , to allow for coupling with the bull. The product of this conception was the infamous Minotaur, a monster whose upper half was human, and lower half bull-like. Shamed, King Minos had Daedalus build the Labyrinth in which to hide the monster. When Theseus, the Greek prince, came to Crete to try to kill the Minotaur (see myth of Theseus), Daedalus aided him. Theseus was successful, but Minos discovered that Daedalus helped him. Therefore Minos imprisioned Daedalus and his son, Icarus , in the Labyrinth, from which they later scaped by fashioning wings to fly out.

Daedalus, after burying his son who fell to his death from the skies then he went to Sicily to the court of King Cocalus, where he again gained favor by his talents. Minos, determined to punish Daedalus to exact retribution, but did not know where he was. He constructed a problem, which , he reasoned, only Daedalus would surface to solve. He let it be known that anyone who could pass a thread through Triton shell would be amply rewarded.

When the Triton shell was returned to him from the court of King Cocalus threaded, he knew that Daedalus was there. Daedalus had solve the riddle, by boring a hole in one end of the shell, and tying the thread to an ant, which carried the thread entirely through. Minos went to Sicily, demanding the return of Daedalus.

But the King felt that Daedalus was valuable, and refused King Minos' request. Instead, Daedalus and King Cocalus plotted together, and drowned Minos in his bath.

Today, 'Daedalian' connotes something that is ingenious, or intricate, much as the Laberinth constructed by him.

Icarus

Son of the skilled craftsman and inventor, Daedalus, Icarus was imprisioned in the Laberynth along with his father. The Laberynth had been constructed by Deadalus to house Minoteur, the monster born to Pasiphae and a bull. Because Daedalus had aided Theseus in defeating the Minotaur, King Minos punished Daedalus and his son, Icarus, by imprisioning them in the maze.

But Daedalus had constructed the Laberynth, and knew there was but one way out-the sky. Therefore, he constructed two sets of wings for himself and his son, made of feathers and wax. Before setting out, he warned his son to not go too low, since the water would make the wings heavily.

Iniatially, the flight went well, but soon the exuberance of flying made Icarus go too high, and the heat melted the wax, causing him to fall to his death. The area where he fell is now called the Icarian Sea, and the Isle nearby, Icarus.

The word 'Icarian' means something that is rash, or foolhardy, as was the final impetuous act of Icarus.

Myrmidons

Zeus had an affair with the maiden, Aegina, producing Aeacus, who later became the King of the Isle named after the mother, Aegina.Hera, in her usual jealous fashion, punished Aeucus by sending a plague to Aegina, entirely wiping out the inhabitants

. Distraught, Aeacus prayed to his father, Zeus, to repopulate his island. He asked for people as hard-workimg and industrious as the ants upon which he was gazing as he prayed. Zeus did so Aecaus. Like the character of ants, the people were known for their industriousness, and devotion, and were called the 'Myrmidons'. Later, in fact, Achilles led the 'Mirmidons' in battle at the Trojan War.

The meaning of the word, 'myrmidon', today signifies a person that is unwavering in loyalty and service, without regard to morality.

Hermaphrodite

Hermaphrodite was a son of Hermes and Aphrodite ('Hermaphrdite'). One day, he was innocently swimming in a lake, when the nymph of the lake, Salmaniacs, saw him, immediately falling in love. But Hermaphrodite rejected her. Undeterred, Salmacis embraced him, while praying to the Gods that they never part. This wish the Gods literally granted, joining both male Hermaphrodite and the female, Samacis, together, so the final body pocessed the sexual characteristics of both sexes. Today,'hermaphrodite' is a medical term, meaning a organism which possesses both male, and female, sexual characteristics.

Stentor

Stentor was a Greek herald, who fought in the Trojan War. He was renown for his loud voice, allegedly which reached the decibel level of 50 men.

Today, the adjective 'stentorian' implies a very loud voice.

Pyrrhus

King Pyrrus was a Greek, who ruled Epicus. He fought against the romans at Asculum in 279 B.C. He won the battle, but sustained very heavy losses.

Today, a "Pyrrhic victory" signifies a win, which is as costly as a loss, or more.

Europa

Europa was a daughter of Agenor, sister of Cadmus. She lived in the land of Phoenicia. Zeus, after seeing her, became smitten, and made designs to carry her off.

Since Hera was ever-suspicious, Zeus went to meet Europa, disguised as a white bull. While Europa was picking flowers in the fields near the sea, the gentle white bull approached her, eventually coaxing Europa to get on its back. Once there, the bull quickly flew over land and sea to the Isle of Crete, home of Zeus, where the white bull transformed to its true self, Zeus, and he lay with her, producing three offspring; Minos, Rhabdamanthys, and Sarpedon. Zeus presented her with three gifts; an unerring spear, the ever-persuing hound, Laelaps, and Talos, the bronze giant.

This mythological character gave the name of 'Europe' to the continent.

King Gordius

Originally a peasant, Gordious of Phyrgia accidentally became the King in a unusual manner. After the King of Phrygia died, leaving no heir, an oracle foretold that the next ruler would approach Phrygia in an oxcart. This person just happened to be Gordius, who also had an eagle, a sign of Zeus, perched on the cart. This the Phrygians took as a further sign that Gordius was indeed, their next ruler.

As his first act as king, Gordius tied his oxcart to a pole with a very intricate knot, dedicating the cart to Zeus. It is said that whoever could unravel the knot would rule all of Europe and Asia.

For the next few centuries, many tried, and all failed. Finally, alexander of Macedonia, later known as alexander the Great, simply took his sword, and sliced through the knot. He then, of course, went on to conquer all of Europe and Asia, fullfilling the prediction.

Today, to 'cut the Gordian knot' means to take decisive, quick action to solve a complicated problem, as Alexander did

Trophonius

Trophonius and his brother, Agamenedes, helped build Apollo's temple at Delphi. For this act, Apollo made him a god, and allowed him to predict the future, from a cave between Delphi and Athens. Visitors to this cave had to undergo a long, arduos ceremony before they received an oracle. Trophonius' oracles became known for their gloominess, and pessimism.

Today, someone who has been to the 'cave of Trophonius' is a person who feels that he knows the future, and is saddened by it.

Thersites

Theresites, a Greek soldier in the Trojan War, was portrayed in the Ilias as a foul-mouthed, mocking person. He even berated Odysseus, and Agamemnon, accusing them of wagiing the war for personal gain. But Thersites went too far when he accused Achilles of unnatural lust, as Achilles of gazed upon the recently killed Trojan ally, Queen Penthesialea of the Amazons. Achilles struck him dead with one blow of his sword, an act for which he later had to atone.

Today, the adjective, 'thersitical' connotes loud-mouthed, and mocking, as Thersites had been.

Momus

Son of god Night, Momus was known for his grumbling , and fault-finding, even in Olympus. He criticized Zeus for putting the bull's on its head, rather than its shoulders. He ridiculed Hephaestus, Poseidon, athena, and Aohrodite for various reasons.

Finally, he was banished from Olympus.

Today, a 'Momus, or a 'son or daughter of Momus' is a person who is constantly criticizing, or fault-finding.

Mentor

During his absence from his home of Ithaca during the Trojan War, Odysseus entrusted his household, and care of his child, Telemachus, to his noble friend, Mentor. When Odysseus returned to Ithaca to slays his wife's suitors, Athena, to restore order, assumed the form of Mentor to mediate between the families of the slain suitors, and Odysseus, to restore order.

Today, a 'mentor' is known as a sage teacher, guide, or coach, to an inexperienced individual, as Mentor had been to Telemachus.

Tenedus

Cycnus, King of Colonae, acity near Troy, was married to Proclaeia, having a son, Tenes. Procleia died, and Cycnus remarried, to Phylomene. This stepmother fell in love with Tenes, who rejected her love. In spite, she told Cycnus that Tenes had tried to seduce her, so Cycnus set Tenes adrift in the sea in a chest. He came ashore on an island, eventually becoming the ruler of that land, later known as Tenedos.

Later, Cycnus became aware of the treachery of Phylonome. He buried her alive in punishment, and traveled to Tenedos to attempt to reconcile with his entranged son, Tenes. But Tenes was not so forgiving, cutting the cables of the ship of Cycnus' anchored boat with an axe.

Today, 'cutting with an axe from Tenedos' signifies an angry refusal to an act of reconciliation, as was that of Tenes with his father.