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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Influence of Greek

The Acropolis
The Greek influence is greater than i know. I knew they started the Olympics, and athletes used to throw steel balls (shot put)or jump javelin naked. Little did i know that, Nike and Pepsi are also Greek names. It was certainly a moment of eureka for me.
It is catastrophic to be ignorant of the greek influence, especially when we use them so much in the English language.
My first time in Greece turned out to be a language lesson among other things. I discovered the origins of English phrases. Greek mythology actually had such an impact on the world!
Diving in Mykonos
Atlas, as we all know means a collection of maps. It derived from a Greek God with the same name who held up the world with his shoulders.

The word erotic came from the Greek character Eros aka Cupid. Cupid is more commonly known as the angel of love, but he is actually horny little thing out to create havoc. His interventions often cause Gods and men to fall in love, often when already married. No wonder 'erotic' sounds more titillating than any other word to describe love making. 
I learned a new phrase, the midas touch. It means good fortune in everything you do. It came from the Greek myth that King Midas wished that everything he touched be turned into gold. It came true but realised that this new power prevents him from touching loved ones. I would think this myth would fit the phrase 'be careful what you wish for' better, but to say that teacher has the midas touch means he turns any student into one of the best. 
You probably already know an archilles' heel. It means a tragic weakness or flaw and the expression comes from Archilles who is invincible but his heel, the one vulnerable spot. He died of a wound to the heel. 
The word echo has a very scandalous beginning. Even more so than eroticIn the ancient tales, Echo was a mountain nymph who talks excessively with her gorgeous voice. Her voice was so lovely that she would often distract Zeus’ wife Hera with her long and entertaining stories while Zeus would sneak away and make love with the other mountain nymphs. When Hera found out about Echo’s role in her husband’s activities, she punished her by taking away her ability to speak, except in repetition of the words of others.
 There are a ton more other words that are names of Greek Gods. Like Nemesis, the god who took revenge against those who showed arrogance before the gods. Or phobia, or cloth, chronology, fortune, hypnosis, morphine, or even cereal!

I could go on, but my favourite has to be the word narcissism. Narcissus is a gorgeous half-nymph and half-god. So proud was he of his own looks that he hated anyone who dared love him. Nemesis punished Narcissus by luring him to a pool of water where he could see his own reflection. There are 2 versions to his end. One was where he commits suicide, but for someone who loves himself so much, i don't think he can bring himself to scar his body. The other is that Narcissus doesn't realise it is his reflection and falls in love with it (himbo), refusing to leave until he eventually dies of hunger. 

Yes, narcissism don't lead to a good end. 

P.S all pictures taken in Greece


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