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Ancient People in Modern Sayings

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posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 01:28 PM
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Ancient People in Modern Sayings

Does anyone else, familiar with certain sayings such as the Midas Touch or a Herculean Effort, find themselves wondering how they originated? Look no further, I did a little research (thanks Google, Wiki and assorted other sources) and have found some answers:


Pyrrhic Victory

A victory described as such refers to a victory that cost the victor so dearly that one could wonder if winning was actually worth it.

King Pyrrhus of Epirus has the sad distinction of being the person after whom this sort of victory is named.

His armies defeated the Romans in two battles – one at Heraclea in 280 BC and a second at Asculum in 279BC during the Pyrrhic War.

Although the Roman losses were heavier than those of Pyrrhus they suffered less from their casualties since they had a larger army to start with.

Pyrrhus is quoted as saying, after battle of Asculum “Another such victory and I come back to Epirus alone” or that “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined”.



Midas touch

A person can be described as having the Midas touch when everything they do is a resounding success. It is said that everything they touch turns to gold.

King Midas of Phrygia found that having the golden touch did him no good at all as even the food he touched turned to gold, following a prayer granted to him by the god Dionysus.

Dionysus warned him to think carefully about making such a wish but the avaricious Midas insisted that was what he wanted.

Tragically his daughter, too, turned to gold upon receiving his touch causing Midas to appeal to Dionysus to remove the blessing that had now become a curse.

The God instructed Midas to bathe in the River Pactolus, which removed his ability to turn anything into gold, and ancient Greeks were said to find gold on the river banks after Midas's ablutions there.

Interestingly the River Pactolus ran through Lydia, where we find King Croesus (see below) who was credited with issuing the first gold coins.


As Rich as Croesus


Croesus, King of Lydia from 560 – 547BC was renowned for his great wealth and legend has it that he would invite his guests to take with them as much gold as they could carry at the end of their visit.

His golden coins, mentioned above, were made of electrum which is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver.



Herculean Task

Hercules (or Heracles) is a well known figure from Greek mythology and most people will have heard of his 12 Labours.

Anything described as a Herculean Task will be something that took great effort to achieve. His labours are too many for me to list, so here is a link to a site giving details of the tasks set for him to help him to atone for killing his wife and children having been driven mad by the Goddess Hera:

www.perseus.tufts.edu...



Priapic

Something described as Priapic – phallic – is named after Priapus a fertility god from Greek mythology who was the protector of male genitalia along with other fauna and flora.

There is a medical condition referred to as Priapism which afflicts the sufferer with a permanent, or very long lasting, penile erection. This alludes to the god always being represented with an erect phallus.

The stout hearted can Google images of Priapus which I have refrained from featuring here due to my lack of a desire to cause our readership the vapours.



Pandora's Box

It is often said that someone has opened a right Pandora's Box when they spill the beans, giving out information that might have been wiser kept under wraps. Or maybe performed some small action without realising the severe implications it will have.

According to Greek mythology Pandora was the first woman. She was created at the behest of Zeus and given to the God Prometheus's brother, Epimetheus. The gift was not given in a kindly way as Prometheus had fallen foul of Zeus by creating men and providing them with fire, which he had stolen from the Gods.

Prometheus warned Epimetheus to beware of the gift but to no avail. Epimetheus fell in love with, and married, Pandora.

As a wedding present Zeus gave Pandora a beautiful box on the condition that she never open it. Pandora agreed, but found curiosity getting the better of her.

Sadly for humanity, Pandora eventually found the temptation too great to resist and opened the box which, unbeknownst to her, contained all of the evils of the world.

Out flew all manner of ills including old age, disease, greed, violence, death and war. The only thing left in the box after Pandora had frantically closed the lid was the Spirit of Hope.



Cassandra Syndrome

Sometimes a person expressing valid concerns about a particular matter finds themselves to be disbelieved. This circumstance can be referred to as the Cassandra Syndrome.

The real Cassandra was a princess of Troy, the daughter of Priam and Hecuba who reigned during the Trojan War.

She was also a prophetess who attracted the attentions of the God Apollo. After she spurned his advances he cursed her to never have her prophecies believed although they would later prove to be true.

Famously, Cassandra warned the Trojans that the Wooden Horse left as a gift by the Greeks after their ten year siege would bring about the downfall of Troy, but no-one believed her. She was proved to be correct in her assertions after the horse was brought into the city. During the night the Greek heroes, who had been hiding in the horse, let themselves out and went on to sack the city and kill or capture its citizens.


Sword of Damocles

Occasionally a person will find themselves in a situation where a fearful event of some kind looms on the horizon. They will complain of how this forthcoming event is 'hanging over them'. Some might say they feel as if it is the Sword of Damocles which is hanging over them.

The original Damocles appears to have been a bit of a sycophant in the court of Dionysus II of Syracuse in the 4th century BC and should be a lesson to us all to beware when we flatter others.

Damocles observed that Dionysus was fortunate to enjoy such vast wealth and power, obviously failing to grasp that such things can't be enjoyed without a price.

Dionysus offered to exchange places with Damocles so that he too could have taste of what it was like to live in such luxury.

Damocles eagerly ascended the throne anticipating the pleasure of experiencing the wealth and power he had so admired BUT Dionysus arranged a surprise for him.

Suspended over the throne was a mighty sword, hanging by a horse-hair. Dionysus had demonstrated to Damocles that the lot of a ruler is not an easy one and that, for all the great benefits, great fear always exists of an impending disaster.




posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 01:36 PM
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a reply to: berenike

Great read, thanks for the thread! Now I'm trying to recall others I know I've heard but can't dredge up right now.

ETA: Gave up trying to think, because the shrill-voiced woman on the other side of the office is in full Panic Over Everything mode, so here's a nice list of some others (not all entirely fit the OP topic, but are interesting as well.)


Hellinic Times Linky Dinky
edit on 2/8/2016 by dogstar23 because: Added info



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 01:40 PM
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a reply to: berenike

I actually knew all of these.

Engaging "SMUG MODE"

"SMUG MODE ENGAGED"

On a serious note I love these things and great topic. I also love old wives tales and sayings. There is a lot to be learned from this kind of thing.



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 01:53 PM
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Christ on a cracker!
Achilles heel



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 01:54 PM
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originally posted by: nonspecific
a reply to: berenike

I actually knew all of these.

Engaging "SMUG MODE"

"SMUG MODE ENGAGED"

I always think of of red dwarf when I hear that.
Are you a Dwarf fan?



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 01:55 PM
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Epicurean
named for Epicurius
edit on 8-2-2016 by dashen because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 01:58 PM
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Tantalizing
this is fun!



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 02:00 PM
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Platonic



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 02:02 PM
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a reply to: dogstar23

Well, that's scuppered my intentions to tie my brain in a knot trying to think of any more
Ah well, I suppose there's nothing new under the Sun - including my idea for a thread.


@ nonspecific Pics or I don't believe you



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 02:05 PM
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originally posted by: Ismynameimportant

originally posted by: nonspecific
a reply to: berenike

I actually knew all of these.

Engaging "SMUG MODE"

"SMUG MODE ENGAGED"

I always think of of red dwarf when I hear that.
Are you a Dwarf fan?



There was a Krytenesque element involved in that post yes.

Smoke me a kipper I'll be back for breakfast.
edit on 8/2/2016 by nonspecific because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 02:26 PM
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Draconian



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 02:27 PM
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Bachannal



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 02:33 PM
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Wise as solomon.



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 02:36 PM
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a reply to: berenike

Peeping Tom!
The filthy tailor, he just had to have a glimpse of lady Godiva.



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 03:34 PM
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Oedipus complex.
Cutting the Gordian knot.
Caesarian section.



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 04:03 PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions everybody, but if you read dogstar23's link you'll find someone beat us all to it.

If I carry on now I'll be even more worried about accusations of plagiarism. I wrote and researched this little essay a long time ago and the wording is all original but I can't prove I didn't just rehash someone else's work.



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 05:49 PM
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originally posted by: dashen
Christ on a cracker!
Achilles heel


If your a Catholic, Christ IS the cracker.

Now dip my pecker in the river Styx



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 08:02 PM
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Eat drink and be Merry for tomorrow we die.
Eat drink and be merry... the abridged version.
Imhotep. 2650 B.C



posted on Feb, 8 2016 @ 08:08 PM
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Those were a little depressing Sir

"Limerence"

Psyche revived by Cupid's kiss

Lesson I go by my whole life:

True love only exists outside of romantic relationships



posted on Feb, 9 2016 @ 02:37 AM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
Oedipus complex.
Cutting the Gordian knot.
Caesarian section.


The truth about how Caesarian Sections were named:

excerpted:


While “Emperor” might seem implied as he was arguably the best known Julius Caesar, Pliny the Elder clears it up for us. He wrote that the name “Caesar” came from the Latin word “to cut” which is “caedere.”



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