As public education gets further and further desecrated by Common Core, one of the things that is falling to the wayside is Greek Mythology. While, perhaps at first thought, people may think that it’s an antiquated and irrelevant unit that was normally covered in 9th grade English curriculum, I urge you to think again.
The classroom definition of literary allusion is, “A reference, implied or indirect, to another person, event or circumstance within another text.??? In layman’s terms, this simply means mentioning one work of literature in another. The rub lies in that in order to understand the literary allusion, one must be exposed to the original source of which one alluded. Two major sources of literary allusion are The Holy Bible and Greek Mythology. In order for today’s youngsters to fully comprehend some of the world’s best literature it is imperative that they are exposed to these sources, if only for literary gain.
This list is just a small compilation of allusions we use every day that are traced back to the ancient Greek myths.
- Oedipus: Sigmund Freud is credited with coining the phrase, “The Oedipus Complex.??? Oedipus Rex, the king who fulfills the oracle’s prophecy and kills his father and marries his mother is not only an engaging Greek tragedy, but also a developmental phase recognized in young boys. However endearing it is to hear a tiny tot say, “I love Mommy. I want to marry her,??? It holds more credence when you know the source.
- King Midas: The Midas touch…everything he touches turns to gold. The king begged the gods for this gift, until it backfired and he turned his little daughter into a gold statue.
- The FTD logo: Everyone knows the dashing gold man that peppers flower commercials. Did you know that he’s Hermes? He’s the god of messengers.
- Narcissus: To be called a “Narcissist??? means to be in love with yourself. We know that. Did you know the word comes from Narcissus? He was an extremely handsome huntsman and that upon seeing his own reflection in a pool of water he was unable to pull himself away. He drowned and his downfall was being so in love with himself that he ignored everything else.
- Nike: Yes, we know it as an icon in itself for sports. It comes from the Greek sprite, Nike. She was the winged goddess of victory in battle.
- Pandora: The music, the jewelry, both of them hold symbolism in opening the box, releasing all of the evil in the world and being left with hope. In fact, Pandora’s name in Greek mythology means, “all gifted.???
- The Days of the Week: Monday, Moon day (Lunedi in Italian.) Monday is named for the goddess of the moon. (So was I. It’s Cynthia.) Tuesday is named for the god of war, Mars. (Mardi, Martedi, Tuesday.) Wednesday is named for the god, Mercury. The word for Wednesday in Italian is Mercoledi.) Thursday is really Thor’s Day. The god of thunder. Friday is named for the Goddess of Love. Aphrodite’s Roman name is Venus. Venerdi is the Italian name for Friday. Incidentally, that’s why we call them “Venereal??? Disease…Saturday is named for Saturn. Saturn was the father of Zeus.
- Chronos is the god of time. We use the word “chronological??? every day to describe things in “time order.???
Kudos to you as well if you’ve noticed that the days of the week are also, (no pun intended) in alignment with the planets. While you’re up there, notice the stars. Orion, Cassiopeia, and Andromeda to name just a few…
And an additional kudos if you recognize that kudos is a Greek word attributed to being used for the first time in The Iliad.