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Common Phrases and Logos from Greek Mythology

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Dana Andrews

on 1 August 2015

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Transcript of Common Phrases and Logos from Greek Mythology

Achilles' Heel
Meaning: A person's weak spot.

Greek Myth: A hero of the Trojan War, Achilles was a Greek hero whose mother Thetis was a Nereid, or sea goddess. Since Achilles was destined to die young, Thetis dipped him into the river Styx, which would render him invincible. However, she had held him by the heel, thus leaving a vulnerable area. He would later die, as prophesized, by an arrow to his heel.
Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts
Meaning: Be weary of anyone offering something; they may have an ulterior motive.

Greek Myth: Though it may have been Virgil in his masterpiece the Aeneid who immortalized this phrase " I fear Greeks even bearing gifts", it can initially be attributed to the Trojan Horse and the "gift" the goddess Athene gave Priam's barricaded city. The horse contained armed men who sacked Troy during the night.
Meaning: An experienced and trusted advisor.
Example: “It’s no wonder Anthony Hopkins is such an amazing actor; he had Laurence Olivier as a mentor!”

During the ten long years of The Odyssey, and the ten previous years of The Trojan War, Odysseus’ son, Telemachus, was left without a father. Athena, who was on the Greek side of the whole affair, came down to serve as a teacher to Telemachus. Her human form was named Mentor, and this is where the term comes from.
To Harp
Meaning: to talk/write tediously and persistently on a particular topic.

Example: “My wife is such a nag, she won’t stop harping on me about those bills!”

This word comes from the Greek mythological creature, the Harpy. Harpies were birds with the heads of beautiful women (though in later mythology they were confused with other creatures and became hideous women). The Harpies were agents of justice. They abducted people and tortured guilty parties the entire way to Tartarus.
The Midas Touch
Meaning: The good fortune of having everything associated flourish.

Example: “Did you know Steve Jobs co founded Pixar? That man had the Midas Touch.
Meaning: Passionate rage.

Example: “The coach was furious over the game.”

The Furies (Roman), the Erinyes (Greek), were the Ancient Greek avengers. They were chaotic spirits of vengeance.

Meaning: Mortal enemy. Usually associated with superheros.

Example: “Superman's nemesis is Lex Luthor.”

Along with the gods, the Ancient Greeks had personifications. These were beings who literally were a concept. Apollo was god of the sun, but Helios was the sun. Nemesis is the Ancient Greek personification of divine retribution. Her name comes from the Greek meaning “given what is due.”
Meaning: A crippling fear.
Example: “You may not want to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets if you have a phobia of spiders or snakes.”
Phobia comes from the name Phobos, the son of the Greek god Ares. Phobos literally meant “fear” or “terror” and was known for accompanying his father, “war”, into battle. If you want to imagine crippling fear, just picture an armed Spartan charging you with a spear.
Trojan Horse
Meaning: A virus that gets into a computer disguised as a friendly program.

Example: “I thought I was downloading a screen saver, but the file had a Trojan.”

The previous information about Greeks bearing gifts applies here.
Common Phrases and Logos from Greek Mythology
An ideal, handsome human being, usually male.

Example: “Brad Pitt is seen by many as a modern Adonis.”

Adonis was a beautiful young boy, who Aphrodite fell in love with because of Eros’ (Cupid; Roman) arrow. She gave him to Persephone to be sheltered as he grew, but his beauty was so great that Persephone refused to give him back.
Meaning: Disorderly, extreme confusion

Greek Myth: According to the Latin poet Ovid, who relayed the the myths of Greece and Rome in his Metamorphoses, the gap which all the universe sprung from. Chaos represented the disorder before the gods; eventually, Chaos begot the beginning of it.
Leave No Stone Unturned
Meaning: Search every minute detail

Greek Myth: Eurystheus, the king responsible for Heracles's twelve labors, eventually goes after Heracles's sons following his death. He wants "no stone left unturned" in finding and killing them. Euripedes, better known for his masterpiece The Bacchae, wrote a play with this catch-phrase included in it.
Nike: The goddess of victory
Hermes or Mercury: Messenger of the gods
Hermes staff
King Midas: The Golden Touch
Hermes winged shoe
Poseidon's Trident
Ajax: Greek hero
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