I don’t know about you but I just love the history of words and phrases and how they come to be in our language. I’m pretty sad because I actually do read word encyclopedias but if I find out why Americans say fit to be tied or what a night on the tiles means then I’m happy to continue. One subject that not only provides some of our common words but also inspires Hollywood blockbusters is Greek Mythology. Here are some of my favourite stories from Ancient Greece.
1. The Peacocks Tail
Photo Credit: Yvan LEMEUR
If you ever wondered where the pattern on a peacock’s tail comes from it’s all down to a randy Greek god and a jealous wife. Old Zeus was playing away with Io and Hera found out. Zeus turned Io into a white heifer to protect her but Hera sent her faithful watchman Argus to spy on them with his one hundred eyes. Zeus retaliated and sent his mate Hermes into the mix. Hermes played a flute and as each of Argus’s eyes closed in sleep Zeus sealed them shut. Then Hermes slew Argus. Io ran away and that was the end of the affair. Hera then commemorated the death of Argus by imposing the eye pattern onto the tail of her favourite bird, the Peacock. This is also thought to be the origin of the saying – sleep with one eye open.