English Expressions Derived From Greek Mythology
Many English phrases have their origin in Greek mythology. Some of the mythological allusions are:
Pandora’s box: According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman on earth. Created by Zeus in revenge for Prometheus’s stealing of fire, she was given a box that she was told not to open. Either she or her husband Epimetheus opened the box, allowing all kinds of evils to escape and plague the world. A Pandora’s box is anything that, upon investigation, leads to extensive and unexpected troubles.
Promethean: In Greek mythology, Prometheus defied Zeus and stole fire from the heavens and gave it to the human race. His name has become associated with bold originality and creativity.
Achilles heel: Achilles is a great warrior in Greek mythology. He was made invulnerable as a baby by being dipped into the River Styx. Only his heel—the place he was held by when being dipped—was left unprotected, which led to his downfall when it was struck by an arrow. An Achilles heel refers to a person’s vulnerability or fatal flaw.
Argus-eyed: According to the Greek legend, Argus had 100 eyes. The Greek queen Juno had him spy on her wayward husband, Zeus. You are Argus-eyed if you are jealously watchful.
Herculean: Hercules was a hero in Greek mythology. He was renowned for his strength and courage and is best known for completing his 12 labors, which included killing or capturing legendary creatures, gaining various items, and diverting a river to clean out the stables of Augeas. A Herculean feat is one very hard to perform, especially one requiring great strength and courage.
Nemesis: Nemesis was a Greek goddess of retribution – the incarnation of the gods’ revenge for violating their laws. As the gods’ retribution could not be avoided, a nemesis is not only an agent of punishment, but any challenge or opponent that a person is unable to defeat.
Protean: Proteus was a Greek god who had the ability to change his shape. Someone or something that easily adapts to changing situations or roles by changing itself is described as protean.