Thursday, April 19, 2007

Laconic

I just love the story of this word.

A laconic man is a person of few words;he is blunt and brief in what he has to say.

We get this word from the Laconians of Greece:
An Athenian herald told them: "If we come to your city, we will raze it to the ground". The Laconians merely answered, "If."

Wikipedia has a few more examples:
  • Herodotus wrote that when before the Battle of Thermopylae, Dienekes the Spartan was told the Persian arrows would be so numerous as to blot out the sun. He responded with "So much the better, we shall fight in the shade." Today Dienekes's phrase is the motto of the Greek 20th Armored Division.
  • On the morning of the third and final day of the battle, Leonidas, knowing they were being surrounded, exhorted his men, "Eat well, for tonight we dine in Hades."(They were obviously pagans!)
  • When asked by a woman from Attica, "Why are you Spartan women the only ones who can rule men?" Gorgo replied, "Because we are also the only ones who give birth to men."
  • Spartan mothers or wives gave a departing warrior his shield with the words: "With it or on it!", implying that he should return (victoriously) with his shield, or (his cremated body in an urn) upon it, but by no means after saving himself by throwing away his heavy shield and fleeing.
  • When a Spartan complained to his mother that his sword was too short, she replied, "It would be long enough if you took a step forward."
Some of you may recognize these Spartan sayings from the movie "300" , which I have not seen and I don't plan to- the level of violence is a bit more than I want to see. And it has all those great special effects and graphics- what a waste!

1 comment:

Pansy said...

Great word. I have a soft spot for all those brave Spartans. I was quite bummed to hear about the movie 300 though. Heard it was actually based off a comic? Doesn't it make it easier to remember the definition of a word when you know how it originated?