Christianity evolved in a Roman/Greek world and English evolved largely in a Christian milieu. Consequently English is peppered with words and expressions that allude to both Biblical and Greek stories/myths. How important is it to know these stories to use the allusions? How important is it to not let these allusions disappear from English?
Language evolves and words/phrases die as they loose users. Biblical and Greek phrases were used much more in the past then they are today — often, in my opinion, to show erudition [intentional ironic choice of wording].
Whereas today, to have meaningful conversation it is not Greek myths or Biblical stories that are needed to understand common conversations, but a certain fluency in sports, commercials, movies, TV shows, songs, politics and celebrity gossip. Here are two such images found recently in European magazines — one Classical Greek, one Classical Hollywood.
|Merkel devours Greece||Merkel as “The Terminator”|
Occasionally, an allusion to science graces our language too, but like the ancient myths, few of the speakers who use the expression really understand the science behind it. But does this matter? For most of the time, the listener knows the meaning of the phrase.
Question to readers: Which Biblical or Greek myth expressions would you feel sad for when or if they atropy and die in the English language? What are some of your favorite classic allusions?
Here are the favorite literary allusions submitted by readers so far:
|Greek Allusions||Biblical Allusions