Sunday, November 7

Here's a pretty easy one. Well, maybe.

For some reason, Zeus always looks pissed off

The Earth, Sun, and Moon are all names which derive from Anglo-Saxon, as are most common words in modern English. But the language of science (and learning in general) is Latin, and the languages of the classical era Latin and Greek (primarily Greek), with a little landbridge so to speak of Arabic and Hindi to keep the classic knowledge alive while Europe devolved into illiterate churchgoers for a handful of centuries, killed cats and worsened the sweeps of plague (which lived inside fleas which lived on mice which cats conveniently eat), who lived in unthinkable squalor and absolutely loved it (ok, I made that last part up), and who generally lost their savoir vivre and drive to make inquiries about the natural world since of course, all knowledge is contained within a children's book called The Bible.

When the Enlightenment came round and people started to ponder the Universe they lived in again, this time developing rigorous and systematic methods for doing so objectively, rejecting supernaturalism, and doing such unbecoming things as staying up all night and pointing crude spyglasses into the black vault overhead, they made discoveries that were communicated, as stated, in the lingua franca of learned men and women - Latin.

And thus apart from the three heavenly bodies I mentioned above, for which all ancients surely had useful, unfancy homegrown names since the advent of language, the new objects in the sky were given Latin appellations. And what's more, thanks to a happy foresight of sorts, it was settled very early on that heavenly bodies would not be named haphazardly or after monarchs or rich patrons, but would be kept pleasingly consistent by using the overarching theme of classical mythology. This practice has since been followed in all but a very few cases (Titania and Oberon, anyone?). However, though the bodies themselves were styled after Greek deities, they were actually named using the Latin (Roman) equivalent, to be "scientific" about it.

Therefore most of the planets and moons and other interesting features of the solar system bear Latin names. So with this unprecedentedly long-winded introduction nearly over, I have a task for you, Gentle Reader. For each of the below common names (which whether you know it or not are Latin - mostly), I'd like you to give me a) The Greek equivalent, or b) The vocation or origin of the name ('X was the name for the god of Y, and was the son of Q', that sort of thing - I don't need a full biography and CV but just an idea of who they were in the popular imagination of antiquity), or if you're feeling extra cheeky and would really like to butter me up but cannot afford to send cash, try to do c) Both!

Here we go!
1. Mercury
2. Venus
3. Mars
4. Ceres (the biggest asteroid in the asteroid belt and briefly considered a new planet)
5a. Jupiter
5b through 5e: Jupiter's four large moons: b. Ganymede, c. Europa, d. Callisto, e. Io
7a. Saturn
7b. Saturn's single large moon, Titan (hint: this is a bit of a trick question)
8a. Uranus (no jokes, please)
8b. Uranus's single large moon, Hemorrhoid. Wait! I meant Triton
9. Neptune
10a. In the spirit of magnanimity, I'll include the demoted "dwarf planet" Pluto here
10b. Pluto's "moon" - more accurately the smaller member of its double-body system, Charon

Bonus!
11. Andromeda, our friendly neighboring galaxy, which is due to gobble us up in a few billion years

Without wikicheataping, how well can you do? Don't worry, it bears no reflection on you as a person, just your nerdy knowledge of astronomy and classical mythology. Oh, and your morals. I will be quite lenient in my grading and this should not be thought of as a competition so much as an opportunity for intellectual edification.

I will provide an answer key once I'm convinced no one wants to play. Have fun!

20 comments:

Hans said...

Rarr! Cats don't know about Latin or Greek, so we declaw to answer these. We'll go back to sleep now...purrrrrrrrrrrr.

Metamatician said...

}:8) "My crackademic skills presemble yours exactly! I don't know Latino either. I barely know how to moo in the present tense, woo hoo hoo."

Metamatician said...

Hey Hans and Coco, there's a whole Greek island full of wild cats. There are just a small number of people living on the island but hundreds, maybe thousands of cats. What do you think of that?

Seems like a pretty good reason to learn Greek to me!

Raelha said...

If only you'd asked me 20-odd years ago, I could've given you answers to it all. Now, however,´tis a different matter. Still, I likes a challenge:

Mercury - Apollo, messenger of the gods. Had a fancy chariot, and cows come to mind for some reason.

Venus - Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty. Daughter of Zeus.

Mars - for the life of me I can't remember this one, it's really annoying me. God of war.

Ceres - Demeter, goddess of fertility.

Titan - there were more than one of them, but I don't know who they were.

Neptune - Poseidon, god of the sea, has trident, etc.

Pluto - Hades, god of the Underworld

Charon - rowed the dead across the Styx for payment of a coin which was placed on their mouth, I think, when they died. His equivalent? No idea.

Jupiter - Zeus, top god, big boss, seducer of mortals and immortals alike.

Andromeda - I'm not sure, Persephone? Daughter of Demeter & Zeus, stolen away by Hades but eventually allowed to return for half the year, thus accounting for the seasons.

And that seems to be the current limit of my knowledge on this particular subject.

Metamatician said...

Nice going, and thanks, Rach! I'm not gonna score it quite yet, though. I think I can save myself some work by waiting till more are in (if more come in, of course), and then doing a key + comments all at once.

Hope you don't mind. You remembered a lot though, I can tell you that!

I also appreciate that no one cheats. I mean, it sounds ridiculous to even have to think about that, but the google search box is RIGHT THERE and it has to be tempting. I have way more respect for people that do so-so on their own merits than someone who does well in an attempt to impress but who has taken peeks online to "refresh their memory" or some lame excuse.

For example, you KNEW Mars's counterpart, but just couldn't recall it. And you wrote that. I appreciate the obvious honesty. I'm a sharp, sharp read of people who don't tell the truth, and it's nice never even having to worry about that with the friends I have on this blog.

I may have a small following, but it's the quality that counts!

billybytedoc said...

You gotta be kidding. It will be interesting to see the answers.

Raelha said...

I have a book here that used to be my mum's, (not sure when it was published, but it has a hand-written dedication in it from 1939, so it must have belonged to my nan before my mum had it, anyway it's old), called "Once Upon a Time" with stories of the Roman gods retold for children and illustrated with colour plates. I've loved it ever since I first set eyes on it, and read it over and over again when I was younger, comparing all the women in the pictures and deciding who was most beautiful. Then I read anything else about Greek/Roman mythology I could lay my little hands on. That's why I remember certain things so well. Although I haven't read anything on the subject for years, which is why the knowledge is patchy.

Raelha said...

Actually, I've just discovered this: http://openlibrary.org/books/OL24152477M/Once_upon_a_time

So you can see for yourself :D

Metamatician said...

Briliant, I've been perusing it online, bookmarked it, and - just in case - downloaded the PDF file! I love old books, especially from the early 20th century. They have a lot of charm, and many were sewn-bound rather than glued like many of today's shoddy tomes, as well as featured rugged pasteboards (covers) rather than paperboard, the paper was nice and thick, and they were often lavishly illustrated.

Even today's "Deluxe" editions don't compare. Check out old editions of the "Oz" books for example (or hundreds of others), and they make today's mass-market hardbound sets look like rubbish.

I also think books were far better written in most cases 100 years ago, or even 50. Not to mention edited 1000% better. Books were constructed to LAST, not to be read and discarded or given away. The encyclopedias of those days are further examples of high-quality bookmaking. In the days before the Net and mass-information, what information was available was truly cherished, and it's obvious from studying the books of the time.

Makes me a sad to think that we live in an era when more knowledge by far is available to the average person than at any point in history, and yet that reality has somehow devalued it, and people not only don't actually know any more (because they can look it just look it up), but their appreciation of "knowledge as art" or at least as something to be treasured has been lost, for the most part.

There are still some of us, of course, who do treasure it. And who appreciate a well-built, hefty, dusty tome in the hand over any Wikipedia entry, no matter how convenient and useful the latter may admittedly be!

Metamatician said...

My mom also loves books (as does Byte, Jovian, and many others I know), especially old children's books from her parent's youth... so around the same time your book came from. You should ask her some day about the subject. She has some neat ones.

An Gabhar Ban said...

Boy! don't read your blog for a week and I miss out on all sorts of stuff!! *hangs head in shame*

I'm with Raelha on this one... I used to be a lot better at this and no I didn't peek at her answers. I'm almost afraid to try. I shall contemplate my answers over a bowl of brain enhancing oatmeal and get you a response. soon. I think. :P

Mandula said...

1. Mercury (Mercurius) - Hermes, messenger of the gods, in his winged slippers he is the second fastest thing in the world after Zeus' lightning.
2. Venus - Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, selfish little b*tch. Her son is Eros (Amor), with the bow.
3. Mars - Ares, god of war
4. Ceres (the biggest asteroid in the asteroid belt and briefly considered a new planet)- Demeter, goddess of the Earth (not the earth herself, that is Gaia), how to say, you know, when the grain is growing from the soil, growth, crop, harvesting...
5a. Jupiter - Zeus, the new main god, first of the olymposian twelve, god of lightnings
5b through 5e: Jupiter's four large moons: b. Ganymede (dont remember), c. Europ (One of Zeus' passions,he chased her with his love, escaped from Hera's anger, Zeus turned her into a white cow, but became dinner, on the land that after this, named after her) a, d. Callisto (daughter of... ehh, dont remember), e. Io (Blind Io, greater god of the Discworld)
7a. Saturn - Cronos, former main god, titan, father of Zeus
7b. Saturn's single large moon, Titan (hint: this is a bit of a trick question)- titans are the second nation of the gods, sons of Gaia and Uranos (their sisters are the titanisses, or how do you say it in english).
8a. Uranus (no jokes, please)- Uranos, titan, grandfather of Zeus (through Kronos), god of sky or something
8b. Uranus's single large moon, Hemorrhoid. Wait! I meant Triton- lesser god of the sea, his weapon was named after him, that three-spiked stuff. Trident? Ohh, and father of Arielle, the little mermaid.
9. Neptune - Poseidon, god of the sea
10a. In the spirit of magnanimity, I'll include the demoted "dwarf planet" Pluto here - Hades, god of the dead, and the lower world. Brother of Zeus and the other olymposians.
10b. Pluto's "moon" - more accurately the smaller member of its double-body system, Charon - the ferryman of the lower world, the bring the dead through the Styx to Hades' realm. The dead heve to pay him for this, which is completely understandable, I wouldn't do this job for a million dollars. Maybe five. Per month.

I knew all of them, ages back, in hihgh school... I have to practice again. :)

Metamatician said...

WOW! I think Mandula's got this one, everybody.

Great job, Mandi - the mythical trophy is yours. Since it's imaginary, we'll pretend it's 3 meters tall and made of solid gold :)

You even knew some details I didn't know! Not a perfect score because a few of the moons and such you were unsure of, but close enough to perfect that I'm going to make you the winner right now, so we can move on to future quizzes!

Thanks for playing, and again, really good job. You know your mythology really well, I'm impressed :o)

Mandula said...

Thankie! :)))

Uhh, I'd need some help with this golden trophy... :D

Metamatician said...

I'll have it delivered by FedEx, don't worry. :)

Nevir said...
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Nevir said...
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Nevir said...
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Nevir said...

I came across you blog for some wild reason and i happen to be greek so i will write for you the greek name (i mean in greek...) of what you asked, cause it seems you really like greek. so...
1. Mercury (Mercurius) - Hermes (Ερμής in greek), messenger of the gods, in his winged slippers he is the second fastest thing in the world after Zeus' lightning. (and he has nothing to do with cows as another one told before hoh)
2. Venus - Aphrodite (Αφροδίτη), goddess of love and beauty, selfish little b*tch. Her son is Eros (Amor) (Έρωτας), with the bow -> true, she had an affair with Mars (Eros' father) while she was married to another god called Hephaestus (Ήφαιστος in greek)and is the god of fire and forge.
3. Mars - Ares (Άρης), god of war
4. Ceres (the biggest asteroid in the asteroid belt and briefly considered a new planet)- Demeter (Δήμητρα), goddess of the Earth and fertility too (not the earth herself, that is Gaia), how to say, you know, when the grain is growing from the soil, growth, crop, harvesting...
5a. Jupiter - Zeus (Δίας), the main god, first of the olymposian twelve, god of lightnings
5b through 5e: Jupiter's four large moons: b. Ganymede (Γανυμήδης) he was not a god, just a very beautiful prince that Zeus really envied him because of his appearance, so he transformed into an eaggle and took him to the mount Olympos and gave him immortality, c. Europ (Ευρώπη) (One of Zeus' passions,he chased her with his love, escaped from Hera's anger, Zeus turned her into a white cow, but became dinner, on the land that after this, named after her) a, d. Callisto (Καλλιστώ) she was a nymph, e. Io (Ιώ) she was a nymph too and a priestess of Hera but she was seduced by Zeus and he transformed into a cow again to escape detection.
7a. Saturn - Cronos (Κρόνος), one of the titans, father of Zeus and son of Uranus.
7b. Saturn's single large moon, Titan (Τιτάνας) titans are the "second nation" of the gods, sons of Gaia and Uranus.
8a. Uranus (Ουρανός) he was actually the "master god", the begining of everything.
8b. Uranus's single large moon, Triton (Τρίτωνας)- the messenger of the sea, son of Neptune.
9. Neptune - Poseidon (Ποσειδώνας), god of the sea
10a. In the spirit of magnanimity, I'll include the demoted "dwarf planet" Pluto here - Hades (Άδης), god of the dead, and the lower world. Brother of Zeus and the other olymposians.
10b. Pluto's "moon" - more accurately the smaller member of its double-body system, Charon (Χάρων) - the ferryman of the lower world, the bring the dead through the Styx to Hades' realm. The dead heve to pay him for this. actually in greek χάρος (the same as χάρων) mean death, meaning the black hooded figure that takes you to the other world.
11. Andromeda (Ανδρομέδα) - she was the daughter of a king called Kifeas. Neptune was really angry at Kifeas' family that he sent a beast from the sea to eat the whole city, unless Kifeas gave his daughter and sacrofice her. So he tied her up on a rock but then Perseas found her and married her.
ps: sorry about the mess i made, there was a problem :/

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