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Speak Like an Ancient Greek

The Antiquity has left us numerous gifts, including the famous personalities, magnificent statuary and paintings, breathtaking stories and a great number of idioms. Mostly, they come from myths and legends. If you want to be an intelligent person and speak nicely, you have to know and use these expressions. However, many people know the idioms themselves, but don`t know their meanings or how to insert them into speech. Here you can find the most famous of them, discover their historical roots and modern meanings.

Trojan Horse

Long ago, there was a war between the Trojan and the Achaean People. The reason was very simple: Trojan price Paris has stolen the most beautiful woman in the world Helena, who was a wife of the Sparta King Menelaus. The war was cruel and long, and no one could win. The Troy was very strong city and the warriors were brave.

Then, one of them, Odysseus proposed a tricky plan. The Achaean people have built a huge wooden horse as a present to the Goddess Athena and left it near the gates of Troy. Surely, they have made a look like they were leaving on their ships. Later, one wise Trojan man told that it was a trick and that the horse would make the Troy fall, but the Poseidon`s servants killed him and his family (The God of Seas also wanted the Troy to fall). Later the Trojan people took the horse to the city. At night, the Achaeans have escaped from the horse and killed the guards. That day was a day when the Troy disappeared.

Nowadays, this idiom means something insidious, deception maneuver. 

For example, «His present is a Trojan horse» what means that someone made someone a present to distract the attention or to hide something.

Achilles Heel

Achilles Image

Achilles was one of the Achaean warriors. He was very strong, brave and clever, but he had a secret. When he was born, his mother was told that he could live long and simple life or he would die as a hero. Surely, the goddess Thetis didn`t want her son ever to die, so she took him to the River Styx and lowered him there. However, during this magical ritual, Thetis was holding her son by the heel, which has become the most vulnerable place on Achilles body, which itself was impregnable to any kind of weapon or hit. Nevertheless, an ancient Greek could not change his destiny. Later Achilles joined the Achaean army in the war with the Troy. In one of the battles, the God Apollo helped Paris to run the arrow right to the Achilles Heel. The wound was tiny but deadly.

If you tell someone about one`s Achilles heel, you mean a vulnerable weak place.

For example, «Mathematics is my Achilles Heel», in other words, that you are not very strong on this subject.

Ariadne`s Thread

Ariadne was a daughter of Minos who was a King of Crete. He was very cruel and ruthless. Minos has a labyrinth in his kingdom, where an awful creature Minotaur lived. Every single year, the people of the Athens to sacrifice seven men and girls so the awful creature could eat them. One day a famous hero Theseus decided to save the poor young people and to kill the Minotaur. There was the only problem- the labyrinth itself. Ariadne fell in love with brave Theseus and helped him. She gave him a thread so he could find a way out from there. 

Now it means hope, a way to salvation.

For example, «Your help as like Ariadne`s thread to me. I had no chances to pass that exam, but now I`m ready».

Torment of Tantalus

The Kingdom of Hades

Tantalus was a son of Greek God Zeus. That`s why he could attend all the feast taken place on Olympus Mountain. Then something happened and he was condemned to the eternal torment in Hell, the Kingdom of Hades.

There are several versions why Tantalus was cursed. The first one tells that he became very high-minded and quarreled with the Gods. The next one states that he had stolen the magic God food to treat his human friends or that he had revealed some God`s secrets to the ordinary folks.

The most frightening story is that he had killed his own son and wanted the other Gods to eat him, that why he was punished. Till the rest of his life, he had to rest in the Kingdom of Hades hungry and thirsty. He stood at the river but could not drink; he saw the beautiful tasty fruits but could not eat them.

People use this idiom to tell that they suffer from something badly and can`t escape.

For example, «This illness is like a Torment of Tantalus».

In the Arms of Morpheus


Morpheus was a son of Greek God of Sleep Hypnos. He was called a God of dreams. When he touched someone with his hands, a person fell asleep and saw beautiful colorful dreams.

Nowadays this expression is used to tell that someone sleeps nice and pleasantly.

For example «I was somewhere in the arms of Morpheus» means that he or she slept very well and saw the beautiful dreams.

To Ride the Pegasus

Pegasus is a magic horse with the wings. Long ago he lived with the Olympic Gods and brought thunder and lightning to Zeus. Once the seven muses were singing so beautifully, that all the animals were listening to it attentively and the mountain Helicon began to grow. It was growing so fast that it reached the sky. The Pegasus hit a hoof, and there appeared a magical wellspring. Every person who drank the water there became a poet. Pegasus is also the favorite creature of muses.

To ride the Pegasus means to become a poet.

For example, «Yesterday I rode the Pegasus» can show that someone has written a poem that day.

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