The weeks on either side of the winter solstice have a special place in Greek mythology. In the story of Alcyone, the daughter of Aeolus, she marries Ceyx, who arrogantly dares to compare their relationship to that of Zeus and Hera. Such hubris is never a good thing in Greek myth, and Zeus causes his death. But the gods eventually take pity on the mortal couple, changing them into birds known for their devotion to each other. Those birds, named after Alcyone, were said to nest on the surface of the sea during calm weather, giving rise to our term halcyon days. This is part of a complete episode.
- Hair on Your Tongue (episode #1517) 02/11/2019: If you speak both German and Spanish, you may find yourself reaching for a German word instead of a Spanish one, and vice versa. This... [more]
- Train of Thought (episode #1516) 02/04/2019: Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, such as the... [more]
- Colonial English (episode #1515) 01/28/2019: The anatomy of effective prose, and the poetry of anatomy. Ever wonder what it'd be like to audit a class taught by a famous writer?... [more]
- Space Cadet (episode #1514) 12/24/2018: We have books for language-lovers and recommendations for history buffs. • How did the word boondoggle come to denote a wasteful project? The answer involves... [more]
- Howling Fantods (episode #1513) 12/17/2018: Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing drug-laced dollar bills,... [more]