Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Topic Options
#114620 - 10/27/03 02:01 PM Don't Kill Me, I'm only the Messenger!
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
looking for some information about buttons, i stumbled across this comment..
(clothing fasteners)...were large, dagger like pins. These pins were very popular in Athens, Greece until their outlawing in about 570 BC due to hundreds of angered Athenian women using their pins as real daggers to kill one Athenian soldier who bore bad news of all their men being slaughtered in war.

I've know the expression Don't kill the messenger--and the varient i used as topic heading, and now i am wondering, does the expression trace its way back to this incident? (even it is a modern expression, and brought to use via those scholars who know their history!) and what was the battle/ war that the messenger was reporting on.. (my own knowledge of exactly what was happening in 570BCE being a bit sketchy)

my other obsession

#114621 - 10/27/03 04:18 PM Re: Don't Kill Me, I'm only the Messenger!
Capfka Offline

Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 1624
Loc: Utter Placebo, Planet Reebok
It may be the case, Helen, but killing messengers who bore bad tidings was something of a classical sport ...

#114622 - 10/27/03 04:21 PM Re: Don't Kill Me, I'm only the Messenger!
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
According to Graves, messengers had special protection from the gods. Killing one could get you in a world of doo-doo.

#114623 - 10/27/03 05:22 PM Re: Don't Kill Me, I'm only the Messenger!
belMarduk Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/28/00
Posts: 2891
I don't think that it originated there oT.

I'f we're to believe any documentary or movie we see, being a messenger was a hazardous, short-lived career choice.

Every time they bring a message, the recipient usually sends the messanger back, tied to his horse and, more importantly, headless. To get the message across that the recipient does not accept the sender's suggestion, of course.

#114624 - 10/27/03 08:56 PM Re: Don't Kill Me, I'm only the Messenger!
Father Steve Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/06/00
Posts: 2788
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
"None love the messenger who brings bad news."

~ Sophocles, Antigone.

#114625 - 10/27/03 11:58 PM Re: Don't Kill Me, I'm only the Messenger!
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
Here is Herodotus' account of the incident you mention Helen:

LXXXVII. This, then, is the story told by the Argives and Aeginetans, and the Athenians too acknowledge that only one man of their number returned safely to Attica. [2] The Argives, however, say that he escaped after they had destroyed the rest of the Athenian force, while the Athenians claim that the whole thing was to be attributed to divine power. This one man did not survive but perished in the following manner. It would seem that he made his way to Athens and told of the mishap. When the wives of the men who had gone to attack Aegina heard this, they were very angry that he alone should be safe. They gathered round him and stabbed him with the brooch-pins of their garments, each asking him where her husband was. [3] This is how this man met his end, and the Athenians found the action of their women to be more dreadful than their own misfortune. They could find, it is said, no other way to punish the women than changing their dress to the Ionian fashion. Until then the Athenian women had worn Dorian dress, which is very like the Corinthian. It was changed, therefore, to the linen tunic, so that they might have no brooch-pins to use.

LXXXVIII. The truth of the matter, however, is that this form of dress is not in its origin Ionian, but Carian, for in ancient times all women in Greece wore the costume now known as Dorian. [2] As for the Argives and Aeginetans, this was the reason of their passing a law in both their countries that brooch-pins should be made half as long as they used to be and that brooches should be the principal things offered by women in the shrines of these two goddesses. Furthermore, nothing else Attic should be brought to the temple, not even pottery, and from that time on only drinking vessels made in the country should be used.

LXXXIX. Ever since that day even to my time the women of Argos and Aegina wore brooch-pins longer than before, by reason of the feud with the Athenians.

For details of the war that led up to this read the section just before this in book 5 of Herodotus' history: http://makeashorterlink.com/?K25462B56

For a site on Greek clothing, which refers to this incident, see: http://www.annaswebart.com/culture/costhistory/ancient/index.html


#114626 - 10/28/03 04:26 AM Re: Don't Kill Me, I'm only the Messenger!
AndrewsGhost Offline

Registered: 10/14/03
Posts: 43
Loc: Alaska
*starts looking into courier positions*

#114627 - 10/28/03 07:11 AM Re: Don't Kill Me, I'm only the Messenger!
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
oh, My Dear Mr Bingley, thank you!
i've been doing some writing (real writing, where i sit down, and edit, and spell check and cross all my t's and dot all my eyes, and submitting it (90% has been knitting, and trust me, if i get accepted and published, you guys will be among the first to know!

right now, i am working on an article about 'fasteners'-those humble little things that keep clothing on-- zippers are rather easy, (one of the new fasteners) snaps, are pretty new too, hooks and eyes are older, belt buckles too but buttons.. buttons are old. Not used by common folk till after the industrial revolution, but used by the ancient romans! (allegedly!--from inference drawn from pictures, mosaics, statuary)-- there is lots of stuff on broaches (which continued to be used to fasten clothes right up to 1920's or so-- illustrations of immigrants coming to US still show women wearing shawls/capes/cloaks secured with broaches. (i have cloak/cape that is secured with a broach-- one of my gt. grandmother's-the broach that is!)--

smaller broaches don't work as well, they stress the fabric, lead to tears.. and eventually the 'tears' create holes,....holes get sewn/bound.
(since once torn, fabric will easily tear along a thread line)--and eventually someone figures out, a broach that has lost its pin, or has a broken pin, can be bound to one edge, and the 'hole' can be sews/bound so it doesn't tear, but is looped over the broach--and voila--Buttons!
--so its nice to have a bit of trivia, showing why broaches might have been made smaller.

my other obsession

#114628 - 10/30/03 08:38 PM Re: Don't Kill Me, I'm only the Messenger!
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
the 'hole' can be sews/bound so it doesn't tear, but is looped over the broach--and voila--Buttons! Well now, Helen, that IS interesting--thank you.

#114629 - 10/30/03 08:43 PM Re: Don't Kill Me, I'm only the Messenger!
Zed Offline

Registered: 08/27/02
Posts: 2154
Loc: British Columbia, Canada
and voila--Buttons
One of those things that is so common we don't think about it but fascinating when we do. Thanks Helen


Moderator:  Jackie 
Forum Stats
8964 Members
16 Forums
13869 Topics
222494 Posts

Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members
thedesertsimmom, LostAuthor, Joe_Lee, David_Lee, soulsurvivor
8965 Registered Users
Who's Online
0 registered (), 51 Guests and 5 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
wofahulicodoc 47
LukeJavan8 32
may2point0 26
delirium 4
DavidLaurence 1
Curtis 1
Top Posters
wwh 13858
Faldage 13803
Jackie 11613
tsuwm 10538
LukeJavan8 8530
Buffalo Shrdlu 7210
wofahulicodoc 6929
AnnaStrophic 6511
Wordwind 6296
of troy 5400

Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 1994-2016 Wordsmith