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#52070 - 01/06/02 10:45 PM nepenthe
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
Just an interesting new word with an intriguing meaning that I encountered recently. I got this off of Merriam-Webster, interestingly Cambridge had no listing for it! I wonder, tsuwm, if you can get an OED on this, it might have a more in-depth etymology. It comes form the ancient Greeks, so Dr. Bill should have a special interest in this one.

Main Entry: ne·pen·the
Pronunciation: n&-'pen(t)-thE
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin nepenthes, from Greek nEpenthes, neuter of
nEpenthEs banishing pain and sorrow, from nE- not + penthos grief,
sorrow; akin to Greek pathos suffering -- more at NO, PATHOS
Date: 1580
1 : a potion used by the ancients to induce forgetfulness of pain or
2 : something capable of causing oblivion of grief or suffering
- ne·pen·the·an /-thE-&n/ adjective

#52071 - 01/07/02 01:08 AM Re: nepenthe
tsuwm Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10538
Loc: this too shall pass
try looking up nepenthes too!

[Alteration of nepenthes.]
[nepenthes] 1. A drug of Egyptian origin mentioned in the Odyssey as capable of banishing grief or trouble from the mind; hence, any drug or potion having, or conceived as having, the same power; also, occas. the plant or herb supposed to yield the drug.

and here, especially for dr. bill, is quinion:

#52072 - 01/07/02 01:56 AM Re: nepenthe
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
from the link
The word - commonly found as nepenthe, lacking its final letter - is
otherwise solely poetic or literary. One of its better-known appearances is
in Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven: "Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe
and forget this lost Lenore! / Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore.'"

Amazing...I must've read that poem scores of times, and the word never grabbed me until now. I guess I took it to be another potent liquer, like absinthe, and let it go at that. The context of the poem never caused me to delve further into the meaning or etymology...hmmm.

#52073 - 01/07/02 11:56 AM Re: nepenthe
wwh Offline
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Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear tsuwm: I was unaware that Sax Rohmer anticipated Timothy Leary:
The Yellow Claw by Sax Rohmer: "I do not employ opium as an aid to my social activities; I regard it as nepenthe from them and as a key to a brighter realm".

#52074 - 01/07/02 02:25 PM Re: nepenthe
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Other forms of the word nepenthe?

I make here a strange connection to anhedonia (not a form of nepenthe, of course, but related in sense tangentially)...that state of consciousness in which we are incapable of feeling joy.

It seems there is a gap between the anhedonic (n. person, if that's a word) and the nepenthiac (n. person, if that's a word)--one feeling joy no more, and the other, no pain--but a gap between the two people--they're still in different places, though alike.



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