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Jun 18, 2019
This week’s theme
People with multiple eponyms coined after them

This week’s words
Socratic irony
Midas-eared

midas-eared
The Judgment of Midas, 1870
Art: Émile Lévy

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Midas-eared

PRONUNCIATION:
(MY-duhs eerd)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Having poor judgment.
2. Having inability to appreciate something.

ETYMOLOGY:
After the legendary King Midas (of Midas touch fame) whose ears Apollo turned into a donkey’s ears for suggesting that Apollo’s musical rival Marsyas played better music. Earliest documented use: 1569.

NOTES:
The god Apollo and the satyr Marsyas had a musical contest (in another version of the story it was the god Pan instead of Marsyas). The mountain-god Tmolus served as the judge and declared Apollo the winner. King Midas, in his kibitzing wisdom, favored Marsyas as the winner. This upset Apollo who said that Midas’s musical judgment implied that he had donkey’s ears and made his ears those of a donkey’s. (Not to be confused with donkey’s years.)

Then, Apollo had his musical opponent Marsyas skinned alive. (Not that serene, was he, as his reputation in the eponym Apollonian suggests?) Now you know why back then they didn’t have Greece’s Got Talent on Mount Olympus. Who would be foolish enough to sign up as a judge (Simon Cowell wasn’t born yet) and who would dare to be a contestant?

USAGE:
“The root cause of Triton’s financial dilemma can be traced directly to their Midas-eared actions.”
William J. Dunne; Letters; News Journal (Chicago, Illinois); Nov 24, 1976.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The ability of so many people to live comfortably with the idea of capital punishment is perhaps a clue to how so many Europeans were able to live with the idea of the Holocaust: Once you accept the notion that the state has the right to kill someone and the right to define what is a capital crime, aren't you halfway there? -Roger Ebert, film-critic (18 Jun 1942-2013)

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