Thursday, 20 June 2013

Gordian Knot and Black Legs

Here are two more for today.

Cutting the Gordian knot – to solve a problem boldly and decisively.

Gordius, the king of Phrygia had tied an intricate knot which was difficult to undo. According to a Prophesy that was prevalent at that time, the one who undid the knot, would become the ruler of Asia. Alexander of Greece tried to undo it, and when he could not do it, cut it with his sword. Later, he became the conqueror of the world. Hence you have expressions such as, ‘Cutting the Gordian knot’ and 'Giving an ‘Alexandrian solution.’

When I think of Sri Rama’s breaking Shiva’s bow instead of bending it and stringing it, I tend to think he too had cut the Gordian knot. Only that, it was done many centuries before Alexander. Kambar praises his act with the words, 'எடுத்தது கண்டார் ; இற்றது கேட்டார்'.....

But did Sri Rama fulfill Janaka’s condition? It is rather too late to raise this issue. Still…..

Black Legs – those who act against the interests of a trade union, esp by refusing to join a strike

Those who stay away from a strike are called ‘black legs’ or கருங்காலிகள், (a literal translation of black legs). But why did such an expression come into being?

Many years ago, the coal miners went on a strike. A few of them did not join the strike and went to work. When they came back after work, their legs were black because of the coal. They were referred to as ‘Black legs’. Now the term means the ‘betrayer’.

Actually, கருங்காலி is a tree with a strong timber.

June 19

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