Category Archives: Allusions

Allusions are colorful references that add richness and vitality to our language. Do you know what the Iron Triangle is? The third rail? Thin red line? Read on . . .

big bad wolf

big bad wolf
big bad wolf

A villain or other threat. The allusion is to the traditional story of The Three Little
Pigs, who are menaced one after another in their
respective homes of straw, twigs, and bricks by the
Big Bad Wolf, who seeks to blow the houses down and eat their owners. The tag is often applied to men who have the reputation of being sexual predators.
“I do get a bit tired of being the permanent Big
Bad Wolf ” (Diane Pearson, Voices of Summer, 1993).


SCYLLA (Skulla) and Charybdis

SKYLLA Museum Collection: Musée du Louvre, Paris, France Catalogue Number: TBA Beazley Archive Number: N/A Ware: (Lucanian?) Red Figure Shape: Krater Painter: -- Date: ca 450 - 425 BC Period: Classical
Museum Collection: Musée du Louvre, Paris, France
Catalogue Number: TBA
Beazley Archive Number: N/A
Ware: (Lucanian?) Red Figure
Shape: Krater
Painter: —
Date: ca 450 – 425 BC
Period: Classical

the names of two rocks between Italy and Sicily, and only a short distance from one another. In the midst of the one of these rocks which was nearest to Italy, there dwelt, according to Homer, Scylla, a daughter of Crataeis, a fearful monster, barking like a dog, with twelve feet, six long necks and mouths, each of which contained three rows of sharp teeth. The opposite rock, which was much lower, contained an immense fig-tree, under which there dwelt Charybdis, who thrice every day swallowed down the waters of the sea, and thrice threw them up again : both were formidable to the ships which had to pass between them (Hom. Od.xii. 73, &c., 235, &c.). Later traditions represent Scylla as a daughter of Phorcys or Phorbas, by Hecate Crataeis (Apollon. Rhod. iv. 828, &c., with the Scholiast), or by Lamia; while others make her a daughter of Triton, or Poseidon and Crataeis ( Hom. p. 1714), or of Typhon and Echidna (Hygin. Fab. praef.). Some, again, describe her as a monster with six heads of different animals, or with only three heads (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 650 ; Eustath. l. c.).  Continue reading SCYLLA (Skulla) and Charybdis



A gourmand. The name  belonged to three celebrated Roman epicures, the most
famous of whom was Marcus Gavius Apicius, who lived in the first century a.d. and was the author of a book of recipes known as Of Culinary Matters.
When he was faced through financial difficulty with having to restrict himself to a plain diet, he killed himself rather than  suffer such privation.

This Apicius dedicated his life to seeking out new taste
sensations in the restaurants and hotels of Manhattan.

See Cooking and Dining in Imperial Rome – Project Gutenberg


Atalanta’s race

Atalanta’s race - Three golden apples
Atalanta’s race – Three golden apples

Atalanta’s race: A contest that is won
through trickery. The allusion is to Greek mythology
and the race that was run between the fl eetfooted
huntress Atalanta and her suitor
Hippomenes (sometimes identifi ed as Melanion).
If Hippomenes won the race, according to the
agreement, Atalanta would become his wife, but if
he lost he would be put to death, like all her previous
suitors. Before the race, Aphrodite gave Hippomenes
the three golden apples of the Hesperides,
which Hippomenes dropped along the route so
that Atalanta would pause to pick them up. By this
ruse Hippomenes won the race, and they were
married. “Laurie reached the goal fi rst and was
quite satisfi ed with the success of his treatment,
for his Atalanta came panting up with fl ying hair,
bright eyes, ruddy cheeks, and no signs of dissatisfaction
in her face” (Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, 1868–69).


apocryphal – to hide away

1. (of a story or statement) of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true.
“an apocryphal story about a former president”
synonyms: fictitious, made-up, untrue, fabricated, false, spurious.

Of dubious authenticity or authorship; sham.The word refers to the Apoc- rypha, the books appended to the Old Testament but not forming part of the Hebrew canon and not included in the Protestant Bible. It comes from the Greek apokryptein (meaning “to hide away”). The story that it was here that the conquistadores held their first mass is probably apocryphal.The apocryphal books are also know as the deuterocanonical (second- arily canonical) books. Continue reading apocryphal – to hide away