Mythman's Greek Mythology Today



by Boris Vallejo


  Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty, who sprang from the foam of the sea at Cyprus. She was married to the lame and homely god Hephaestus, but that didn't prevent the goddess of love from having numerous illicit affairs. She gave her name to:

And as Venus, her Latin name:
Venereal diseases

  Arachne was a mortal maiden highly gifted in the art of weaving, which was the Olympian goddess Athena's domain. Arachne got so full of herself she vainly compared herself to Athena, and challenged her to a weaving contest. When she lost, Athena transformed her into the first spider. From Arachne we get:

Arachnophobia - "arachne" (spider) and "phobos" (fear)
"Arachno-" is also part of the term "arachnodactyly" which refers to long spider-like fingers and toes, a frequent finding in Marfan syndrome, a heritable disorder of connective tissue.

Aeolus was the god of winds in Greek mythology. In Homer's epic poem 'The Odyssey, the hero Odysseus visits the land of Aeolia, where Aeolus gives him an "askos", a Greek word that means bag. This bag contains the west winds, which help Odysseus in his voyage.

The origin of the clinical sign ascites is from the Greek noun 'askos', which means bag. The ancient Greeks knew of the condition we now know to be ascites, calling it ascitēs (the baggy disease), according to the 'baggy' feature of the abdomen formed from increased fluid in the peritoneum.

Atlas was a mighty Titan who fought against Zeus and the Olympians when young Zeus was trying to consolidate his rule over the universe. After their defeat, the Titans were punished in various ways. Atlas was sentenced to bear the weight of the heavens and the celestial globe upon his back for eternity. In medicine we have:

Atlas, the name of the first vertebrae, but also the name of the Titan who was condemned to bear the weight of the heavens, separating it from the earth, a comparison to the function of the Atlas vertebrae, which has to bear the weight of the skull.

Echo was a very attractive young nymph who never stopped talking. One day she deceived the goddess Hera, who then passed a sentence upon her not to be able to speak but only to reply by repeating the last words of the person talking to her. When Echo fell in love with Narcissus she was unable to express her feelings and she could only repeat his last words – he rejected her love and she pined away in grief. Echo gave her name to:

 echolalia (almost automatic repetition of words or phrases heard)
 echopraxia (involuntary mimicking of another's movements)

In one of the greatest tragedies in Greek mythology, Electra persuaded her brother Orestes to murder their mother and her lover called Aegisthus, who were responsible for the killing of their father Agamemnon, whom she loved.

The Electra Complex refers to the erotic attachment of a daughter to her father.

Medical Allusions continues on page two!


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