Mythological Dictionary
Letter: M


Dictionary of Mythological Definitions and Terms.
Mythological | M

 

Definition


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Maenad
A meanad is a female worshipper of Dionysus. See bacchanal.
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March
March or martial or martial law.
Mars was the Roman god of war, equated with the Greek Ares. He personified the conflict of battle in all its brutality and bloodshed. The adjective martial means of or pertaining to battle; when the military authority usurps the power of civil authority, the population is said to be under martial law. Also the name of the month March is derived from Mars.
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Matinee
Matinee or matins
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Mentor
In Book One of Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus' palace is ravaged by suitors for the hand of his wife, Penelope. His son Telemachus, day dreaming of his father's return, is incapable of action. Athena, in the guise of Odysseus' trusted counselor, Mentor, comes to Ithaca to rouse Telemachus and give him advice and hope. Thus mentor means a trusted guardian and teacher.
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Mercury
Mercury or mercurial.
Mercury was the Roman equivalent of the Greek Hermes (see Herm). This fleet-footed messenger of the gods has given us the word mercury, a silver metallic element, which at room temperature is in liquid form, also called "quicksilver" because of the nature of its movement. In astrology, Mercury is the name given to the planet closest to the sun, around which it completes one revolution in 88 days. In botany, it refers to a genus of weedy plant. To describe someone as mercurial is to impart to the individual craftiness, eloquence, cunning, and swiftness, all attributes of the god. It can also simply mean quick or changeable in temperament, either from the nature of the god or the influence of the planet.
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Midas ass s ears
Midas' ass's ears or Midas touch or the golden touch.
Apollo and Pan entered into a musical contest. When Apollo was judged victorious by the mountain-god Tmolus, Midas, the king of Phrygia, disagreed. For his lack of perception Apollo transformed Midas' offending ears into those of an ass. To have ass's ears means that one lacks true musical judgment and taste. On another occasion, the god Dionysus granted Midas' wish that whatever he might touch be turned into gold. To his despair, Midas found that even as he put food and drink to his mouth it was transmuted into gold. Dionysus granted him relief by telling him to bathe in the river Pactolus, whose bed become golden. To have the golden touch or Midas' touch means to be successful in any endeavor.
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Money
Money or monetary.
In the Temple of Juno Moneta ("money," "mint") was housed the Roman mint. The epithet Moneta means "the warner" and refers to an important legend regarding her temple. When Rome was threatened in 390 B.C. by an invasian of Gauls, the sacred geese in Juno's temple began to squawk, rousing the Romans to battle. Moneta, through the Old French moneie, has given us the word money; the adjective monetary, "pertaining to money," comes from the stem monet.
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Morphine
Morpheus was the god of dreams, or more particularly the shapes (morphai) that come to one in dreams. Later he became confused with the god of sleep and it is from this confusion that the meaning of morphine comes. Morphine, an addictive compound of the opium plant, is used as an anaesthetic or sedative. The compounds which include the stem morph-, such as metamorphosis (a transformation into another shape or state of being), are drawn from the Greek word morphe ("shape" or "form") and not the god Morpheus.
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Muse
Muse or music or museum or mosaic.
The nine muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne ("memory"), whose province was inspiration in the arts, particularly poetry and music; from muse we derive the word music. The Greek word mouseion ("place of the Muses"), in Latin museum, has given us museum, a place for the displaying works of artistic, historical, or scientific interest. From the adjective mousaicos ("pertaining to the Muses") comes mosaic, a picture or design made up of small colored tiles or stones.
Category: Mythological
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