Thursday, 13 June 2019

x marks the spot

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we are treated to a rather endearing review of how educational literature, abecedaries broached the subject of that little-used as a leading letter X before the discovery of x-rays or the introduction of xylophones, mostly ingratiating readers in the personages of the Persian King Xerxes the Great (𐎧𐏁𐎹𐎠𐎼𐏁𐎠, Ξέρξης) or Xanthippe (Ξανθίππη, meaning Yellow Horse)—Socrates’ supposed scold of a wife—or Xanthus (Ξάνθος, a blond stallion), one of Achilles pair of immortal horses whom Hera temporarily granted the power of speech in order to defend himself when Achilles accused him causing Patroclus’ death on the battlefield, retorting that it was a god that had killed Patroclus and that Achilles would soon follow. There’s numerous examples—some lazier than others—and nonetheless an interesting look at the antepenultimate letter and nineteenth century print.