The Nature of Words
With springtime zephyrs blowing from the south and with the patio north of the large oak tree, sweeping the patio free of oak pollen tassels is a Sisyphean task indeed. Current usage defines zephyr as a soft and gentle breeze from any direction, but originally Zephyr was the name of the west wind.
The Latin zephyrus was derived from Greek zephuros, the west wind; probably related to Greek zophos meaning darkness, west. And who are the other winds? Greek myths say that Astraeus, king of the winds, is the husband of Eos, goddess of the dawn; he is also father of the four winds: Boreas, the north wind; Zephyrus, the west; Eurus, the east, and Notus, the south. A boreal forest consists of trees accustomed to a colder clime, and the aurora borealis is visible only in northern regions.
A Sisyphean task is one that seems never-ending. For Sisyphus, king of what is now known as Corinth, a task that truly was never-ending was punishment meted out by Zeus for the king's avarice and deceitfulness, not to mention his hubris, thinking that he was as good as Zeus. His punishment was to roll a large boulder up a steep hill, only to have it roll down again every time.
Hubris is derived from the Greek hybris, meaning excessive pride or arrogance or ambition.
Wishing you time to lift your head from work and dance with the zephyrs of springtime, at least figuratively.
- Laurel Stoddard, CET