Hecatomb

With all those members of the Establishment currently falling on their swords in the Great British Phone-hacking Brouhaha - ten arrested so far, four major resignations so far, any number of sackings and a threat of a company, perhaps even a government, collapse - I am reminded of this wonderful Greek word for a mass sacrifice, hecatomb - a combination of the word for a hundred (hekaton) and oxen (bous). Originally it did indeed refer to the slaughter of cattle, but it is now extended

to the religious sacrifice of other nations; a large number of animals offered or set apart for sacrifice

It is said that Pythagoras, normally a placid and animal-loving sort of chap, offered up a hecatomb on discovering that the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle was equal in area to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. Whether the outing of Rebekah Brooks is an equally profound event we will not know for a while; but the consequences are beginning to sound rather similar.

Hypotenuse, in case you wondered, comes from the Greek for stretching under - since it is the long stretch opposite the right angle.

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  • Buckeyetexan

    I look forward to Winchester's words every week. It's one of my "favorite things."