Sisyphean work: the meaning and origin of the ancient idiom

What is our native Russian language? It can not be seen, it can not be touched. As if there is no him. Fortunately, he was, is and will be. He is the thread that unites contemporaries and connects hundreds of generations. It is that thread, invisible, but strong, which can stretch or become tangled, but will never break. This is our common tool, designed to take shape in our experiences, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Among his many techniques it is impossible not to mention phraseological units. What is it? Let's see ...

Sisyphean toil

The value of the idiom "Sisyphus work"

In any language, and Russian is no exception, there are so-called phraseological units. “What is it and what are they eating?” - you ask. The name is tricky, but nothing complicated, on the contrary - it is interesting and fascinating. Phraseological units, or phraseological units, are ready-made combinations of words, stable expressions,such as “beating the baklushi” or “throwing beads in front of pigs”, which not only help the speaker to accurately and vividly express his thoughts, emotions and attitude to what is happening, but are also a true decoration of the language. Their distinguishing feature is ambiguity, that is, their direct meaning is miraculously transformed into an allegorical, often the opposite of a literal reading.

Interesting from this point of view is the importance of such a stable combination, as "labor of Sisyphus". Literally - the mention of the cunning and quirky ruler of Corinth, Sisyphus, who after death, according to ancient Greek myths, was sentenced by the gods forever to roll heavy stone on a high mountain. However, the figurative meaning of the phraseologic "Sisyphean labor" sounds different - exhausting and useless work, fruitless efforts, a waste of time and effort.

Origins of verbal formulas

Everything in the world has its origins, its beginning and its own history. Every sound, every letter, every word. We can know about it, guess, or, conversely, have no idea. However, you see, it is better to know than not to know.And not only because it is necessary, and this will benefit you, broaden your horizons, and everyone around you will consider you an intellectual. No, not at all for this. And because all knowledge and the search for truth, the search for what stands, what is hidden behind each spoken sound, gives a deeper knowledge, understanding of the structure of the world and in the final analysis itself. In linguistics, the science of language, there is a special direction - phraseology, one of the tasks of which is precisely the study of the sources of these or other figurative expressions. Proceeding from this, all phraseological units of the Russian language are divided into native Russian and borrowed.

Sisyphean work phraseologism

Borrowed Phrases

In Russian, a large group of turns consists of so-called borrowed phraseological units, that is, those that come to us from other languages ​​and cultures. These include phraseological or tracing paper, or expressions that have received a literal translation when moving from one language to another and without losing their figurative meaning: “blue stocking” - bluestocking (English), “good” the game ”- faire bonne mine au mauvais jeu (French),“ hand washes the hand ”- Manus manum lavat (Latin), etc.A special class is made up of aphorisms from biblical evangelical texts, vivid quotes from foreign literature, as well as winged expressions from Roman and ancient Greek mythology. The last phraseological unit belongs to the latter.

“Sisyphean Labor”: Meaning and Origin

Sisyphus - in ancient Greek mythology, the ruler of Corinth, the son of God - the lord of all winds Aeol. Legend has it that Sisyphus was, on the one hand, a wise and prudent man, and on the other, a cunning, dexterous, quirky and sly, for which he was subsequently punished. The gods endured for a long time and forgave him his atrocities, by deceiving the obtained treasures, robbery. However, there is an end to everything, and once the death god Tanat came to Sisyphus to convey the king to the dark underworld of Hades, where the souls of all the dead dwell. Sisyphus could not accept the procedure instituted by Zeus and broke it by chaining Tanata into chains.

Sisyphean toil value

Time stopped on earth, people stopped dying, no offerings to the gods of the kingdom of shadows were made, the original harmony was broken. Then Zeus-Thunderblade sent the fearless god of war, Ares, who freed Tanat and sent the soul of Sisyphus under the earth into the realm of Hades.But here, Sisyphus did not deny himself, from his earthly passions, did not submit to the will of the gods. He asked his wife not to perform burial rites after his death and not to present gifts and sacrifices to the gods. My wife's wife obeyed and fulfilled his request. Hades was outraged and sent Sisyphus to the earth to enlighten his wife. The ruler of Corinth gladly went home and stayed in his luxurious palace, arranging endless feasts and showing off his tricks.

Once again, Tanat went for the soul of Sisyphus. This time he blew out the soul of a rebellious man and sent him forever underground. For the willfulness and obstinacy, the gods appointed Sisyphus a heavy punishment - from time to time to roll an unaffordable stone onto a high steep mountain. But not desperate efforts were terrible, but their fruitlessness. As soon as the smartest of all mortals reached the very top, the stone inevitably fell out of his hands and rolled down with a noise. And Sisyphus is taken to work again. After millennia, the name of the king of Sisyphus and his hard work, raising a stone to the top of the mountain, lose their direct meaning and in the aggregate acquire a different, figurative, which, in fact, stems from the attitude to the events described in the myth and from the feelings and emotions experienced during the reading .It turns out that in the Russian language “Sisyphean toil” is a phraseological unit, the secondary meaning of which is vain efforts, senseless labor, eternal torment.

Sisyphean labor

Other languages

As a rule, the ancient winged expressions are international turns. Sisyphean Labor is fruitless labor — no exception. This phraseological unit has its counterparts in the English language - Sisyphean laboratories, in French - le rocher de Sisyphe, in Greek - Σισύφειο έργο, and in many others. It is interesting to note that in these languages ​​it preserves the image of the rebellious king Sisyphus, on the basis of which the figurative expression arose, which means that its meaning and lexical and grammatical structure are fully preserved. Sisyphean labor in all languages ​​and cultures is a hopeless enterprise, a waste of time, a vain occupation.

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