A laconic post

John Rentoul

220px Filip II Macedonia 208x300 A laconic postOne word for my Top 10 Unexpected Etymologies, in the Independent on Sunday magazine, forthcoming, did not make the selection because the explanation is too long. But it is so good it is worth a blog post of its own.

Chris Sladen alerted me to the origin of the word “laconic”. It refers to the characteristic humour of the Greek region of Laconia, the capital of which was Sparta. The best example of which was when Philip of Macedon (picture) laid siege to Laconia, as recounted by Plutarch:

When Philip wrote thus to the Spartans: “If once I enter into your territories, I will destroy ye all, never to rise again;” they answered him with the single word, “If.”

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  • Ciaron Goggins

    Laconic would be the scene that was never filmed for “Spartacus”. On the eve of his final battle against Crassus, the slave army gave Spartacus the most magnificent horse ever seen. Spartacus took his sword and killed the horse. The slaves shouted and asked why. “If we win tomorrow we can have any horse in the Roman Empire – if we lose we shall have no need of horses”.

  • greggf


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