1. SingToMeMuse
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    SingToMeMuse Member

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    S.O.B. Word choice question

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by SingToMeMuse, Jun 18, 2009.

    Okay, my book takes place in Ancient Greece so obviously I have to be selective of words my characters use, I can't have them saying "hey what's up dude?" for example [not that I would but you get the point]. Right now my character is verrrrrry unhappy with another and he needs a good insult, I have "son of a bitch" in place right now just to take up space, but I'm afraid that won't sound so authentic. Do you find "son of a bitch" a little too modern of a phrase for a novel taking place in B.C. times? Or do you think there's another insult that could work?
    Thanks :)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Insults tend to reflect the values of the time they originate from. Son of a bitch dates back to the same time period as son of a gun, or your mother wears Army boots. All three insults accuse the person's MOTHER of loose morals (a bitch is a dog who mates with anything when in heat, son of a gun is the designation for a child born of a woman on shipboard when the father is not identified, and your mother wears Army boots says she lies down with the soldiers.)

    Todays insults are a bit less imaginative, mostly centered around sex with oneself oe being on the receiving end of forceful sex.

    I'm not sure what the insults of Ancient Greece would center around; possibly around hubris, or foolish defiance of gods and fate?
     
  3. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    I'd say if you want something authentic, do some quick research on the Greek gods and formulate an insult of your own from that.

    If your character's insulting another man, maybe something like "Athena abandon thee on the battlefield!" or maybe if it's a girl "Aphrodite smite thee in jealous rage!"

    You know? Something like that would be a suitable way to have insults in ancient Greece.
     
  4. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Of course, and then you can't make it so unfamiliar and foreign sounding, or else it would sound kind of melodramatic. For example, "Let Zeus rain thunderbolts upon your city!" (bad example, but you get the idea - it sounds melodramatic).

    One suggestion I have is that you could look up Ancient Greek words, and put them in place of our modern-day insults. So, for example, instead of saying "You son of a bitch!" you could say "You are a Xenopharixajos!" It could then be implied from the text what the insult is. However, the problem with this is that if used too much or in the wrong places, it sounds pretty stupid.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Perhaps "You mate with goats" is closer to an equivalent to son of a bitch. The examples above are more thrown curses than insults; wishing bad fortune upon you rather than applying a derogatory label.
     
  6. SingToMeMuse
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    SingToMeMuse Member

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    Thanks guys, you're suggestions are great, but one character has attacked the others daughter (and won't live to tell about it) so he's a little more angry than 'you mate with goats' (though that's a great suggestion for a less intense time appropriate insult :p )
    Right now this is what I have in rough draft form and please forgive any cheesiness I have A LOT of polishing to do still. Right now I'm trying to get the story from my head to paper in the quickest way possible so that I have SOMETHING to work with:
    “Ares restrain yourself, what is the meaning of this madness?”
    The point of Ares sword hovered dangerously close to the mans face,
    “This son of a bitch, thinks as the son of Poseidon he can violate my daughter in my own temple!” his voice shook the walls [note: terrible description I know]. Aphrodite began to feel a strange sensation on her skin, it began to sting and burn; the air smelled hot with rage.

    It just doesn't sound right to me. Any other suggestions?
     
  7. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    "son of a harlot?"

    Racial and religious insults would have been common back then. Back in the day calling a christian man a jew or muslim would probably have generated some violence.

    In warfaring cultures calling a person a coward or a traitor is usually much worse than it would be now.

    Most insults seem to be centered around sex, religion (She's a witch!), and cultural values. (Cultures sensitive to racial prejudice like ours have "racist" as a serious black mark.)
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Incest has just about always been associated with mortal insults. The Oedipus story was about a repugnant fate. Motherf***er, although a twentieth century phrasing, is concepually timeless. You just need to phrase it in a way that fits better with the period.
     
  9. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Depending on which State your character is from, you could make an insult about that... Athenians were notoriously picked on for being pedophiles, for instance. Thespians were taunted for being homosexuals.

    Also, Greece was a place where there were free men and slaves. One's honor and heritage were important. If you were really peeved with someone, you'd insult his family name or father.
     
  10. lovely
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    While this may not be the exact type of thing you are going for, this link may give you some idea of the direction that you need to go:

    http://www.insults.net/html/classical/ancientgreece.html
     
  11. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Wow, I never knew that....that's so cool haha....I mean....y'know...
     
  12. SingToMeMuse
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    Seta, you're awesome! That is brilliant info! It defintely gives me something to head toward, thank you!
     
  13. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    It sounds, from your excerpt, that your characters are the actual Greek gods (really cool idea, actually. I'm reading a book atm that has them in a modern setting called "Gods Behaving Badly"). That makes using the gods names for insults harder, so I'd follow Seta and the other's advice. Although, I'd imagine that referring to any of the gods as "mortal" would've been an insult to them.
     
  14. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    The Greek gods, according to some theorists anyway, are purely psychological projections, divine embodiments of extreme human emotions - rage, jealousy, lust - don't think that just because they're gods, they're above petty name slinging and using their powers for selfish reasons....
     
  15. SingToMeMuse
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    Kirvee, thank you so much, I was so afraid it was just sounding cheesy. YES! I read Gods Behaving Badly a few months ago, how are you liking it? Isn't Apollo HILARIOUS? Though I've always loved Greek Mythology that book is what sent me on my quest to write about the Greek gods in thier natural habitat. My book is about the love affair between Ares and Aphrodite (I hope to do one for Eros and Psyche someday too)

    Aaron, I absolutely agree. I've extensively studied the characters as they stand in myth [this part I'm working on right here is one of Ares' actual myths, I've just beefed it up a bit]. I've definitely made the characters my own though and have given them as many flaws as normal people would have. They're more like humans then they'd like to admit ;)
     
  16. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    Yes, Apollo is hilarious, XD. I like Artemis though, she's cool. If there were ever to be a movie made for it I wonder if someone who looks like Prince Charming from Shrek would play Apollo, XD.

    @Aaron: Actually, the Greek gods were created as a way to explain the things that humans didn't yet know. All ancient gods in every culture were made for that purpose. The story of Demeter and Persephone was made because nobody knew why seasons changed back then, so they made gods and a myth to go with it. They needed an explination of why the sea had tides and waves, so they made Poseidon. That's how I've always looked at them, anyway.
     
  17. SingToMeMuse
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    Haha, I love it! Excellent comparison, Prince Charming from Shrek is SO Apollo. Artemis is one super cool character isn't she? I was never a huge fan of hers until I read that book but now she has quickly become a favorite of mine. Hehe I could talk endlessly about how hilarious that book is.
     
  18. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Yeah yeah that's the reason the Greeks had them, I meant contemporary Classical scholars have described the Gods as psychological projections, which is an opinion largely informed by Classical Literature, which often paints the Gods as all too human characters with many flaws and very human psychologies, as opposed to the christian god, for instance, who has no personality at all ... :|
     
  19. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    When my World Literature class was going over the Greek/Roman unit, I believe my teacher told us that although the gods had special powers and were immortal, they weren't meant to be the way the Christian God is portrayed. The Greek gods have human characteristics which helps to make their myths believable.

    @Sing: I'm not done reading it, lol. I'm only about half-way through the book. I'm reading about five books at once (I do that a lot).
     
  20. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    thats what I said XD i was saying theyre notttt like the christian concept of god
     
  21. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    Ah, I'm sorry! I misunderstood you. I should be in bed right now, it's 3:30AM, XD.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not 'religious' ones, in ancient greece...

    ancient greece refers to a period centuries before christ, judaism, or islam...

    the current all-purpose slam in greek is 'malaka'... it means something close to our term, 'jerk-off'... don't know if that came down through the ages, though, or is a newer addition to the language...
     

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