Thursday, July 23, 2015

Word from Mythology: Mentor

The word "mentor" is widely used in English now, but most people do not know that this is a name from Greek mythology: Mentor. Mentor was a friend of the Greek hero Odysseus, and he also advised Odysseus's son Telemachus. When the goddess Athena wanted to advise Telemachus, she disguised herself as Mentor.

The use of the word "mentor" in English to mean an "advisor" dates to the 18th century. Nowadays you can also hear the word "mentee," which is formed as if "mentor" were a Latin verb, but that is a bit of linguistic nonsense that does not fit the Greek origins of the word at all! The word "mentee" was coined in the 1960s. To fit the Greek, it would be better to talk about a "mentor" and a "telemachus," rather than mentor and mentee. :-)

You can read more about Greek Mentor at Wikipedia, which is also the source for this picture of Mentor with Telemachus:

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