Thursday, 6 June 2013

Bicephalous

Two-headed eagle, Flag, Heraldry, Polycephalous, Two heads,

BICEPHALOUS

Adjective. Early 19th century.
[From BI- Latin (earlier dui-, cognate with Greek DI-, Sanskrit dvi-) = twice, doubly, having two + Greek kephale head + -OUS.]

Two-headed.

Bicephalism, while common in mythology, religion and heraldry, is rare in nature and always the result of a congenital disorder. While bicephalous animals have a poor survival rate in comparison to monocephalous ones, there are examples that survive into adulthood and many museums around the word carry exhibits of preserved two-headed animals. Interestingly, the bicephalous eagle is a ubiquitous and truly ancient symbol with examples in Sumerian, Hittite and Babylonian cultures.

Related (but distinct) words are polycephaly (having more than one head) and diprosopus (having more than one face).

13 comments:

  1. I have a bicephalous coin which helps me win stupid arguments.

    - clueless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surely only stupid arguments with stupid people ... ?

      Delete
  2. But I thought that two heads were better than one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tell that to a bicephalous snake which (apparently) has a tendency to try and eat itself:

      "No, Simon! If we could just work together ..!"

      *Nom nom nom*

      Delete
  3. If you go to Greece, you'll see a yellow flag with a bicephalous eagle on it outside every other church.

    So, in my mind the bicephalous eagle is intertwined with the Chrisian Orthodox religion and as a result, it has negative connotations.

    Also, it's the symbol of two very popular football teams. (Again, negative connotations)

    I tried to read a religious blog to tell you what it symbolizes today, but I couldn't go through with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's funny, Evi, because I was looking to link to a reliable source regarding its significance but, without spending too much time on it, all I could find were Masonic sites. I couldn't bring myself to do it either.

      Delete
  4. My favourite bicephalous critter is the pushmi-pullyu (push-me-pull-you) of Dr. Doolittle fame! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. All I can think of is Mrs. Grales.

    Oh, and Rosey Grier.

    And Zaphod of course.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're a veritable compendium of obscurity to me, Nick, as I never know any of the references you make! Well ... Zaphod of course ... but I still had to remind myself by a quick Google (I've only read HGTTG once and I think I'm the only person on the planet that didn't like it).

      Delete
    2. I could understand not liking the sequels. In fact the first Hitchhiker's Guide is the only piece of Mr. Adams's work which I would really strongly recommend (other than a brief radio sketch about a kamikaze pilot who's been on several unsuccessful missions). So I find it a little strange that you didn't care for it. Of course in terms of narrative structure, it really is no OED.

      Mrs. Grales is a two-headed character from the novel A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. It's a brilliant, darkly comic examination of humanity's self-destructive nature.

      Rosey Grier is a former player of American football who co-starred in a movie called The Thing With Two Heads. I emphatically do not recommend watching it, as among its numerous flaws, it has a motorcycle race which seemingly goes on even longer and more pointlessly than the pod race in The Phantom Menace.

      Delete
  6. Didn't
    like
    it
    ?
    ?

    Why? I really, really want to know.

    How can you not like the most poignant and succinct comment on life in general? It alone, as far as I've researched, and I've admittedly only read 1 book, 300 times, points out that anyone who wants to govern should on no account be allowed to do so, and that the guy who claimed that truth was beauty and beauty was truth, turned out to be lying.

    -absolutely clueless

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In response to both Nick and Clueless ... I can't explain why I didn't like it - it was a long time ago so I can't be too specific ... but ... I didn't find it particularly funny, but rather it felt like it was *trying* to be funny which, as we all know, isn't funny.

      Delete