Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 23, 2016 is:
exodus \EK-suh-dus\ noun
1 : (capitalized) the mainly narrative second book of canonical Jewish and Christian Scripture
2 : a mass departure : emigration
When the concert ended, the exodus of attendees clogged up traffic for miles.
"The path of corporate exodus from New York City to New Jersey is well-worn, but real estate brokers and others say that the pace has quickened recently." — Kathleen Lynn, The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey), 28 Feb. 2016
Did you know?
The Biblical book of Exodus describes the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, so it's no surprise that the word has come to refer more generally to any mass departure. The word itself was adopted into English (via Latin) from Greek Exodos, which literally means "the road out." The Greek word was formed by combining the prefix ex- and hodos, meaning "road" or "way." Other descendants of the prolific hodos in English include episode, method, odometer, and period. There are also several scientific words that can be traced back to hodos. Anode and cathode can refer, respectively, to the positive and negative electrodes of a diode, and hodoscope refers to an instrument for tracing the paths of ionizing particles.
According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptized on April 26, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptizing a newborn. Shakespeareâs date of death is conclusively known, however: it was April 23, 1616. He was 52 years old and had retired to Stratford three years before.
Although few plays have been performed or analyzed as extensively as the 38 plays ascribed to William Shakespeare, there are few surviving details about the playwrightâs life. This dearth of biographical information is due primarily to his station in life; he was not a noble, but the son of John Shakespeare, a leather trader and the town bailiff. The events of William Shakespeareâs early life can only be gleaned from official records, such as baptism and marriage records.
He probably attended the grammar school in Stratford, where he would have studied Latin and read classical literature. He did not go to university but at age 18 married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years his senior and pregnant at the time of the marriage. Their first daughter, Susanna, was born six months later, and in 1585 William and Anne had twins, Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet, Shakespeareâs only son, died 11 years later, and Anne Shakespeare outlived her husband, dying in 1623. Nothing is known of the period between the birth of the twins and Shakespeareâs emergence as a playwright in London in the early 1590s, but unfounded stories have him stealing deer, joining a group of traveling players, becoming a schoolteacher, or serving as a soldier in the Low Countries.
The first reference to Shakespeare as a London playwright came in 1592, when a fellow dramatist, Robert Greene, wrote derogatorily of him on his deathbed. It is believed that Shakespeare had written the three parts of Henry VI by that point. In 1593, Venus and Adonis was Shakespeareâs first published poem, and he dedicated it to the young Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd earl of Southampton. In 1594, having probably composed, among other plays, Richard III, The Comedy of Errors, and The Taming of the Shrew, he became an actor and playwright for the Lord Chamberlainâs Men, which became the Kingâs Men after James Iâs ascension in 1603. The company grew into Englandâs finest, in no small part because of Shakespeare, who was its principal dramatist. It also had the finest actor of the day, Richard Burbage, and the best theater, the Globe, which was located on the Thamesâ south bank. Shakespeare stayed with the Kingâs Men until his retirement and often acted in small parts.
By 1596, the company had performed the classic Shakespeare plays Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, and A Midsummer Nightâs Dream. That year, John Shakespeare was granted a coat of arms, a testament to his sonâs growing wealth and fame. In 1597, William Shakespeare bought a large house in Stratford. In 1599, after producing his great historical series, the first and second part of Henry IV and Henry V, he became a partner in the ownership of the Globe Theatre.
The beginning of the 17th century saw the performance of the first of his great tragedies, Hamlet. The next play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, was written at the request of Queen Elizabeth I, who wanted to see another play that included the popular character Falstaff. During the next decade, Shakespeare produced such masterpieces as Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest. In 1609, his sonnets, probably written during the 1590s, were published. The 154 sonnets are marked by the recurring themes of the mutability of beauty and the transcendent power of love and art.
Shakespeare died in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1616. Today, nearly 400 years later, his plays are performed and read more often and in more nations than ever before. In a million words written over 20 years, he captured the full range of human emotions and conflicts with a precision that remains sharp today. As his great contemporary the poet and dramatist Ben Jonson said, âHe was not of an age, but for all time.â
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 22, 2016 is:
noetic \noh-ET-ik\ adjective
: of, relating to, or based on the intellect
In addition to her chemistry courses, Elena took electives in philosophy and the classics to satisfy her thirst for noetic stimulation.
"But the new emphasis on curiosity as a noetic virtue adds a note of transcendence to the portrait of the ideal thinker." — John J. Conley, America: The National Catholic Review, 1 Feb. 2016
Did you know?
Noetic derives from the Greek adjective noētikos, meaning "intellectual," from the verb noein ("to think") and ultimately from the noun nous, meaning "mind." (Nous also gave English the word paranoia by joining with a prefix meaning "faulty" or "abnormal.") Noetic is related to noesis, a rare noun that turns up in the field of philosophy and refers to the action of perceiving or thinking. The most notable use of noetic might be in the name of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, a research organization based in California that is devoted to studies of consciousness and the mind.
Earth Day, an event to increase public awareness of the world’s environmental problems, is celebrated in the United States for the first time. Millions of Americans, including students from thousands of colleges and universities, participated in rallies, marches, and educational programs.
Earth Day was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a staunch environmentalist who hoped to provide unity to the grassroots environmental movement and increase ecological awareness. “The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy,” Senator Nelson said, “and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda.” Earth Day indeed increased environmental awareness in America, and in July of that year the Environmental Protection Agency was established by special executive order to regulate and enforce national pollution legislation.
On April 22, 1990, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, more than 200 million people in 141 countries participated in Earth Day celebrations.
Earth Day has been celebrated on different days by different groups internationally. The United Nations officially celebrates it on the vernal equinox, which usually occurs about March 21.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 21, 2016 is:
litany \LIT-uh-nee\ noun
2 a : a resonant or repetitive chant
b : a usually lengthy recitation or enumeration
c : a sizable series or set
"In a silent inner litany, I say 'thank you' for the magnificent gifts of a healthy body: lungs that breathe the cool, foggy air; a nose that smells eucalyptus leaves and banana muffins; eyes that see hummingbirds swooping outside my window; a tongue that has just savored a golden, juicy peach." — Anne Cushman, The Yoga Journal, January/February 2004
"A litany of NFL stars have retired early in recent years, with most of them citing the dangers of football as the primary reason they decided to hang it up." — Alex Reimer, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2016
Did you know?
Litany came to English through Anglo-French and Late Latin, ultimately from the Greek word litaneia, meaning "entreaty." Litany refers literally to a type of prayer in which a series of lines are spoken alternately by a leader and a congregation. This use dates to the 13th century. Between that century and the 20th, three figurative senses developed. The chant-like quality of a literal litany led first to a "repetitive chant" sense. Next, the repetitious—and sometimes interminable—nature of the original litany led to a "lengthy recitation" sense. Finally, the "lengthy recitation" sense was extended to refer to any sizable series or set.
According to tradition, on April 21, 753 B.C., Romulus and his twin brother, Remus, found Rome on the site where they were suckled by a she-wolf as orphaned infants. Actually, the Romulus and Remus myth originated sometime in the fourth century B.C., and the exact date of Rome’s founding was set by the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro in the first century B.C.
According to the legend, Romulus and Remus were the sons of Rhea Silvia, the daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa. Alba Longa was a mythical city located in the Alban Hills southeast of what would become Rome. Before the birth of the twins, Numitor was deposed by his younger brother Amulius, who forced Rhea to become a vestal virgin so that she would not give birth to rival claimants to his title. However, Rhea was impregnated by the war god Mars and gave birth to Romulus and Remus. Amulius ordered the infants drowned in the Tiber, but they survived and washed ashore at the foot of the Palatine hill, where they were suckled by a she-wolf until they were found by the shepherd Faustulus.
Reared by Faustulus and his wife, the twins later became leaders of a band of young shepherd warriors. After learning their true identity, they attacked Alba Longa, killed the wicked Amulius, and restored their grandfather to the throne. The twins then decided to found a town on the site where they had been saved as infants. They soon became involved in a petty quarrel, however, and Remus was slain by his brother. Romulus then became ruler of the settlement, which was named “Rome” after him.
To populate his town, Romulus offered asylum to fugitives and exiles. Rome lacked women, however, so Romulus invited the neighboring Sabines to a festival and abducted their women. A war then ensued, but the Sabine women intervened to prevent the Sabine men from seizing Rome. A peace treaty was drawn up, and the communities merged under the joint rule of Romulus and the Sabine king, Titus Tatius. Tatius’ early death, perhaps perpetrated by Romulus, left the Roman as the sole king again. After a long and successful rule, Romulus died under obscure circumstances. Many Romans believed he was changed into a god and worshipped him as the deity Quirinus. After Romulus, there were six more kings of Rome, the last three believed to be Etruscans. Around 509 B.C., the Roman republic was established.
Another Roman foundation legend, which has its origins in ancient Greece, tells of how the mythical Trojan Aeneas founded Lavinium and started a dynasty that would lead to the birth of Romulus and Remus several centuries later. In the Iliad, an epic Greek poem probably composed by Homer in the eighth century B.C., Aeneas was the only major Trojan hero to survive the Greek destruction of Troy. A passage told of how he and his descendants would rule the Trojans, but since there was no record of any such dynasty in Troy, Greek scholars proposed that Aeneas and his followers relocated.
In the fifth century B.C., a few Greek historians speculated that Aeneas settled at Rome, which was then still a small city-state. In the fourth century B.C., Rome began to expand within the Italian peninsula, and Romans, coming into greater contact with the Greeks, embraced the suggestion that Aeneas had a role in the foundation of their great city. In the first century B.C., the Roman poet Virgil developed the Aeneas myth in his epic poem the Aeneid, which told of Aeneas’ journey to Rome. Augustus, the first Roman emperor and emperor during Virgil’s time, and Julius Caesar, his great-uncle and predecessor as Roman ruler, were said to be descended from Aeneas.