Hippocampus

🏷  Greek horse mythical creature pun · symbol   —   by Gerry · Jan 2021 · 146 words

The hippocampus is a Greek sea-horse. The name is curious, so it’s likely a pun with Greek επικομπεω epikompeo for “boasting”. The giveaway is that these critters draw the chariot of Poseidon, who is a pun with “lying” & “cheating”.

To form a sea-horse, the ancient storytellers should simply have added a word for “sea” or “fish” to the horse. Instead they chose to to marry the horse with a kampos , which is some rare term for an unknown sea monster. It’s likely some serpent or a snaky fish, because the word root is associated with “twisting” & “bending”. This easily leads to some spooky pun, which explains the odd choice.

Greek hippo-kampos = sea-horse; epi-kompeo = boasting

ἵππω híppō : horse, mare, horsemen (nominative/accusative/vocative dual) — Ancient Greek (Wikt)

κάμπος kampos : sea monster — Ancient Greek (Wikt)

ἐπικομπέω epikompeo : boast of — Ancient Greek (LSJ.gr)

ὑψίκομπος hypsikompos : boasting, arrogant — Ancient Greek (LSJ.gr)

🏷  Greek horse mythical creature pun · symbol