Friday, June 23, 2023

Titan Joins Titanic: What’s in a name?

You don’t want to end up in Tartarus, a sort of prison chamber at the lower depths of Hades. The mythographer Apollodorus described it as “a gloomy place in Hades as far distant from earth as earth is from sky.” This is where Zeus imprisoned the Titans, the previous ruling generation of gods, after overthrowing them. In Tartarus, according to Hesiod, the “Titan gods are hidden under murky gloom … at the farthest part of huge earth. They cannot get out, for Poseidon has set bronze gates on it.”

The sea god has gated them in under murky gloom. This is the fate of the Titans. So if you’re going to name a passenger ship that you hope will be a huge success, surely “Titanic” isn't exactly an auspicious name. Surely before christening your ship Titanic, you should at least have considered the fate of the original Titans.

Under murky gloom, off the coast of Newfoundland, sits the wreck of the Titanic. And now, somewhere in the vicinity, are the remains of five men who hoped to visit that wreck in a small submersible. The name of that submersible? The Titan.

You’d think people would have learned the first time.

Some names just “sound cool,” I suppose, so whoever’s in charge grabs at them when launching a new venture. The name “Ixion” sounds cool. It’s also from Greek myth. It’s the name Ford chose for one of their SUV models, the Ford Ixion.

Ixion was a king of the Lapiths, an ancient tribe of Thessaly. He murdered his step-father, and then, brought to Olympus, tried to seduce Zeus’ wife Hera. Not a good idea. He was punished by being fastened to a fiery wheel that would spin for eternity.

So if I’m going to name a new vehicle, why not choose "Ixion" and associate my vehicle with being tortured on a fiery wheel that never stops spinning? Sounds like what most customers want in a Sunday drive.

While we’re on this topic of branding and ancient names, we should remember the Trojan War. That war ended, of course, when the Trojans' wall was finally breached through the wiles of the Greek hero Odysseus. The Greeks entered the great city and had their way with it, finally burning it to the ground. The Trojans and their wall were not really impermeable is the point.

Hey, what a great name for a condom brand!


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