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Greek (The)


Manuel Alvaʹrez (el Griego), the Spanish sculptor (1727–1797).

All Greek to me. Quite unintelligible; an unknown tongue or language. Casca says, “For mine own part, it was all Greek to me.” (Shakespeare: Julius Cœsar, i. 2.) “Cʹest du Grec pour moi.”

Last of the Greeks. Philopœʹmen, of Megalopʹolis, whose great object was to infuse into the Achæans a military spirit, and establish their independence (B.C. 252–183).

To play the Greek (Latin, grœcari). To indulge in one’s cups. The Greeks have always been considered a luxurious race, fond of creature-comforts. Thus Cicero, in his oration against “Verres,” says: “Discumʹbitur; fit sermo inter eos et invitaʹtio, ut Grœco more bibereʹtur: hospes hortaʹtur, poscunt majoʹribus pocʹulis; celebraʹtur omnium sermoʹne lœtitiaque convivʹium.” The law in Greek banquets was E pithi e apithi (Quaff, or be off!) (Cut in, or cut off!). In Troilus and Cressida Shakespeare makes Panʹdarus, bantering Helen for her love to Troʹilus, say, “I think Helen loves him better than Paris;” to which Cressida, whose wit is to parry and pervert, replies, “Then she’s a merry Greek indeed,” insinuating that she was a “woman of pleasure.” (Troilus and Cressida, i. 2.)

Un Grec (French). A cheat. Towards the close of the reign of Louis XIV., a knight of Greek origin, named Apoulos, was caught in the very act of cheating at play, even in the palace of the grand monarque. He was sent to the galleys, and the nation which gave him birth became from that time a byword for swindler and blackleg.

Un potage à la Grecque. Insipid soup; Spartan broth.

When Greek joins Greek, then is the tug of war. When two men or armies of undoubted courage fight, the contest will be very severe. The line is from a verse in the drama of Alexander the Great, slightly altered, and the reference is to the obstinate resistance of the Greek cities to Philip and Alexander, the Macedonian kings.

“When Greeks joined Greeks, then was the tug of war.”

Nathaniel Lee.

In French the wordGrec” sometimes means wisdom, as—

Il est Grec en cela. He has great talent that way.

Il nʹest pas grand Grec. He is no great conjurer.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Great Wits to Madness nearly are Allied. (Pope.)
Greatheart (Mr.)
Greaves (Sir Launcelot)
Grebenski Cossacks
Grecian Bend (The)
Grecian Coffee-house
Grecian Stairs
Greedy (Justice)
Greek (The)
Greek Calends
Greek Church
Greek Commentator
Greek Cross
Greek Fire
Greek Gift (A)
Greek Life
Greek Trust

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