17 April 2008

Things I've learned: Phobos and Deimos

Mars has 2 moons Phobos and Deimos. Both were discovered in 1877 by Asaph Hall. Mars is the Roman god of war, called Ares by the Greeks. Ares had 2 sons by Aphrodite, named…you guessed it, Phobos and Deimos.

Phobos means panic/fear and Deimos means terror/dread. The sons were close companions of their father, always depicted as driving his chariot and assisting him on the battlefield. See for yourself:

"[Ares] ordered Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror) to harness his horses, and himself got into his shining armour." - Homer, Iliad 15.110

"Ares drove these [warriors] on ... and Deimos (Terror) drove them, and Phobos (Fear), and Eris (Hate) whose wrath is relentless, she the sister and companion of murderous Ares." - Homer, Iliad 4.436

It’s a little annoying that the planet has the Roman name and the moons the Greek…but I’m willing to let it slide, because I like the concept of naming the moons after the sons of the planet’s namesake. Moons are like the planet's children, after all. And I like the poetry of it all, that in life and literature and astronomy, war is always accompanied by fear and terror.


1 comment:

Barn Owl said...

Yeah dog, I luv it when ladeez quote Homer.