Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Oikos

Spotted last week in a New Jersey supermarket:



[Photograph by Rachel Leddy.]
Oikos (οίκος) is one of my favorite ancient Greek words. Its meanings include house, dwelling, household, and family (as in "the house of Atreus"). Oikos is the source of ec- and eco-, as in ecology and economics. It's a key word in Homer's Odyssey, which is about finding one's way back home.

The cover of Stanley Lombardo's translation of the Odyssey makes this point beautifully, with a cropped version of "Earthrise," an Apollo 8 photograph of our one oikos, taken as the astronauts orbited the moon. When the Odyssey begins, Odysseus may as well be on the moon: stuck on Calypso's island, he has been removed from all possibilities of human culture.
Earthrise (NASA)
All Homer posts (via del.icio.us)
(Thanks, Rachel!)

comments: 2

Laneman said...

Oikos is also a scholarly a journal issued by the Nordic Ecological Society and is one of the leading peer-reviewed journals in ecology. Don't you just love the web of connections?
http://www.oikos.ekol.lu.se/oikosjrnl.html

Michael Leddy said...

That's wonderful to know. Thanks, Laneman!