Gordian Knot

English is history, present and future. Language that evolves in every era. 

Heya, so this blog is for all history and literature lovers. Most of you must have heard of an idiom ‘cut the Gordian knot’ at some or the other point of life. If not, then don’t worry, it means to solve intractable problem easily by finding a loophole or thinking creatively.  But do you know what exactly Gordian knot means.

The term Gordian Knot is specifically defined as a complex and unsolved problem. To know the history of Gordian knot you need to recollect the history books on Alexander the Great

As the story goes, go little more back from Alexander the Great to the  legend of Phrygian Gordium. The Phrygians were without a king, but an oracle at Telmissus (the ancient capital of Lycia) decreed that the next man to enter the city driving an ox-cart should become their king. A peasant farmer named Gordias drove into town on an ox-cart and was immediately declared king. Out of gratitude, his son Midas dedicated the ox-cart to the Phrygian god Sabazios (whom the Greeks identified with Zeus) and tied it to a post with an intricate knot of cornel bark (Cornus mas). The knot was later described by Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus as comprising “several knots all so tightly entangled that it was impossible to see how they were fastened.”

The ox-cart still stood in the palace of the former kings of Phrygia at Gordium in the fourth century BC when Alexander arrived, at which point Phrygia was a province of the Persian Empire. An oracle had declared that any man who could unravel its elaborate knots was destined to become ruler of all of Asia. Alexander wanted to untie the knot but struggled to do so without success. He then reasoned that it would make no difference how the knot was loosed, so he drew his sword and sliced it in half with a single stroke. In an alternative version of the story, Alexander loosed the knot by pulling the linchpin (a pin passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position) from the yoke. Alexander later went on to conquer Asia as far as the Indus and the Oxus, thus fulfilling prophecy.

The Gordian knot was loosed, which was a intractable task, because of the Alexander’s cunningness or of his way of tackling problems in different way. 

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