Posted by: episystechpubs | December 10, 2013

Editor’s Corner: On the first day

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a partridge in a pear tree.

Here in the United States, you might have to substitute a pheasant or a quail, since the medium-sized partridge is native to almost everywhere except here. According to Greek legend, the first partridge was created when Daedalus, a master crafter and inventor, jealously threw his nephew Perdix (in Greek Пέρδιξ, meaning “partridge”) off the top of a tower.

The story goes that Perdix went to live with uncle Daedalus to learn the mechanical arts. As often happens in the Greek myths, the student outshines the teacher and the teacher goes a bit bonkers. While Daedalus is busy making wax and feather wings for his son Icarus (which will eventually lead to Icarus’s death because he flies to close to the sun, thus melting the wax and wings), Perdix is walking on the beach and collecting fish spines and serpent’s jaws and inventing the saw. Perdix is also claimed to be the creator of the compass (the two-point type used to draw circles, measure distance, and poke other students with).

When Daedalus can no longer handle being outshone by his nephew, he tries to bump him off, by pushing him from a high tower. Of course, this is a Greek myth, so there must be a god or goddess nearby. Indeed there is, and this time it is Athena. Athena values ingenuity and saves Perdix by turning him into a partridge and punishes Daedalus by branding him with the image of a partridge. (I think Daedalus still got the better deal.)

The result of this undesired flight as far as Perdix (the partridge) goes, is that partridges are destined to keep a low profile. They build their nests in bushes (not trees), they eat seeds off of the ground, and they don’t take long flights. If you are going to give someone a partridge, be kind. Put it in a pear bush rather than a pear tree.


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