Morning tetrameter naming

The morning began with:

Xenophon Bellerophon

Two Ancient Greek names — the philosopher, historian, and soldier Xenophon and the mythical hero Bellerophon — together making a line of trochaic tetrameter (when the secondary accents on phon are treated as accented in the poetic line).

As a linguist, I had hoped that the phon in these names would be the Greek ‘sound’ stem, so that Xenophon would be equivalent to an English noun xenophone, referring either to someone who speaks a foreign language (parallel to Anglophone and  Francophone) or to a non-native sound, from a foreign language (like the voiceless velar fricative [x] in relatively German-faithful pronunciations of the noun Bach in English).

But apparently not (though the etymologies of the names seem to be uncertain). My hopes are dashed.

Digression: the ‘speaker of a foreign language’ sense of xenophone seems not  to be attested, but there’s a Wiktionary entry for the ‘foreign sound’ sense:

noun xenophone: (phonetics) A sound in speech that is not native to the language being spoken; a sound from a foreign language. Etymology: from xeno-, from Ancient Greek ξένος (xénos, “foreign, of a stranger”) + –phone, from φωνή (phōnḗ, “sound”)

Another digression. Through a complex series of associations, Xenophon and Bellerophon intersect in the poet Pindar and his odes to Greek athletes:

From the publisher’s information on

The Greek poet Pindar (c. 518-428 BC) composed victory odes for winners in the ancient Games, including the Olympics. He celebrated the victories of athletes competing in foot races, horse races, boxing, wrestling, all-in fighting and the pentathlon, and his Odes are fascinating not only for their poetic qualities, but for what they tell us about the Games. Pindar praises the victor by comparing him to mythical heroes and the gods, but also reminds the athlete of his human limitations. The Odes contain versions of some of the best known Greek myths, such as Jason and the Argonauts, and Perseus and Medusa, and are a valuable source for insights on Greek religion and ethics. Pindar’s startling use of language, including striking metaphors, bold syntax, and enigmatic expressions, makes reading his poetry a uniquely rewarding experience.

The full tetrameter name poem. Xenophon Bellerophon led me on, to the fiery furnaces of Babylon (Wikipedia link) and the British Channel Islands (on this blog here). With poetic accents marked:

Xénophón Bellérophón
Shádrach Méshach Abédnegó
Jérsey Guérnsey Álderney and Sárk

From Greece to Babylon to the Norman coast. All on a late December morning.

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