Wednesday 27 February 2013

The Mythical Mountains of Paris

An odd thing about place names is that the etymology can be utterly obvious, it's just that you never think about it. Oxford is a ford for oxen, Cambridge is a bridge over the Cam. New York, New Jersey and New Orleans are simply brighter shinier versions of the old ones. New South Wales is just perverse.

This counts doubly if you put it into a foreign language with which you are passingly familiar. You can buy things in the Elysian Fields. You can drive up them. You can sing songs about them. The Elysian Fields are the Champs Elysées.

I actually used to live on Mount Parnassus. Mount Parnassus, since you ask, is the mountain in Greece sacred to the muses who live on the summit. But I lived there too. I lived in Montparnasse in Paris for a couple of months. And all the time I was there, I never noticed.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, place names we give little credit too as if somehow they just appeared by magic, and yet they can give us a deep insight into where we are. I too lived in Paris on another mount - that of the martyrs - but i knew it: every morning I martyred myself as the alarm clock gaed off at 6am ;)