Michael Macrone

Between the Lines
Books for Lovers of Language Writing
(The Orlando Sentinel, December 1, 1991)

By Nancy Pate

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Orlando Sentinel

Michael Macrone, who wrote the useful and amusing Brush Up Your Shakespeare, now offers It's Greek to Me! Brush Up Your Classics (HarperCollins, $17). Don't worry—this isn't a Berlitz course in how to speak Greek. Actually, you probably know more Greek than you realize because many common terms and phrases have their origin in classical literature, philosophy, drama and history. "To bite the dust" comes from Homer's Iliad, "sour grapes" from Aesop's fable about the fox and the grapes, "dog days" from Pliny the Elder's Natural History and "cloud-cuckoo-land" from Aristophanes' The Birds. The original meanings of some expressions may surprise you. The famous Trojan horse, for example, was built by the Greeks, who presented it to the unsuspecting Trojans. Hence the warning, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

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