Thursday, August 25, 2005

by The Windjammer


Most of us can rattle off the names of the Seven Dwarfs without so much as stammering. Some guy by the name of Disney made sure that Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy and Sneezy became household words at the same time that Snow White became an internationally known fictitious figure.

Some of us can even recall the Magnificent Seven, another group of fictional characters in a movie based on the Japanese film which the British and Americans dubbed "The Seven Samurai." It’s real title is difficult to pronounce, but it translates roughly "Shichinni no samurai." The Magnificent Seven, just in case your memory bank is too full of other trivia, were Chris (Yul Brynner), Vin (Steve McQueen), Chico (Horst Buchholz), Bernardo O’Reilly (Charles Bronson), Lee (Robert Vaughn), Harry Luck (Brad Dexter) and Britt (James Coburn).

That ought to tell us something. I’m not sure what.

There have been a few other notable sevens. You may not be as familiar with some of them, but there is one group with which everyone has a nodding acquaintance since all of us above the age of six has committed at least one and most of us have committed at least nine of them, some of them twice. They are the seven deadly sins: pride, lust, envy, anger, covetousness, gluttony and sloth. At this very moment, I may be guilty of that last one myownself.

There are seven liberal arts, further divided into a trivium and a quadrivium. If you are really interested in knowing which is which, the first three are the tri, the last four are the quad. How about that! Grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, astronomy, arithmetic and music. If you want to put them in alphabetical order, you’ll have to that yourself--I can’t spell.

Everyone has heard of the Seven Seas and the rugged men who sailed them. They are the North Atlantic, the South Atlantic, the North Pacific, the South Pacific, the Indian, the Arctic and the Antarctic Oceans. More recent usage has switched the meaning to include all of the navigable waters of the world, but that is a part of one of my pet peeves. I would much rather that people who want to describe either what they don’t understand or what they are doing find new words rather than mess around with my old ones which already had perfectly good meanings.

Only a true Roman or someone who imagines he is or was could tell you the names of the Seven Hills of (Ancient) Rome. They are Palatine, Caelian, Esquiline, Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal and Aventine. I spent some of my wasted youth and several years of my wasted adult years in and around Fairmont, West Virginia. We had a sharp knob on the East Side (actually just a bit outside the East Side) called Palatine Knob. The only thing I can remember clearly about it was that it had Nick Fantasia’s radio station and two coveys of bobwhite quail. I never shot up the radio station, but I sure missed a lot of quail just around the hill from it.

Hardly anyone, even if he is Greek, remembers the Seven Against Thebes or how they came to be. They were heroes of Greek legend. Adrastus, Amphiaraus, Capaneus, Hippomedon, Parthenopaeus, Polynices and Tydeus were the original seven who rode together to try to restore the throne of Thebes to Polynices. It had been usurped by his brother, Eteocles. The expedition flopped, to put it briefly.

The Ancient Greeks also gave us the Seven Sages. Bias, Chilon, Cleobulus, Periander, Pittaeus, Solon and Thales. They were political philosophers and politicians. Solon is about the only one that people remember. I suspect that is because he was known as "the lawgiver."

The Seven Sisters (of academia) are the seven colleges which were once the hideouts of the feminine side of hoity-toity folk. They are Vassar, Radcliffe, Wellesley, Mt. Holyoke, Barnard, Sarah Lawrence and Smith.

The Seven Sisters (of the petroleum industry) are Chevron (Socol), Exxon, Standard Oil of California, Gulf, Mobil, British Petroleum and Texaco.

Seven Sisters is also another name for Joe Pye weed, if that tells you anything.

No list of sevens would be complete without a mention of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. They are listed here in no particular order. The Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Pharos (lighthouse) at Alexandria, the Temple of Diana at Ephesus, the Colossus at Rhodes and the Mausoleum of King Mausolos at Halicarnassus.


Buffalo said...


Anonymous said...

And don't forget Craps- lucky number 7