When I was a wee girl and my mother and I lived in Greece, English reading material was hard to come by--unless, like me, you read your fifth grade English textbook because it had some stories in it. Mostly, we relied on loved ones sending us (me) care packages of books. I also got a Mad Magazine subscription, of which I saw sporadic delivery. (We lived on Santorini, and mail was delivered to a poste restante address. I always thought the subscription department at Mad must have gone, "This is a far out address, who is getting Mad there?") Usually we could get an Athens-based newspaper in English that was produced for ex-pats (I thought it was The Athenian, but Google reveals nothing of the sort). A magazine shop that I knew of in a certain part of the island tended to stock comic books in English. I was never into comic books, but man I devoured those. I had to.
There were a few presses in Athens that printed English books, some for Greeks learning English as a second language. I was about eleven, and I remember getting an ESL copy of Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, and I absolutely loved it.
One book we got that was written by an Irish travelwriter and printed by an English Athenian press was called The Greek Gods: An Iconoclast's Guide. The book delves into the myths and each God, and gives a nice, short, and quite humorous roundup of the Gods and their often bad behavior. I still have this book.
I never fully understood what iconoclast meant until I looked it up, despite thinking I understood it because we had this book. Being eleven, I thought I'd go ahead and figure it out; didn't I teach myself what the semicolon was used for based on reading books and watching its use? Hadn't I learned many things I didn't really need to learn at age eleven by reading the bodice-ripper novels discarded by tourists at the hotels? Hadn't I discovered that fine literature can and did include fan books on Culture Club when one is a voracious reader and starved for reading material? Indeed. So, I assumed iconoclast referred to someone who was an independent thinker.
Actually, it means one who attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional and popular ideas or institutions or one who seeks to destroy sacred religious images. (I guess you could say that's an independent thinker.) Oh my. Now this is a much different meaning that I ever thought. But, in reference to the most excellent guide to the Greek Gods, I can't say that the author, one Maureen O'Sullivan, was truly challenging ideas of the Greek Gods or overthrowing the traditional myths. No, from what I understand and from other Greek myth study, Ms. O'Sullivan was merely condensing the myths and descriptions of the Gods into palatable and humorous doses. Perhaps her use of the word was tongue-in-cheek.
Either way, the word iconoclast is beautiful, if perhaps somewhat specific in its use. Did you know this word? Do you have any experiences with it? Please leave them in the comments.
And P.S. I know my Nemesis is thinking "Ooooooh, Sierra is iconoclastic against me," but whatevers, we all know he is iconoclastic against me, so pbbbbbbbhhhttthh.