1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Myrmidones

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MYRMIDONES, in Greek legend, an Achaean race, in Homeric times inhabiting Phthiotis in Thessaly. According to the ancient tradition, their original home was Aegina, whence they crossed over to Thessaly with Peleus, but the converse view is now more generally accepted. Their name is derived from a supposed ancestor, son of Zeus and Eurymedusa, who was wooed by the god in the form of an ant (Gr. μύρμηξ); or from the re peopling of Aegina (when all its inhabitants had died of the plague) with ants changed into men by Zeus at the prayer of Aeacus, king of the island. The word “ myrmidon ” has passed into the English language to denote a subordinate who carries out the orders of his superior without mercy or consideration for others. See Strabo viii. 375, ix. 433; Homer, Iliad, ii. 681; schol. on Pindar Nem. iii. 21; Clem. Alex., Protrepticon, p. 34, ed. Potter.