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Gordian Knot

Gordian Knot

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Gordian knot was an extremely complicated knot tied by Gordius, the king of Phrygia in Asia Minor*. Located in the city of Gordium, the knot came to symbolize a difficult problem that was almost impossible to solve.

According to legend, Gordius was a peasant who married the fertility goddess Cybele. When Gordius became king of Phrygia, he dedicated his chariot to Zeus* and fastened it to a pole with the Gordian knot. Although the knot was supposedly impossible to unravel, an oracle predicted that it would be untied by the future king of Asia.

Many individuals came to Gordium to try to undo the knot, but they all failed. Then, according to tradition, the Greek conqueror Alexander the Great visited the city in 333 b.c. After searching unsuccessfully for the hidden ends of the Gordian knot, Alexander became impatient. In an unexpected move, he took out his sword and cut through the knot. Alexander then went on to conquer Asia, thus fulfilling the oracle's prophecy. Alexander's solution to the problem led to the saying, "cutting the Gordian knot," which means solving a complicated problem through bold action.

See also Cybele; Midas.

oracle priest or priestess or other creature through whom a god is believed to speak; also the location (such as a shrine) where such words are spoken

prophecy foretelling of what is to come; also something that is predicted

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Gordian knot

Gor·di·an knot / ˈgôrdēən/ • n. an extremely difficult or involved problem. PHRASES: cut the Gordian knot solve or remove a problem in a direct or forceful way, rejecting gentler or more indirect methods.

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Gordian knot

Gordian knot: see Gordius.

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