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Greek myths of programming – how to find a mythological god of programming? (pragmaticreview.com)
24 points by mchl-news 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 19 comments

I would vote Hephaestus. Aside from what is mentioned in the post, Hephaestus [is supposed to have] created Talos. Talos was a humanoid perimeter patrol robot with offences capabilities. Maybe that makes him more Tony Stark than god of programming?

He also created νευρόσπαστα (neurospasta) to help him around, literally traslated, nerve-tweakers (w/ nerves that spasm). That is machines whose nerves constrict and relax without thought, i.e androids.

Another reference to this kind of abilities of Hephaestus is in the famous passage from the Iliad when Hephaestus forges a new armor for Achilles.

In doing this work, Hephaestus is aided by some amphipoloi created by him (Greek amphipoloi = Latin ancillae, which means female servants), which were made of metal and which were sentient and followed exactly the commands of Hephaestus.

AFAIK, this Iliad fragment is the earliest description of robots that is known.

Eris, obviously. The pursuit of some poorly conceived, irrelevant metric destroys all harmony, derails any progress, and leaves smoking wreckage and bad feelings in its wake. From which arise the next generation of efforts which inch progress along yet another bit, maybe, if we're lucky.


Hephaestus is the god of makers.

I loved greek myths as a child, and in re-reading them to my children I regained an understanding of just how deeply the Greeks influenced modern culture, but even more importantly, the depth of the imagination around their deities.

Ultimately, though, I think it's the Odyssey that really brings it all together. Every man wants to be Odysseus and every woman wants to fuck him.

Speaking of which if anybody has a copy of the Telegony I'd love to have one. Circe bore Odysseus's child, Telegonus:

"On the goddess Athena's advice, Circe tells him the name of his father./

she gives him a supernatural spear to defend himself which is tipped with the sting of a poisonous stingray and was made by the god Hephaestus./

A storm forces Telegonus onto Ithaca without his realizing where he is. As is customary for Homeric heroes in unfriendly land, he commits piracy,/

Odysseus comes to defend his property, and during the ensuing fight, Telegonus kills Odysseus with his unusual spear,/

thereby partially fulfilling Tiresias' prophecy in Odyssey 11 that death would come to Odysseus "out of the sea" (i.e., the poison of the ray)

Eros. As articulated by Anne Carson:

"A thinking mind is not swallowed up by what it comes to know. It reaches out to grasp something related to itself and to its present knowledge (and so knowable in some degree) but also separate from itself and from its present knowledge (not identical with these). In any act of thinking, the mind must reach across this space between known and unknown, linking one to the other but also keeping visible to difference. It is an erotic space."

My first thought was Hermes, since he passed messages, defined scope, and was an important figure in alchemy. Alchemy, with its pseudo-scientific approach, its reliance on vaguely understood concepts, indecipherable symbols, and unreproducable results, best describes my relationship to programming.

I also first thought of Hermes (and then Hephaestus), but I think the alchemy association is through Hermes Trismegistus, who combines the messenger functions of Hermes with Thoth, the Egyptian god of writing and magic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermes_Trismegistus

FWIW it is eye opening to read about the close similarity in effects of Hindu chanting (mantras) with modern day programming . Hindu mythology describes and still believes in how certain incantation produces certain results. And they are believed to this day by many Hindus.

There's a tradition of Jewish mysticism that says the Universe was created out of letters and numbers, by combining them and permuting them. E.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sefer_Yetzirah.

Gospel of John also starts with the Word, which by and through all things were made.

Hermes is the obvious choice, as the messenger of the Gods, hence communications and so on.

Prometheus… though you may not like what you find.

Creation is fun and grand and everybody loves you... but then comes maintenance

I'm officially applying to my boss to change my title to "Senior Promethian".

def feels like getting your liver eaten over and over

Neal Stephenson makes an extensive case for Athena in Cryptonomicon towards the end of the book in a conversation between Root and Randy Waterhouse.

I highly recommend it.

And, yes, I consider Athena.

I've always gone for Athena, goddess of wisdom and knowledge. Hephaestus would be my second choice, fitting for those of us who toil in the code mines ;)

Arachne with her loom.

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