Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Busy as Bees"

I wonder if the phrase/cliche "busy as bees" came from The Aeneid? I saw the epic simile on page 9 describing Carthage as "a tumult of bees" and I wondered if this common phrase came from that epic simile or maybe the phrase already existed and that's where Virgil got his idea from. Any ideas?


mere said...

I'm glad you posted this before the test, that's all I'm going to say... (cough cough short answer section)

Shaina Lu said...

Hahaha, when I saw the question on the test i was thinking the same thing.

Ravin S said...

Good thing I didn't see this before the test. I still think I got the answer right though.
This website says that it originated from Canterbury Tales, but that can't be true because it was written well after The Aeneid.

The site says:
As busy as a bee

Meaning: Very busy.

From Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, (the Squire's Tale), 1386-1400:

Ey! Goddes mercy!” sayd our Hoste tho,
Now such a wyf I pray God keep me fro.
Lo, suche sleightes and subtilitees
In wommen be; for ay as busy as bees
Be thay us seely men for to desceyve,
And from a soth ever a lie thay weyve.
And by this Marchaundes tale it proveth wel.

mere said...

sweet research skills

Shaina Lu said...

Wow, that's pretty cool Ravin! I think it could make sense that it originated for The Canterbury Tales even though it was written after The Aeneid because that could be the first time it was written in those exact words, "as busy as bees," even if Chaucer did borrow from Virgil. I guess we'll never know...

alyb said...

Oh dang i didnt even pick up on this, sometimes I forget how long a go the Aeneid was written. I think Virgil was very observant so it doesnt surprise me that he used bees to describe work. I remember learning that Virgil got all of the geography almost completely correct even though he couldnt have possibly known what the earth was like in the time that he wrote the Aeneid. I think Virgil really had a keen eye for detail.

sara pendleton said...

Maybe "busy as bees" goes back farther than both of these guys... What if (and this is kinda out on a limb) it's been a part of language longer than either of these works. I wonder if there are any phrases or words or things like that that are common to all languages, that might be a stretch for this particular quote but it just got me thinking that maybe there might be expressions that are so simple we never think about their orgins.

sara pendleton said...

can that last post please please count as a saturday post... I was about ten seconds late.