Posted by Bill on July 30, 2001
In Reply to: Phrase origin posted by Barney on March 01, 2000
: : could someone please tell me the derivation of the phrase "Don't kill the messenger" and/or anyplace to find information about it.
: : Many thanks.
This reply does seem consistent with ancient customy -- but, I believe you'll find that the original orgin is asscribt to a Greek King who, upon being told that his army had lost a battle, became so enraged that he literally, killed the messenger.
I was taught the story three decades ago ... and have since forgotten the specifics of the King and City State (I think Sparta) I'm currently searching for a source that will provide the name of the king for a document I'm preparing.
: It was the custom in Ancient Greece and later in Rome to employ messengers to carry the news throughout the city/state/empire. This news was not always to the liking of the recipients but the laws decreed that these messengers where to pass unharmed from place to place and city to city to deliver whatever message they were commanded to spread amongst the population.
: Hence the expression 'Don't kill the messenger': or rather its Greek or Latin equivalent.
: I'm sure there's a better explanation from some quotable source but the above remains the case irrespective of more detail.