Thursday, December 10, 2009

keep it secret, keep it safe, keep it dry

to an engineer "hermetic" means airtight (i.e. a waterproof camera needs an hermetic seal), and this meaning can make sense when you make the connection between "hermetic" and the greek god hermes.
the greeks realized the similarities between their god hermes and the egyptian god thoth, so they blended them together into the mythical syncretism hermes trismegistus, who was a powerful alchemist.

this hermes was able to seal treasure chests so that nothing was able to penetrate them or access their contents. this illustrates multiple meanings of the word hermetic: both an airtight (and then some) seal as well as something that is secret or hidden.

this hermes also gives us the word hermeneutics, which is the study of hidden meanings and interpretations.