Gordian knot


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Gordian knot

A complicated problem that can only be solved with creative or unorthodox thinking. In Greek and Roman mythology, King Gordian tied such a complex knot that only Alexander the Great was able to loosen it by cutting it with his sword. Trying to remove the gum from my daughter's hair turned into quite the Gordian knot. Ultimately, it was just easier to cut the tangled mess out of her hair. The coding problem looked like a Gordian knot until we realized we could bypass it altogether with a different approach.
See also: Gordian, knot

cut the Gordian knot, to

To get out of trouble by taking a single decisive step. According to legend, Gordius, a peasant who became king of Phrygia, dedicated his wagon to the god Jupiter and tied the yoke to a tree with such a difficult knot that no one could unfasten it. Alexander the Great was told that whoever could untie the wagon would rule all Asia, whereupon he simply cut the knot with his sword. Many writers have alluded to this myth, among them Shakespeare (“Turn him to any cause of policy, the Gordian Knot of it he will unloose”), in HenryV (1.1). It has been a cliché since about 1800 but is seldom heard today.
See also: cut, Gordian

Gordian knot

A difficult problem that can be solved by an unexpected and simple method. According to an old Greek legend, a poor peasant named Gordius appeared in the public square of Phrygia in an ox cart. Since an oracle had prophesized that the future king would ride into town in a wagon, Gordius was made ruler. In gratitude, Gordius dedicated his ox cart to Zeus and tied the cart to a pole with a highly intricate knot, whereupon an oracle foretold that whosoever untied the knot would rule all of Asia. Although many tried in vain to untie the knot, it took Alexander the Great to do so, which he did with one cut of his sword. That might not have been the method that Gordius or the oracle had in mind, but it was good enough to enable Alexander to conquer most of Asia as well as a large chunk of the rest of the known world.
See also: Gordian, knot
References in periodicals archive ?
It is, perhaps, the knife that will cut the Gordian Knot of the pending Cyprus problem," the President said, noting that this was something that all interlocutors understood at the UN, Europe and the United States and everywhere else it has been raised.
The only answer to this problem is to cut the Gordian knot (no pun intended), leave the European Union and repeal all the restrictive, useless legislation emanating from it.
Rather, they would prefer to hide behind an elaborate Gordian knot of marketing mumbo jumbo built up over the years in an effort to make 'marketing' seem bigger and more scientific than it usually is -that is, at the level of business that most of us work in.
The dispute over costs between the independent care-home owners and the local authorities which pick up the bill is one of Gordian knot proportions.
Mr James himself believes that the situation has become so complex that a public inquiry is now the only way to unravel the Gordian knot.
He also called on the Government to tackle the 'Gordian knot of tax complexity' affecting savings and to increase consumer knowledge of finance.
I ended up by saying to the little lass that dealing with them was like trying to unravel the Gordian Knot. `What knot?' she asked.
The legends around Alexander - the taming of his horse, Bucephalus; his unorthodox unravelling of the Gordian Knot and so on - are set in the context of a wide-ranging survey and judicious discussion of what available sources tell of the life and character of the charismatic Alexander.
One organisation in particular, the Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org), is trying to cut through the Gordian knot of legalese surrounding IP licensing.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors believes it can untie the Gordian knot baffling Britain's two biggest mortgage lenders - how to arrive consistently at corresponding house price statistics.
* It could have been called The Gordian Knot, but the manufacturers decided to name it after its Hungarian inventor.
Now, he has abrogated the article of the Indian constitution that conferred a special status on Kashmir to the applause of a vast section of people, including several opposition parties and prominent individuals who have likened it to the cutting of the Gordian knot, which others were too timid to do.
Beyond the high-end discussions, the conference should help countries to cut the Gordian knot of human settlement woes.
Among their topics are Ivan the Terrible and Muscovite political culture: cutting the Gordian knot, unresolved evidentiary issues concerning Rus' heretics of the late 15th to early 16th centuries, words and things: contemporary translation of the Russian institutional vocabulary of the 16th-17th centuries, calculating the casualties of forced labor: Azov as a harbinger of Petrine policies, and princes and Cossacks: putting Ukraine on the map of Europe.
But all that was merely just another twist in the Gordian knot of the negotiations as a whole.