Sam Stelfox

Thoughts from a software engineer, systems hacker and Linux gubernāre.


Mythological Naming

Most of my personal machines, servers, and network devices are named after mythological figures or places that somehow relate to their form or function. In this section I'm keeping a running track of the mythologies and names that I use for these various devices and why I chose them (this also indicates their function).


Agni is one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire, the messenger of the gods, the acceptor of sacrifice. Agni is in everyone's hearth; he is the vital spark of life, and so a part of him is in all living things; he is the fire which consumes food in peoples' stomachs, as well as the fire which consumes the offerings to the gods. He is the fire of the sun, in the lightening bolt, and in the smoke column which holds up the heavens. The stars are sparks from his flame. He was so important to the ancient Indians that 200 hymns in the Rig Veda are addressed to him, and eight of its ten books begin with praises dedicated to him.

Agni is closely associated with Indra, and is sometimes said to be his twin brother. Thus Dyaus Pita and Prthivi are named as two of his parents. But he has many more. Sometimes Kasyapa and Aditi are his parents; another time he is the son of a queen who keeps his birth secret from her king. He was born, like Indra, in full power and vigor. Agni is also said to be the son of ten mothers who are all sisters; these are the ten fingers of man. Another story tells that he consumed his parents when he was born, as they could not provide for him; this is symbolic of the fire born when two sticks are rubbed together which quickly are burned up by it. Dawn and Night are his sisters, his wife is Svaha, and he is the father of Karttikeya.

When Agni is described in anthropomorphic form, he sometimes has two faces which are smeared with butter. He has seven fiery tongues and sharpened, golden teeth. He is red in color, with black eyes and wild, black hair. He has seven arms and three legs, and seven rays of light emanate from his body. He either rides on a ram, or on a chariot, pulled by goats or sometimes parrots.

Agni loves all his worshipers equally, and so is loved in turn by all of them. He visits everyone's hearth, no matter if they are rich or poor. He is the mediator between the gods and mankind. He is a great consumer of Soma. When people use fire, they must face it toward the proper direction for different uses. When facing East, the fire should be used for sacrifices to the gods; when facing South, the fire should be used for sacrifices to the Manes or spirits of the dead; a cooking fire should always face toward the West. The proper offering to Agni, and hence all the gods, is ghee, which is clarified butter. Agni also had the power to impart immortality on mortals, as well as remove all sins at the time of one's death.

In later times, Agni's worship fell off dramatically. He became an incarnation of either Shiva or Brahma. Eventually he has come only to be called on by lovers, and by men who wish to increase their virility.


A small town in Wales, County Gwent, alongside the River Usk containing the ruins of a Roman legionary fort and amphitheater. The name means "City of the Legion" in Welsh so it has been claimed that Caerleon is the location of Arthur's ninth battle in the Historia Brittonum although others say that Chester is the location meant in the context of that text.

Caerleon is called "City of the Legions" by Geoffrey of Monmouth. He tells how Arthur holds court there and it remains an Arthurian center, never fully eclipsed by Camelot. Caerleon was also the closest place to Geoffrey's home town of Monmouth with ancient ruins of any note. Geoffrey also makes Caerleon the location of Guinevere's convent.

Before modern excavation, the amphitheater was covered by earth that followed the building's oval shape and local legend held that this was the true Round Table. There is also a local variant of the Arthur's Cave legend that tells of an underground chamber in a wood where one thousand of Arthur's men sleep until they are needed by Wales.



In Greek mythology, Iris is the personified goddess of the rainbow. She is regarded as the messenger of the gods to mankind, and particularly of the goddess Hera whose orders she brought to humans. Iris is the daughter of Titan Thaumas and the nymph Electra. She is portrayed as a young woman with wings and her attributes are a herald's staff and a water pitcher. She appears mainly on Greek vases.


Legba, a god of West Africa and Voodoo-ism, is the child of the Sky Pantheon. He is allied with destiny, but has no particular domain. Legba is very intelligent and cunning, despite the fact that he is a trickster.

Although Legba appears as a weak poorly dressed old man, he is really very strong. He understands all languages of humans and of the gods.

In Voodoo ceremonies, Legba is always the first to be invoked. No Loa, a spirit of the dead, is allowed to enter into the worshippers unless he has Legba's permission. This is because he holds the key to the gate separating the humans' world and the world of the gods.




Talos was a gigantic bronze creature, the guardian of the island Crete, variously connected to Zeus. According to one version of the myths he was created in Sardinia by Hephaestus on Zeus' command, who gave him to the Cretan king Minos. In another version Talos came to Crete with Zeus to watch over his love Europa, and Minos received him as a gift from her. There are suppositions that his name Talos in the old Cretan language meant the "Sun" and that Zeus was known in Crete by the similar name of Zeus Tallaios. Since Talos was a bronze man, his blood was lead, which they believed was a divine fluid (ichor), identical to that what runs in the veins of the gods. Talos' single vein was leading from his neck through his body to one of his heels, which was closed by a bronze nail or a bronze peg or a pin.

Talos' purpose was to run from his seat in Phaestos around the island three times a day and to throw rocks at any foreign ship coming to Crete without permission. When people from Sardinia tried to invade Crete, Talos made himself glow in the fire and he kept everyone in a fiery embrace with a wild grimace. This led to the term "sardonic grin."

The Argonauts, returning from Colchis, attempted to stop in Crete to obtain some drinkable water for their next journey. Jason tried to convince Talos that they were in an emergency situation and that they were going to leave immediately, but Talos refused to let them stop in Crete. With the help of Medea the Argonauts devised a trick, which meant the end of Talos. Medea made Talos inattentive and by looking at her he stumped on the rocks and he fell down. During his fall the nail closing the vein came out and Talos lost all his blood and died. There are more stories related to his death. According to one, Medea paralyzed him by casting a spell on him and drew the bronze nail from his heel and led the blood flow out. A third story tells that Talos died when he was hurt by one of the Argonauts, Poias, who shot a poisoned arrow in his heel.

Talos was represented together with the Argonauts and Medea on various vases from the 5th century BCE. The brothers Castor and Pollux accompanied by Medea are depicted capturing Talos (the collection of M. Jatta in Ruvo, Muzeo di Spina in Ferrara).Talos was portrayed on the coins of Phaestos in the 4th century BCE as a youthful nude figure with long wings hurling the stones from his hands. The wings, never mentioned in literature by the ancient authors, symbolized his fast movement (three times a day) around the whole island of Crete.

From ancient times various versions of this myth existed. First of all this bronze creature Talos and his special anatomy represented a mythological transformation of a technique used for creating bronze statues which was called "lost wax." This process of making bronze figures was common after the 16th century BCE in Crete, especially at Phaestos, which was believed to be the mythical dwelling of Talos.

Also the regular rushing of Talos around Crete can have a logical background. According to Plato, Talos' task was to walk through the Cretan villages three times each year to display the laws of Minos inscribed on a bronze tablet. There is an assumption that Talos was a judge, walking through the towns and villages, deciding the disputes of inhabitants in harmony with the law, which he carried with him on this big bronze tablet.

Occasionally the bronze guardian of Crete is confused with another Talos, who was a nephew of the artist and inventor Daedalus. This Talos was born with a great talent using it to invent a saw, a pair of compasses and a potter's wheel. But his life and death represent another mythical story completely different from Talos.


The original Germanic god of war and the patron god of justice, the precursor of Odin. At the time of the Vikings, Tyr had to make way for Odin, who became the god of war himself. Tyr was by then regarded as Odin's son (or possibly of the giant Hymir). He is the boldest of the gods, who inspires courage and heroism in battle. Tyr is represented as a man with one hand, because his right hand was bitten off by the gigantic wolf Fenrir (in old-Norse, the wrist was called 'wolf-joint'). His attribute is a spear; the symbol of justice, as well as a weapon.

At the day of Ragnarok, Tyr will kill the hound Garm, the guardian of the hell, but will die from the wounds inflicted by the animal. In later mythology, "Tyr" became to mean "god". He is also known as Tîwaz, Tiw and Ziu.


I've started choosing short philosophical sentences and using them as code names for various projects.