Modern Heroic Couplets by Paul Burgess–inspired by a scene in Homer [Book 9 of The Odyssey; one might view these lines as a compressed adaptation and modernization of a much longer passage.]
While clutching at his mutilated eye,
To Ulysses, the Cyclops gave reply:
“An oracle, whose words I could recite,
Predicted that the man who’d take my sight
Would be the famous hero Ulysses.
From mini morsels, shorter than my knees,
I had no fear of death or even harm—
A shadow might have caused me more alarm!
Assuming only force could make me blind,
I was not ready for a deadly mind.
Good Queen Elizabeth the First
Among all liars was the worst.
She was a virgin, people said,
Including those who shared her bed. (Alternate ending: Because they’d rather keep their head[s]…)
Although the television was invented in the 20th century, the word “television”—originally the phrase “tell ye vision”—was coined centuries earlier by Henry VIII’s friend Tomas Morris. A passage in Morris’s pastoral allegory Mootopia mentions a device that would save people the effort of thinking through views or arriving at their own opinions. The device would tell one how to view all aspects of life; as one character in Mootopia says to another, With it to tell ye vision, you’ll need no eyes. It’ll tell ye, “Here you’ll love and there despise.”
Inventors in the 20th century were inspired by the idea of a product that they thought might increase economic productivity by reducing the amount of effort that people would need to put into thought. When trying to find a name more appealing than “idiot box,” inventors remembered Tomas Morris’s famous “Tell ye vision” couplet and decided that “television” had a nice ring.
Two words still in use combined to form this originally xenophobic term. Like the Ancient Greeks, who considered all non-Greeks “barbarians,” the Early Modern Brits thought of all outsiders as enemies and referred to other kingdoms as places where the “foe reigns”. [Pronunciation of the first syllable has changed gradually from “foe” to “for”].
The earliest recorded use of the term appears in Gilliam Tremblestaff’s tragedy Spamlet: “As long as Philip wears the crown in Spain, That land I’ll loathe and always call ‘foe-reign'”.