(Newton and the). Voltaire tells us that Mrs. Conduit, Newton's niece, told him that Newton was at Woolsthorpe, when, seeing an apple fall, he was led into a train of thought which resulted in his discovery of gravitation (1666).
His mother had married a Rev. B. Smith, and in 1656 had returned to Woolsthorpe. Her granddaughter was the wife of Mr. Conduit, who succeeded Newton in the Mint. Newton was on a visit to his mother.
The apple of discord. A cause of dispute; something to contend about. At the marriage of Thetis and Peleus, where all the gods and goddesses met together, Discord threw on the table a golden apple “for the most beautiful.” Juno, Minerva, and Venus put in their separate claims; and not being able to settle the point, referred the question to Paris, who gave judgment in favour of Venus. This brought upon him the vengeance of Juno and Minerva, to whose spite the fall of Troy is attributed.
The “apple” plays a large part in Greek story. Besides the “Apple of Discord,” related above, we have the three apples thrown down by Hippomenes when he raced with Atalanta. The story says that Atalanta stopped to pick up the apples, whereby Hippomenes won the race, and according to the terms obtained her for wife.
Then there are the golden apples of the Hesperides, guarded by a sleepless dragon with a hundred heads; but Hercules slew the dragon and carried some of the apples to Eurystheus. This was the twelfth and last of his “labours.”
Of course, the Bible story of Eve and the Apple will be familiar to every reader of this dictionary.
Apples of Istakhar are “all sweetness on one side, and all bitterness on the other.” Apples of Paradise , according to tradition, had a bite on one side, to commemorate the bite given by Eve. Apples of Pyban , says Sir John Mandeville, fed the pigmies with their odour only. Apples of Sodom. Thevenot says—“There are apple-trees on the sides of the Dead Sea which bear lovely fruit, but within are full of ashes.” Josephus speaks of these apples. Witman says the same is asserted of the oranges there. (See Tacitus, Hist., v. 7.)
Like to the apples on the Dead Sea's shore, All ashes to the taste.
Byron: Childe Harold , iii. 34. The apple of perpetual youth. This is the apple of Idun, daughter of the dwarf Svald, and wife of Bragi. It is by tasting this apple that the gods preserve their perpetual youth. (Scandinavian mythology.)
The singing apple had the power of persuading any one to anything. (Chery and Fairstar: Countess D'Anois.) Prince Ahmed's apple —a cure for every disorder. This apple the prince purchased at Samarcand. (Arabian Nights, Prince Ahmed, etc.) The apple of the eye. The pupil, of which perhaps it is a corruption. If not, it is from an erroneous notion that the little black spot of the eye is a little round solid ball like an apple. Anything extremely dear or extremely sensitive.
“He kept him as the apple of his eye.” —Deut. xxxii. 3.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894