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You don't have to know a damned thing about Greek and Roman mythology to have heard of Pandora or the Trojans -- those characters have been used on company logos and by sports teams for as long as either has existed. After all, nobody holds the copyright on ancient myths. So why make up a new name for your company when you can just call it Cerberus?

A word of advice, though. Before you go sticking a mythological figure on your logo, take a few minutes to look up its story. Otherwise you get some downright hilarious unintentional results. Like ...

The Starbucks Siren

The Symbol Is Used For:

A classy-looking figure to put on the coffee chain's sign and cups.

Via Beerstreetjournal.com
We always thought it was Heather Graham holding up two striped bass.

But the Symbol Actually Means:

Obsession, addiction and death.

If you're familiar with the Starbucks logo, it's probably because, statistically, you are inside a Starbucks right now. If you're not familiar with Starbucks, that's because you're a hypothetical person created just so we could give this paragraph a satisfying structure.

Either way, you may not have realized that the woman in their green label with the perky breasts and weird twin-fishtail deal going on is a siren from Greek mythology.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Her crotch has three handlebar mustaches, which means she may have Roosevelt blood.

According to the Starbucks blog, she was chosen as the logo because Starbucks was looking for a nautical theme to capture the spirit of Seattle. Remember that this was back in 1971, when Seattle was known for sailing and seaports instead of grunge rock, rain and hipsters.

In mythology, sirens are consistently seen as a personification of the ocean -- and that's not a good thing. They're brutal sociopaths who murder you by being attractive. According to scholars, they would sing an "irresistibly sweet" song that "lapped both body and soul in[to] a fatal lethargy." Sailors who crossed paths with a siren would become so obsessed that they would crash into the rocks and die.

Via Wikipedia
Though we like to think they were actually trying to run them over because the sirens played nothing but old Zeppelin covers.

Much in the same way that countless people have been seduced by the lure of overpriced coffee, buying cup after cup until they finally succumb, buying an Apple laptop and spending the rest of their lives at one of those tiny tables, joining the other broken victims.

Versace's Medusa

The Symbol Is Used For:

The logo on a high-end Italian fashion label.

Man, we remember when the "I've fallen into a lake with my leather clothes on" look was huge.

But the Symbol Actually Means:

Vanity and promiscuity will ruin you.

Chances are you're familiar with the name Versace, even if it's only as "that word printed on things I can't afford." Just as iconic is the logo, based on Medusa:

Via Guijarrodesign.com
You should probably avoid trying their clothing on in front of a mirror.

And by Medusa, we mean a woman so hideous that looking upon her turned men into stone.

To Versace's credit, legend has it that Medusa was originally incredibly beautiful, so much so that she seduced the sea god Poseidon. The only problem is that they did the nasty thing inside the temple of Athena, another god who wasn't too happy about it. So Athena punished Medusa with the fangs and the hair-snakes and all that. The point is, this high-priced international fashion house based their logo on a cautionary tale about the dangers of lust and being too attractive.

Honestly, though? We'd still hit that.

Medusa's tale ends with her finally being beheaded. Her head was used as a weapon, since even when severed from her body it was still ugly and dangerous. Also, the blood that spilled from the head turned into poisonous snakes that infested the world. Now go buy some sexy-ass clothes, damn you!

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Trojan Condoms

The Symbol Is Used For:

Condoms, presumably to project strength and masculinity.

Via Yourlogoresources.com
Don't forget head. It definitely projects head.

But the Symbol Actually Means:

A container that broke open and released a murderous swarm of warriors.

They might be the most famous example, but the biggest condom company in the U.S. is hardly the only instance of somebody using "Trojan" as their mascot. The University of Southern California uses it as the mascot for their sports teams, and Googling around will reveal lots of companies adopting it for their name and logo. And why not? Trojans were badass warriors. Troy is, after all, the city that withstood an assault from the entirety of Greece for 10 straight years. Strong, resilient, everything you could want in both a football team and something that hugs your boner during sex.

Via Wikipedia
Makes you want to drag dead bodies behind your chariot like wedding cans.

But ask anyone what they think of when they hear the word "Trojan," and they're going to tell you about the Trojan horse. The most famous part of the Trojan war story. You know, at the end, when Troy lost. You know the story, right? The invaders built a huge wooden horse, their soldiers hid inside of it and the Trojans stupidly wheeled it inside their walls? Then the soldiers sneaked out and murdered everyone?

After all, that's how we get another popular usage of the word "Trojan," the kind of computer virus. It's not called that for its ability to trap semen. Instead, it's a benign-looking download that opens up and releases seven billion animated gifs of dicks onto your hard drive.

"His tail is raising! Unplug the tower!"

So what we're saying is that "Trojan" was probably not the best choice of words for something you're trying to convince a woman to put inside her body. Unless the goal was to convince her it was safe, before ...

Ah, never mind.

The Volkswagen Phaeton

The Symbol Is Used For:

A line of luxury sedans.

But the Symbol Actually Means:

A reckless teen who almost destroyed the world with his shitty driving.

Motor companies tend to name their cars based on what rolls nicely off the tongue. Either it's a meaningless, simple word (Ford Escort, Honda Civic) or it's one that invokes thoughts of speed and danger, like "viper" or "mustang." So Volkswagen probably just thought "Phaeton" was a cool word. After all, it sounds like a weapon out of Star Trek or something.

Or every dance crew ever formed.

They presumably did not know that the story of Phaeton from Greek mythology is the tale of a headstrong young man who, when he came of age, asked to borrow his father's chariot. When his father said, "Sure, whatever," Phaeton went out, had some fun and almost crashed it before Zeus killed him with a lightning bolt. We all have a similar story from our youth.

Phaeton was the son of Apollo, the god who carried the sun across the sky, so his "chariot" he was borrowing was also towing the sun around. So maybe that was the idea, that this car is so badass that you'll feel like you're driving a chariot hauling the massive, burning sun behind you?

Or Matthew Perry, which is pretty much the same load.

But that just makes the story worse, since crashing his chariot meant crashing the sun into the Earth. So Volkswagen named their luxury sedan after a near-apocalyptic drunk driving incident. One that was only avoided because someone murdered the driver before he could do any further damage.

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HTC Droid Eris

Via Letsgomobile.org

The Symbol Is Used For:

A line of smartphones.

A line that was evidently extremely proud of its clock feature.

But the Symbol Actually Means:

The goddess of frustration.

Cellphones seem to be named by the same people who name cars. They either get totally made-up words (Razr) or vaguely sci-fi sounding ones (Galaxy) or, in this case, names that sound like video game characters (Eris).

"Introducing the Verizon Sonic. Because video games are things."

The Droid Eris was the first smartphone that Verizon Wireless carried, and like a lot of modern smartphones, it boasted a lot of cool sounding features like "sense" and "multi-touch," none of which matter more than the all-important "having some goddamn service" feature which, unfortunately, it didn't have.

And that's why the name is so unintentionally fitting -- Eris was actually the Greek goddess of discord, frustration, rivalry and strife. She's known for fucking up weddings and starting the Trojan War by throwing an apple inscribed with the words "To the fairest" onto a table full of Greek gods and saying "You guys can probably sort that out."

Via Wikipedia
We hear Lowell McAdam has hooked feet.

So she's basically the Greek symbol for massive inconvenience, which makes sense when you're fumbling with your too-fat fingers over a smudgy touch screen that cracks if you so much as cast a shadow on it. Though originally the phone was called the HTC Hero, Verizon changed the name when they agreed to provide support for it. It seems almost like someone was trying to warn us.

The Symbol of Medicine, Caduceus

The Symbol Is Used For:

Medical institutions the world over.

"Well, four breast exams in one day seems a little excessive, but you're the doctor."

But the Symbol Actually Means:

Deceit and profit.

You're probably at least passingly aware of the universal symbol of doctors and medicine, but when you saw it on the back of an ambulance, you likely didn't know what the hell two snakes and a pair of wings had to do with either:

But you were pretty sure that if you rolled at least a 12, you'd resist its poison.

The answer is not a lot. However, the symbol, which is called a caduceus, does have strong connotations involving deceit, trickery and corporate greed. It's actually the staff of Mercury, Roman god of liars and thieves. To be fair, it would seem to be more fittingly the symbol of medical insurance companies rather than doctors.

The use of the caduceus as a symbol of medicine came into vogue in the 1850s, most likely due to a hilarious misunderstanding -- another image, the rod of Asclepius, is actually the ancient symbol for the god of medicine and healing, but it only has one snake and no wings. So, yeah, be glad you're not still living in an era when medical treatment involved getting smacked with a snake rod.

Via Medgadget.com
And don't dwell too hard on this article during your next root canal.

When they were looking for an appropriate logo for doctors and medics, they simply got the two symbols confused. It turns out sticks with snakes wrapped around them are more common in mythology than anyone realized.

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Cerberus Capital Management

The Symbol Is Used For:

One of the USA's largest private equity firms.

They've been known to buy a small company or two.

But the Symbol Actually Means:

A vicious dog that corners you and devours you alive.

A capital management firm works by finding companies that should be doing really well but aren't and then injecting them with some cash so that they can really shoot for the stars. At their best, they're like the gigantic corporate version of Mr. Miyagi, teaching you some "car-wax techniques" and "badass fight moves" (financial stability and investment smarts, respectively) so you can hold your own against the "local bully" (tumultuous economic climate). At their worst, they're like a gigantic three-headed dog that traps you on one side of a river and threatens to eat you alive if you ever try to escape.

Via Wikipedia
And then it pees on the carpet and swats your nose with a newspaper.

Cerberus Capital chose its name because the founder wanted to invoke the image of guarding his clients' funds. But the mythological dog is definitely best known for eating people alive and trapping them in a place they don't want to be (Hades) -- exactly the opposite of what a burgeoning company wants their new partner to do, unless that's somehow their business model.

We'd make a joke about Cerberus being an evil shadowy cabal, but founder Steve Feinberg already beat us to the punch with this comment:

"We try to hide ... If anyone at Cerberus has his picture in the paper and a picture of his apartment, we will do more than fire that person. We will kill him. The jail sentence will be worth it."

Via Wikipedia
He then drank the blood of an orphan and molested Hitler's corpse back to life before disappearing in a ball of flame.

Yeah. We'll just leave that up there all by itself.

J.F. Sargent Tumbles, Tweets and is the managing editor of Pculpa.com.

For more ridiculous backstories you need to know, check out The 7 Most WTF Origins of Iconic Pop Culture Franchises. Or check out why Hollywood knows better, but still doesn't give a shit in 5 Old-Timey Prejudices That Still Show Up in Every Movie.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn what SWAIM really stands for.

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