Superstitions and why we have them

Through no fault of their own, perfectly innocent black dogs have sometimes had  unwelcome imagery thrust upon them – even as far as claiming a black dog is really the devil in disguise.

In c 50 the Roman poet and satirist Horace, used the image of a black dog as a bad omen and by the 1700 it was established in English as a synonym for depression, with a period of severe depression being described as a visit from the  a black dog. Samuel Johnson referred to it in this way as did Sir Walter Scott and  Robert Louis Stevenson. When Winston Churchill later acknowledged his own periods of depression, writers referred to it as his ‘black dog’ though there is scant evidence that Churchill ever said it himself.

Published by Exisle Publishing

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Max Cryer

Max Cryer is well known for his books on language and other subjects. In a long career, he has been a teacher, television host and m.c. as well as a performer on the opera stage in London and in cabaret in Las Vegas and Hollywood. He is now a full-time writer.