Procrustes (prōkrŭsˈtēz), in Greek mythology, cruel highwayman. He forced passersby to lie on a very long bed and then stretched them to fit it. Some said that he also had a very short bed; to make passersby fit this he sawed off their legs. Using Procrustes' own villainous methods, Theseus killed him.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
in ancient Greek mythology, a giant robber who forced travellers to lie down on a bed, cutting off the feet of those who were longer than the bed and stretching out those who were shorter to make them fit the bed’s length; hence his name, which means “he who stretches.” Metaphorically, a “bed of Procrustes,” or “Procrustean bed,” is any artificial means of measure that has no relation to the real meaning of a phenomenon; any forcibly imposed limitation.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
robber; stretches or amputates limbs of victims to fit his bed. [Class. Myth.: Zimmerman, 221]
made travelers fit bed by stretching or lopping off their legs. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 221]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.