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Conventional wisdom holds that genius is underappreciated in its own time; one might compare Vincent Van Gogh, who struggled for regognition during his life but is now a household word, with his contemporary Jean-Léon Gérôme, whose paintings and reproductions enjoyed immense popularity, but has since faded into relative obscurity. [Mar 2006]


The term genius is originally a Latin term from Roman mythology meaning 'spirit', either the internal driving force within all living things, or a specific spirit, or demon with supernatural powers. A similar term from Arabic legend is jinnee. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genius [Aug 2004]

Modern usage

A genius is a person imbued with distinguished mental prowess. This can manifest either as a foremost intellect, or as an outstanding creative talent. The term also applies to one who is a polymath, or someone skilled in many mental areas. The term does specifically apply to mental rather than athletic skills, although it is also used to denote the possession of a superior talent in any field; e.g., one may be said to have a genius for golf or for diplomacy.

In ancient Rome, the genius was the guiding or "tutelary" spirit of a person or indeed of an entire gens. A related term is genius loci, the spirit of a specific locale. In contrast, the internal driving force within all living things is the animus. A specific spirit, or daemon, may inhabit an image or icon, giving it supernatural powers.

A comparable term from Arabic lore is a djinn, often Anglicized as "genie". --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genius [Apr 2005]

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