Theseus was the son of King Aegeus of Athens. But when he was a small boy, he did not live with his father. his father had wanted his mother to let him stay in her home with her till he grew up. So Theseus lived with his mother for many years and he did not know his father.

When he grew up and became a brave young man, his mother asked him to go to his grandfather and help him. Theseus then left his mother's home and set out alone on a long journey to Athens. He walked from morning till night, for he wished to see his father very much.

When Athens was not very far away, Theseus met with a terrible man called Procrustes, who had a house in a lonely place. When he saw a traveler, Procrustes always invited him into his house and offered him food and drink and rest. But no one left his house alive.

In the house, Procrustes had an iron bed. He said that it just fitted anyone who lay on it. It certainly did. For, as soon as the traveler fell asleep on the bed, iron arms came down and held him fast to the bed. Then if the stranger was longer than the bed, Procrustes cut off his legs with a big sharp knife; if he was shorter than the bed, the bad man pulled the traveler's legs so hard to fit the length that the poor man was soon dead.

But Procrustes could not deceive Theseus. He was cleverer than the other travelers. When Procrustes led Theseus to the terrible iron bed, the young prince pretended that he did not know how to lie in it. The wicked man then lay down on the bed himself to show Theseus what to do. When Theseus saw this he sprang upon Procrustes, and taking him by surprise, tied his arms and legs to the bed.

Then Theseus treated Procrustes just as Procrustes had treated so many other, and killed the wicked man who had killed many poor travelers. People thanked Theseus, for they could now go along the road with no fear.

In statistics, Procrustes analysis is a method used to attempt to match one configuration of points onto another, and describe how well they fit.

This analysis acquired its name because one data set is stretched, squashed and twisted until it resembles the second - as with Procrustes and his bed.

This technique can be used with multidimensional scaling to attempt to examine the relationship between, for example, similar data acquired from multiple sources, and appears to be frequently cited in papers related to examining the tastes of groups of people. However, it has a wide range of potential applications.

Useful paper references for this technique include Everitt and Rabe-Hesketh (1997) and Krzanowski (1988)

Pro*crus"tes (?) n. [L., fr. Gr. , fr. to beat out, to stretch; forward + to strike.] Gr. Antiq.

A celebrated legendary highwayman of Attica, who tied his victims upon an iron bed, and, as the case required, either stretched or cut of their legs to adapt them to its length; -- whence the metaphorical phrase, the bed of Procrustes.


© Webster 1913.

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