I ask because in anatomy and fitness the muscle groups can defined in three categories for a given workout:
Agonist(the main muscle being worked),
Antagonist(the muscle group that would work the opposing direction (think bicep/tricep)), and
assisters(stabilizing muscles that are being worked, but not primarily so).
Does it not stand to reason that this naming would follow this metaphor into literature where the
Agonistis the character who we are to agonize along with as they struggle, and the
Antagonistis the character who works directly against that struggle?
My suspicion is that at some point someone determined that the opposite of
Antagonistshould be the
Protagonistand the naming just sort of stuck. What is a
tagonistanyway? and how do I know if I am
An..?amiright? Of course I could be dead wrong and someone else can tell me that the roots of these words are not at all what I think they are.
Anyone..? Anyone..? Bueller..?
I am going to do something I normally would never do: answer a question which I believe should be closed for lack of research. I am doing this mainly because Greek and Latin roots and prefixes are often confused, and this should be clarified.
In this case, “protagonist” comes from the Greek protagoniste…
1670s, “principal character in a story, drama, etc.,” from Greek protagonistes “actor who plays the chief or first part,”
“one who contends with another,” 1590s, from French antagoniste (16c.) or directly from Late Latin antagonista, from Greek antagonistes “
Many people confuse the Greek and Latin prefixes.
In this case, the prefix is from the Greek protos, not the Latin pro. Also, there can be confusion between the Greek anti, and the Latin contra, which usually appears as the prefix “con” in English.