Geek Trivia

The Last Performance Of An Entertainer’s Career Is Known As A?

Death Trumpet
Closing Act
Swan Song
The First Side-Scrolling Video Game Was?

Answer: Swan Song

“Swan song” is a metaphorical phrase that is used to describe the final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement (and in modern times, a final theatrical/dramatic appearance or final work/accomplishment). Although firmly cemented in the English language for centuries, the premise of the phrase with regard to actual swans (though not the origin) has been debated all along.

There was a long standing belief, reaching all the way back to antiquity with the writings of Ancient Greek scholars and philosophers (and widely accepted as fact in Ancient Greek culture) that swans were mute (or certainly limited in their range) and that all of their musical harmony was stored up for a final hauntingly beautiful song they sung as a sort of final death note.

Despite the long held belief that swans sang their own complex funeral song, the story is mostly myth and hyperbole built on a tiny grain of truth. Most likely, the origin of the Greek belief (which has been spread throughout the Western world via poetry and cultural references) stems from the migratory pattern of whooper swans, whose winter migration includes large swathes of the Mediterranean (including Ancient Greece).

Modern researchers have noted that whooper swans do have a bugle like call and that upon death, their final exhalations (due to both their natural song and the structure of an additional tracheal loop within their sternums) are a drawn-out series of notes. While it might not be a full funeral dirge, it would certainly have been notable to the Ancient Greeks who viewed swans in high esteem and as a symbol of the god Apollo.