Monday, September 29, 2008

fabula nova deum

A new tale of the gods.

A relic of the days of my youth has resurfaced, an anthology of "creative" short stories composed by 6th and 7th grade Verbal (advanced English) students c. 1998. Alas, the collection for my class remains missing, but there are plenty of stories with which to embarass my friends. Also among them is this μυθος, the tantalizing, imaginative creation of...well, not even I could do that to someone. The text is an exact transcript (excellent emphasis mine, though); the images are best-possible substitutes for the actual reproduction.

A sincere thanks to Shelly, for unearthing this gem.

Why Lockers are So Small

One day Zeus and Hera decided that Aphrodite should go down to earth and see how the human children got an education. They decided that she would be a sixth grader at Hammarskjold Middle School. Aphrodite absolutely hated the very idea of her going to a MORTAL school. She argued and argued but in the end (as parents always do) Zeus and Hera won the dispute. However Aphrodite was not done yet. The way she saw the situation, since she was a god, and was only going to that horrible school for one day, she would cause a huge ruckus. Aphrodite was determined to bring master chaos upon the school. What she was looking for was revenge.

The next day it was arranged that Aphrodite would go to school as a human teenager. She would wear baggy jeans and a tie-dye T-shirt. That way she would blend in with the rest of the mortals. Since Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty, she was the most beautiful of all the gods and goddesses (besides Hera). Although Aphrodite protested repeatedly the rest of the gods transformed her into a lovely looking young girl. She had very long blonde hair, big blue eyes, and she was medium height. Her hair was styled into an odango (see image). Her human name was to be Serena Serenity. Aphrodite was so determined to get back at her parents that she was ready to do anything. Aphrodite would do anything to aggravate them! However her parents expected her to rebel. Even they would not have liked to be reduced to a mortal for a day. So they tried to console her rage with many wondrous gifts. Some of these were a television, computers, and even a new CD set! Although nothing could console the screaming Aphrodite.

At that moment Demeter came in and asked what all of the commotion was about. Aphrodite told the entire story with no interruptions from either of the superior gods. When she was finished, Demeter exclaimed, "I think that this will be a wonderful experience for Persephone as well!" I think her mortal name will be Rini. Rini Serenity. She will be Aphrodite's younger sister. She will look just like her except Rini will have pink hair and red eyes. At that precise moment Persephone decided to enter. Demeter excitedly told her about adventure that she was to embark on the next day with Aphrodite. This goddess had the exact same reaction as the other, uncontrollable rage. Consequently, before she could say anything, Aphrodite told her that it was no use, and that they were being forced to go against their own will. She also told her that she had a plan. Aphrodite's plan was to find something that she children needed, and to make it harder to use.

The next day they were escorted to the school on Apollo's golden sun chariot. As they flew across the sky the felt the heat of the sun upon their backs. The young goddesses wanted to get to Hammarskjold, but they didn't. The goddesses wanted to get there so they could destroy something, and they did not because it was humiliating to be seen as a mortal.

Finally they were there. Everything was so exciting. Aphrodite and Persephone were so ecstatic that they barely noticed that very thing that they were looking for. The children were all running about slamming lockers, and trying to open them. There were even some bullies that came up behind some of the children, and spun their locks while they were being opened. It was chaotic. They both laughed their heads off. As they were laughing, all of the heads one by one slowly turned to stare at them. Soon the goddesses realized this, but by then it was too late, and the hall had grown quiet. They realized that they were giving themselves away so they both said, "Inside Joke!" Then slowly everyone went back to his or her own business, and they let out a huge sigh. Then a tremendous light bulb went off in their heads. "The lockers!" they screamed. It was so thrilling that they had found what they were looking for.

The rest of the day dragged on, class after class. Then finally after seven hours of hearing about the innovations and discoveries that their parents and friends had created, and found, the final bell rang. They went out of sight and were picked up speedily by Apollo. They were on their way home!

Then, just as the building was fading out of sight, the goddesses bestowed their terrible gift upon the world. The gift of small lockers. Childrens and teens everywhere were devastated. They now only had small lockers, with tiny boxes on top.

When the got home Aphrodite and Persephone's parents were burning with anger. Steam was coming out of their ears. As soon as they came into the room, they were about to be yelled at like they never had been before.

What did you two do? You are in big trouble now. The goddesses played it cool. They said that they did not think what they did was that terrible. They stated their side of the story. Zeus and all the other gods and goddesses involved realized that sending them off without their approval was wrong and unkind. The gods and goddesses apologized right then and there and politely requested that the goddesses take away their gift. It was only then that they remembered that once a god's gift has been given, it cannot be taken away. They said that no punishment would be brought upon them for their treachery. However, they made the goddesses bestow another gift (The school day ended at four o'clock then). Zeus made them shorten the school day to 2:57 p.m. That way it was fair to everyone.

May it live on forever in the Greco-Roman corpus.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

quod legebam

What I've been reading.

Michael Dietler Chap. 9-Iron Age of the Western Mediterranean p.275
For many years, a concept known as “Hellenization” served as the primary explanatory framework for understanding the consequences of trade and cross-cultural consumption that constituted the essence of the pre-Roman colonial encounter in Mediterranean France. Initially, this concept conflated both a description of the process of social and cultural change in the colonial situation and its explanation. It was axiomatically assumed that, even in the absence of a coercive imperial domination of the Roman kind, imitation or absorption of Greek culture (or that of other Mediterranean “civilizations”) by “barbarian” societies would have been a natural and inevitable result of contact. Hence, the focus of analysis was to chart the gradual clumsy progress of this self-evident phenomenon…The roots of this flawed interpretive paradigm and untenable assumptions of the inherent superiority and attractiveness of Greek and Phoenician culture and the one-way flow of transformative influences, can be traced to a tradition of Hellenophilia that had a powerful influence on the structure of cultural capital in modern European societies.
Whoops...our bad.

That is from Scheidel, Morris, and Saller’s excellent Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World, which has pleasantly consumed much of the last week for me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

autumnus adest...

Autumn is here...

and that means the beginning of a new semester. For some, it may mark an initial foray into the lingua latina. For others, the lazy otium of summer was no time for digging through grammars or perusing ancient texts.

Fortunately for both first-time discipuli and those scholars to whom the sun beckoned too often, Chris Jones at LatinLanguage has got us covered. His tips, here and here, ought help all get back on the right track for a successful school year.