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From the Mouths of Babes (Just for Fun)

February 4, 2011

In May 1998, two weeks after finishing my comprehensive exams for the PhD, my fiance, my sister and I drove the 3-tiered wedding cake to my wedding – an hour’s drive over rural roads – in the back of a 1988 Toyota Corolla hatchback.  Overwhelmed with nerves in general, which coalesced around the fate of the cake, I spent the entire ride telling my long-suffering loved ones the story of the Spartans at Thermopylae, as recounted by Herodotus. (Nobody died at the wedding, and the cake was delicious.)

Last Friday night, when my children asked for a(nother) bedtime story, my husband (misremembering what has become a family legend; he’s an engineer)  said, “Tell them about the Peloponnesian War!”

My son (4) said, “The Pelopo-cheese-ian War??” and we were off, ultimately devising a story in which the Spartans brought the cheese and the Athenians the crackers. (We didn’t think to add, but a friend did, that the Athenians had to return “with their crackers, or on them!”) My daughter (7) is contemplating creating a comic book on the subject.

I told the story on Facebook and a friend from graduate school promptly replied that well into his teen years he himself had believed that the Battle of Salamis somehow involved cured meats.  Friends, what deep misunderstandings about the classical past did you hold as a young person?

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