Monday, 19 May 2014
History - Helen and Hannibal and others too
An interesting thing you notice when learning ancient history is the number of people whose names start with the letter H.
Today we'll learn about a few of them. No doubt you can think of others.
We start with a Greek doctor called Hippocrates (460 - 357 BC), who studied bodies expertly and believed in proper healing based on science as it was limitedly known then. He invented the Hippocritical Oath which promised that he'd heal any hippopotamus regardless to the danger to himself. As there were no hippos in Greece his promise was never tested. So he healed hippies instead.
He believed in bleeding as a cure for most things. When a sick man visited him a quick punch on the nose followed by a nosebleed sorted him out. He also took samples from sick people like, their vomit, nose droppings, ear wax, tears and urine and tested it by tasting it. It is not clear what he discovered but no doubt he often had stomach ache.
Heraclitus (c. 535 – c. 475 BC) was a Greek philosopher who didn't like people in general. He was always sad and melancholy (face like a melon and body like a collie) and always cried in his beer in the pub. He was known as the "Weeping Philosopher"; and no doubt bored every one to death with his cheerful stories!
One day Heraclitus got sick with dropsy and no doctor could cure him. So he decided to cure himself by covering his body with cow manure and sitting in the sun for it to bake. This certainly did the trick. He died within a day.
Which goes to prove - when you're up to your neck in **** don't sit in public for all to see.
Helen of Troy - now listen carefully because this bit is a little confusing. Zeus the Greek god was chased by an eagle so he turned into a swan. Whilst he was a swan he hid with a woman called Leda and fell in love with her. With me so far?
Leda produced an egg from which Helen of Troy was born.
Helen then went on holiday to Paris (or is it with Paris?) and they had a great time.
Homer was a Greek author living around 850 BC and is thought to have written two outstanding books called the Iliad and the Odyssey. Unfortunately, opinion is divided as to whether Homer actually wrote both works; a bit like the debate about whether Shakespeare did actually write all that he wrote. After various attempts to contact the publishers to find out the truth it was discovered that they'd gone out of business. So we'll never resolve this mystery.
Hannibal (247 - 183/182/181 BC) was a Carthaginian military man who appears to have died three times. Either that or perhaps we don't know when he died. But die he did!
He is most famously remembered for marching an army which included elephants from Spain to Italy over a range of mountains known as The Pair of Knees and the Alps.
Whilst on the Alps he lost many elephants because he did not have skis big enough for them to wear. But the apres-ski parties were great fun.
He defeated the Romans in Italy because they had not seen elephants with skis before. After the battles he set up a travelling Circus with the elephants.
Hadrian was a Roman Emperor (76 AD - 138 AD) at the time the Romans conquered most of Britain up to the Northern borders with Scotland. there he built a great wall dividing the country from coast to coast.
The wall was 117 kilometers long and several portions still exist and are a great tourist attraction. It is so big that you can see the moon from there.
A few years back some archaeologists digging near the wall found a few spent match sticks and cigarette ends, proving that the Romans did smoke the same brands as we do now. They also found a cell-phone which was sent to a lab in London to find out whether it contains photos of the Romans all those years ago.
Finally, in this History Lesson of people whose names begin with the letter H we have to mention Heel.Now come along ... pay attention ... don't tell me you've never heard of Achilles Heel?
Apparently he was a demi-god, a hero of the Tojan War and the son of Thetis and Peleus. When he was a baby his mother dipped Achilles into the river Styx to make him immortal and invincible. She held him by his heel and dipped him right in; and that's how he got the name Achilles Heel. Since then he was invincible except of course for the bit of his heel which was not dipped in the water. He was killed by a Frenchman called Paris who shot him in the heel with an arrow. He was aiming for his back at the time but missed by shooting too low.
Now what is not clear is why his stupid mother had not dipped him totally into the river Styx. That way, not only would he have been totally invincible but her hand too would have been invincible. Can you imagine? Being able to pull out a pot of meat from a hot oven without the need for oven gloves. Or being the catcher in a game of baseball without needing those big gloves. I bet there are many things she could have done with an invincible hand.
For your homework this week I want you to write ten things you'd be able to do with an invincible hand.