wineshop everyone was teasing the mild-mannered stranger who wore the gray
cloak of a Greek philosopher. The usual run of philosophers are much-traveled,
sharp as needles, knowing as vultures; but this one seemed ignorant and
artless, a real peasant.
name, where do you spring from?" asked Scorpus, the charioteer. "Anyone
would think you'd been asleep a thousand years and just woken up!"
Myconos, the Aegean island," replied the stranger. "It's not very big,
but quite famous. Why, the Giants who attacked Heaven are buried beneath our
granite rocks, which the god Hercules threw at them. And we show the tomb of
Ajax, too—a Trojan War hero."
then began to quote Homer, but Scorpus cut him short. "You're not a real
Myconian," he said accusingly. "Can't be. Look at your thatch! Myconi
calva omnis juventas—All Myconians are bald as pumpkins, even boys!"
blushed. "I'm afraid you're right," he said. "My family, I confess,
originated in Athens. Political refugees. This thick hair does make me somewhat
conspicuous at home. But I have the most beautifully bald wife and
He spoke in such
earnest tones that we could not help liking him. "Ever traveled
before?" I asked, when the laughter had subsided.
ago I attended a course in philosophy at Athens. From there I went to the
Olympic Games: an unforgettable experience! As Homer says...."
Homer! Who cares about Homer here? Did you see good sport at Olympia?"
"Sir, it was
fabulous!" The philosopher's voice rose with enthusiasm. "A score of
events crammed into five days! No less than 40,000 visitors must have gathered
there from all over the Greek world! We put up tents and picnicked beside the
river. First, the sacrifices and the classification of athletes; then a contest
of trumpeters. A little fellow from Sicily ought to have won, but the judges
disqualified him after an objection; it seems he had once served a prison term
for striking a priest. Only freeborn Greeks of good character may compete at
Olympia. But, by Jove, how he blew—what sweet thunder! Next, to whet our
appetite, the boys' races! The third day, the day of champions—the 200-yard
sprint, the quarter-mile and three-mile foot race! Classical wrestling! A race
of armed soldiers carrying shields-and spears; our Myconian champion came in
third. Hard-glove boxing. Freestyle wrestling. Magnificent! The competitors had
trained for years."
races!" scoffed Bufotilla, Scorpus' green-eyed girl friend, blowing her
nose daintily with thumb and forefinger and wiping them on my cloak. "I
can't imagine a drearier spectacle."