Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Who, pray, is....?


Yes, it looks like an ancient Greek name, female.... but rather odd in form, and utterly unfamiliar. Is it perhaps just an extravagant mis-spelling of 'Erinyes'??!!

I took part in a trivia quiz last night. My first in a long, long time. (Well, OK, actually it was only my first in 5 or 6 weeks - but before that, it was a long, LONG time!) Much to my surprise and exultation, my team won. (Well, OK, we didn't quite win officially - in that there was a superfluous 'buzzer round' play-off with the second-placed team at the end, in which we were royally abused by both Fate and the quizmaster...... gripe, gripe, gripe. But, you know, morally, WE WON.)

This improbable success was largely down to a first round on literature, in which there was an optional 'specialist subject' section of frightful trickiness - having to identify the 'odd men out', the 5 bogus characters from a list of 30 or so appearing in..... either 'Romeo & Juliet' or 'The Canterbury Tales' or 'The Iliad'. Since I wasn't confident of getting more than 3 out of 5 on either the Shakespeare or the Chaucer, I had to dig deep into my buried memories of undergraduate study of Classics..... but I could only come up with 4 out of 5 ('London' was a mark for everyone!). I eventually decided that Eurynaes - if it were really a name at all - must be a character from The Odyssey (Nausicaa's mum, perhaps??). Well, we got 5 out of 5. Which was considerably more than anyone else. (I think we might have been the only team to take on the Homer question. Most of the others attempted the Chaucer, and suffered for it.) And that section turned out to be worth DOUBLE marks. Woo-hoo!!!

That helped to give us a commanding lead from the get-go, a lead which our somehow slightly-less-formidable-than-usual rivals were never quite able to overhaul.

I won't let it go to my head.

I suffered one of the great salutary lessons in quizzing many years ago, a dire warning against succumbing to too much pride or ambition in regard to these silly little competitions.

During my teacher training year at the University of Durham, I discovered that quizzing was BIG in the pubs in those parts. One evening, I took a bunch of my fellow trainee teachers to try out the quiz at my local, The Loves. We won. This was obviously not supposed to happen. The quizmaster found a way to dock us a point, leaving us tied with the resentful resident champion team. The tie-break question was: "How many rivers were there in the Greek Underworld?"

Three of us were Classicists..... and none of us had a bloody clue! (Though I really think that whatever answer we came up with would not have been acknowledged as the 'right' one: the purpose of this exercise was to put the insolent intruders in their place, and reaffirm the old world order.)

To this day, I still don't really know. It depends if you count Phlegethon - which is a river of fire.

And again, is Lethe really a river, in the watery sense? A river of Valium, maybe??

The first time this bizarre thought occurred to me, I got Boney M stuck in my brain for the rest of the day.

By the River of Valium,
There we sat down.
Yea, and we slept,
And we forgot about Zion.

Oh, dear - it's happening again. Must.... get..... that...... annnoying...... tune..... OUT..... of...... my...... head!! Aaaaaaaaahhh!!!!

No comments: