Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day History Lesson from Old Herodatus - Who's Happy?

Happy Father's Day Dads!  I hope you are happy . . .well maybe Dads in Boston might be really . . .pleased, after power playing the Mighty Blackhawks in OT last night.  Pleased, not happy.

Who's happy?  Me.

Why?  I have three kids on the edge of all grow'd up ( 18-27), all gainfully employed, almost out of the house . . .almost.   I have a couple of nickels in savings and enough for the bills in checking.  I have a job that I love these past forty years and remain, I do not know how, in good health.

My kids asked the Hallmark question, " Dad. . . .serious;y; What  do you want for Father's Day?"

I rejoined, "What could you give that I do not already possess?"

They shuddered,  " He's off on his Mr. Hickey act."

"Beloved Fruit of my Loins, Silence and sit!  Long before cable TV, Smart phones and Apps, when Hawks tickets were stocking stuffers for the children of working men, I taught scores of children to read and write and so doing learn the common thread of the Humanities, Faith, and Service," I prologue'd. To continue, " One text I used with my students was Herodatus' Histories.

" That black book with the yellow pages you got in your Dad John in the basement?"

" That very text."

" You gonna talk normal?"

" Not a chance of it.  Book One of that ancient manuscript translated by Aubery de Selincourt, tells of the great king Croesus of the island power of Sardis, Croesus ( like CREESUS in his panst) was said to be the richest king alive.  We, or some of us, say one is as rich as Croesus.  A wise man by the name of Solon of Athens, not yet a great world power, visited Croesus and wowed the crowd royal with his stories and insights.  Croesus asked the much travelled gent, who would be the happiest man alive .  Here is the passage from Herodatus -

 So Solon, . . . .came to Croesus at Sardis.
 Having there arrived he was entertained as a guest by Croesus in the king's palace; and afterwards, on the third or fourth day, at the bidding of Croesus his servants led Solon round to see his treasuries; and they showed him all things, how great and magnificent they were: and after he had looked upon them all and examined them as he had occasion, Croesus asked him as follows: "Athenian guest, much report of thee has come to us, both in regard to thy wisdom and thy wanderings, how that in thy search for wisdom thou hast traversed many lands to see them; now therefore a desire has come upon me to ask thee whether thou hast seen any whom thou deemest to be of all men the most happy."
 This he asked supposing that he himself was the happiest of men; but Solon, using no flattery but the truth only, said: "Yes, O king, Tellos the Athenian." And Croesus, marvelling at that which he said, asked him earnestly: "In what respect dost thou judge Tellos to be the most happy?"
 And he said: "Tellos, in the first place, living while his native State was prosperous, had sons fair and good and saw from all of them children begotten and living to grow up; and secondly he had what with us is accounted wealth, and after his life a most glorious end: for when a battle was fought by the Athenians at Eleusis against the neighbouring people, he brought up supports and routed the foe and there died by a most fair death; and the Athenians buried him publicly where he fell, and honoured him greatly."
"My son, what did Herodatus say to you?"

"Nothing, Wasn't that talks between Croesus and Solon?"

" Yes, as recorded and presented by Herodatus.  Now, what does History, from the Father of History, say to you?"

" A bunch of random stuff that happened."

" Indeed."

"How about that? Now, ask me again, what I could possibly ask for  more that I do not already possess?"

The trio of babes smiled , " We got you a gift certificate from B Dubs."

I could not be more pleased.

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