Monday, 14 April 2014


In ancient times it was widely accepted that Homer wrote the two Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey.  Nowadays it has been suggested they were written by different people or groups.  However, another poem was ascribed to Homer which nowadays hardly anyone would think Homeric.  This was the zoological epic Batrachomyomachia, the Battle Between the Frogs and the Mice.

It is an amusing piece.  A Mouse had escaped the unwanted attentions of a Weasel and, needing to recover himself, stopped by a pond to drink.  Here he was descried by a Frog, who invited him to come for a visit to Frog Castle.  To do this, the Mouse hopped on the Frog's back and the Frog swam away.  Then, swimming nearby, the Frog was horrified to see an Otter and he dove into the depths of the water, forgetting about his passenger, who struggled but drowned.  Another Mouse on the shore witnessed all this and betook himself to Troxartes, the King of the Mice, who declared war on the Frogs.

The gods decided that they would take no part in the affray, but look on.  (In the Iliad, they had often intervened in the Trojan War).

When battle took place the Mice won and the Frogs would have been extirpated, but Zeus sent Crabs which chased off the Mice, whose weapons could not penetrate their shells.  Thus the conflict ended.

If you are familiar with the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Pirates of Penzance, you may remember that the Major-General sings, "I know the Croaking Chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes".

The Frogs by Aristophanes was a comedy produced in ancient Athens and, if the above line ever made you wonder how the Croaking Chorus went, it was, 
       Brek-ek-ek-coax,coax, coax.

Easy to remember.


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