Wednesday, August 9, 2017

TFBT: The Child and Cur Cafe

My youngest son came home from elementary school one day and marched promptly into my office.  They were studying Greek mythology.  He announces, “I think I want to do a report on the Mother of Monsters.”  As most of you know I’ve studied Greek mythology all my life.  What maybe you don’t know is that every life-lessons shared with my sons was punctuated with a myth or fairy tale to bring home the point.  I had been waiting for this moment my whole life.  He was asking me about Echidna. With a step to my bookshelf and moment’s thought, I handed him Graves (for the text) and Bulfinch (for the pictures).  After finding the right page in Graves, he was off to work on the outline.  We will ask Hesiod to introduce Echidna to you. 

"Ceto bore Phorcys another unmanageable monster like nothing human nor like the immortal gods either, in a hollow cave. This was the divine and haughty Echidna, and half of her is a Nymphe with a fair face and eyes glancing, but the other half is a monstrous serpent, terrible, enormous and squirming and voracious, there in earth's secret places…Echidna, a Nymphe who never dies, and all her days she is ageless."  (Hesiod, Theogony 295 ff)   
As to her children, or as my son’s report called them; The Brood of Echidna 

“Echidne bore a dreadful brood to Typhon: namely, Cerberus, a three-headed Hound of Hell; the Hydra, a many-headed water-serpent living at Lerna; the Chimaera, a fire-breathing goat with lion’s and serpent’s body; and Orthrus, the two-headed hound of Geryon: who lay with his own mother and begot on her the Sphinx and the Nemean Lion.” (Robert Graves, The Greek Myths)

What would Echidna say about her children?  Most of us are proud parents.  She would probably say;

"I am so proud of my children.  The eldest works for Lord Hades and his dread Queen, keeping the riff-raff out of the Underworld, one guards his Uncle Geryon's kingdom.  One has a bite so venomous that it can give a god immortal pain.  One breathes fire and got hired to guard some Anatolian kingdom.  The Lion rules in Nemea in his own right. And (my favorite) the Sphinx works for Queen Jocasta keeping the riff-rafc out of Thebes.  They were a handful growing up but thank God I had Hera to help with them."

Hopefully you have a similar report on your children and dogs.  Please tell us all about them. 



PS.  I have a pot of mulled wine going as the weekly special, but order anything you want. 


  1. Echidna's report is excellent! Reading it, one can feel pity that most of her children were murdered.

    In a similar line, coming home at the end of the 1st term last year, my elder son said cheerfully:
    "Mom, I have only three 2s!" (the non-passing grade).
    I first hoped that they were current grades, but they were term grades! I felt quite strained the 2nd term.

    My "parental proud" report:
    Both my sons attend school and have successfully graduated all their school years, so far. Some teachers frown at my kids (and their tendency to be unruly and to submit blank sheets), but this is just because they - the teachers - are narrow-minded! They wrote 3 non-passing term grades to my elder son. I consider this a sinister plot by the school administration to make us change school in the middle of the decisive 7th grade. But we did not give in, and finally the school realized that they will get rid of the boy only by giving him a diploma! At the national English exam in may, he scored the maximum 100 points. He got into a high school, and his baby brother is transitioning to middle school. (Gods help us all in September.) My elder son and I have just finished our study of Jesus' life, and I believe that he will not write again in any school test (as he did 3 years ago) that Jesus Christ was a Byzantine emperor.

  2. Maya,

    Glad to here things are working out. If you hadn't guessed this is a mock up for next fridays cafe at Kosmos society. I will have more to add then. They might publish my Nereid Monument article too