Tuesday, May 25, 2010


A Mock History Examination

Cuthbert Bede (i.e. Edward Bradley), The Further Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green, an Oxford Under-Graduate (London: H. Ingram & Co., 1854), pp. 9-10:
1. Draw a historical parallel (after the manner of Plutarch) between Hannibal and Annie Laurie.
2. What internal evidence does the Odyssey afford, that Homer sold his Trojan war-ballads at three yards an obolus?
3. Show the strong presumption there is, that Nox was the god of battles.
4. State reasons for presuming that the practice of lithography may be traced back to the time of Perseus and the Gorgon's head.
5. In what way were the shades on the banks of the Styx supplied with spirits?
6. Show the probability of the College Hornpipe having been used by the students of the Academia; and give passages from Thucydides and Tennyson in support of your answer.
7. Give a brief account of the Roman Emperors who visited the United States, and state what they did there.
8. Show from the redundancy of the word γᾶς in Sophocles, that gas must have been used by the Athenians; also state, if the expression οἱ Βάρβαροι would seem to signify that they were close shavers.
9. Show from the words 'Hoc erat in votis' (Sat. VI., Lib. II.,) that Horace's favourite wine was hock, and that he meant to say 'he always voted for hock.'
10. Draw a parallel between the Children in the Wood and Achilles in the Styx.
11. When it is stated that Ariadne, being deserted by Theseus, fell in love with Bacchus, is it the poetical way of asserting that she took to drinking to drown her grief?
12. Name the prima donnas who have appeared in the operas of Virgil and Horace since the 'Virgilii Opera,' and 'Horatii Opera' were composed.
For an answer to the first question, see "Hannibal and Anna Laurie," by Prof. Geschichtsmacher, of the University of Weissnichtwo, in Kottabos 3 (1881) 138-140.

The Kottabos article is of course a joke, but as if in answer to the second half of the eighth question ("state, if the expression οἱ Βάρβαροι would seem to signify that they were close shavers"), Robert Hendrickson, QPB Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, 2nd ed. (New York: Facts on File, 2004), p. 53, in all seriousness makes the following absurd suggestion about the origin of the word barbarian:
Barba means "beard" in Latin, and when the Romans called hirsute foreigners barbarians they were strictly calling them "bearded men," though the word shortly came to mean, rightly or wrongly, "rude, uncivilized people."

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