Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fun & Frolic in the Baby Basket

There was once a baby born who was so remarkable that the gods themselves stared down at his cradle. He was called Heracles, and when huge snakes slithered into his crib to strangle him, he knotted and braided them as if they were pieces of string, and threw them out again.
For Heracles was strong -- stronger than you and I and a hundred others put together. Fortunately, he was also gentle and kind, so that his friends had nothing to fear from him. His schoolteacher made him promise never to touch an alcoholic drink, though. "If you were ever to get drunk, Heracles," the schoolmaster said, "Who knows what terrible thing you might do with that great strength of yours!"

Heracles, promised, and he truly meant to keep his promise. But then his friends all drank at parties, his family always had wine with their meals. It seemed foolish for Heracles to ask for fruit juice. So he was tempted to take just one glass of wine - and after that another - and another - and another. Soon he was roaring drunk, throwing punches in all directions. When the wine's work was done, Heracles' own family lay dead on the floor, and Heracles was an outcast hated by everyone and most of all by himself.
For his crime, he was condemned to serve King Eurystheus as a slave for 7 years. Eurystheus was a mean, spiteful man, whose kingdom was overrun by a great many problems, and he decided to set Heracles the 12 most dangerous tasks he could think of -- tasks that were to become known as the Twelve Labors of Heracles.
Sounds a lot like the 12 steps of AA, does it not?
Moral of story: Sip as you go.
Greek Myths: Geraldine McCaughrean. Illustration: Emma Chichester Clark


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