Sunday, January 22, 2006

TRYING NEAIRA by Debra Hamel

There are two possible origins for my surname (actually it is my husband's name but since I am on the cusp of officially being a 'Dudman' longer than I was ever a 'Jenkins' it now feels like my name too). One origin of the name is 'Keeper of the Snails' the other is 'the cuckolded one'. I have decided to go with the 'Keeper of the Snails' version for obvious reasons.

Having finished Debra Hamel's book TRYING NEAIRA I can report that being the cuckolded one in ancient Greece could be entertaining. In fact Ms Hamel suggests that some of the cuckolded ones probably went out of their way to encourage cuckolding so they could exact revenge. The most interesting (though least mercenary) involved a radish, and, as Ms Hamel explains this was 'not the dainty red salad component one finds nowadays in the produce aisle, but rather a much larger variety of the vegetable - an instrument of sufficient proportion for a cuckolded husband to effectively register his displeasure.' Probably, by now, you can guess what happened to the unfortunate legume, and I shan't go further than that here - but will just say that the term 'radishing', which is a verb I had never come across before, now has eye-wateringly hilarious connotations in the Hodmandod household.

TRYING NEAIRA is that rare sort of book that informs and entertains in equal measure. For the scholar it is a well-written, well-researched and well-referenced account of an episode in ancient history. For the general reader it is a type of court room drama with a twist - as in a court the evidence is gradually exposed and examined thereby revealing the motivations and lives of prosecutors and defenders - and the twist is that this is all happening over 300 years BC.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since snails are hermaphrodites and since there is no female equivalent of the word "cuckold", is it technically possible for a snail to be cuckolded? They do have horns, of course. And they are partial to the odd radish. Could be a story there. Hopefully, a radishgly beautiful one.

Tue Jan 24, 01:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point, Adrian.

Oh dear, I feel a 101 word short story coming on - unless you beat me to it.

Tue Jan 24, 04:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why do I have to go to school?" it thought, riding over the smally-furrowed ground with the pace of an unmasted galleon devoid of gold.
"I have learnt the essentials: don't get eaten by those born earlier; vegetables are good; beer is bad. Birds are very bad. What more can there be?" Breasting a pebble that his horns declared climbable but with edges indiscernible to his myopic eyes, he joined the slither of his cohort. It peered at the antique before them waving its eyestalks. "What are we doing?" it asked its neighbour.
"Sexual Politics for Snails 101".
Its heart sank.

Tue Jan 24, 06:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant, Anon...Thank you.

Tue Jan 24, 08:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh the Welshie bit of you is definitely the Jenkins bit!

Snails being hermaphrodite is a fact that has escaped me for years. Earthworms I knew about. Snails, I didn't.

Keep the blog going, please. I hit upon it by a chance google search and I've been reading since! I now have you page marked.

All the best,
from another anon one!

Wed Jan 25, 02:11:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you 'Another Anon' - that does me a power of good, I must say, very kind indeed. Most days I ask myself why am I doing this - and I can't think of a good answer, really - except that I enjoy it.

Wed Jan 25, 02:27:00 pm  

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