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It’s All Greek to Me! by John Mole

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Labour of Herakles

Now I knew I wasn’t going to get our money back, I launched myself on the task of rebuilding the house with an enthusiasm that took me by surprise. As anyone knows who has moved house, you don’t feel you belong until you muck about with it, paint the walls, get a new kitchen. In this case muck was the right word. The first job was to clear out the goat dung.

Ever mindful of the opportunities for indoctrination, I pointed out round the family supper table in Athens that Herakles – or Hercules as he was known to the Romans – had a similar task. As one of his twelve labours he had to muck out the cowsheds of a king called Augeas in return for a tenth of the king’s enormous herd. He diverted a river through them and did the job ...

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