What if Dave Barry Was A ______?
Dave Barry is a now-retired weekly humor columnist for the Miami Herald. He took elements from daily life in Miami, as well as general American society. Such writings are not uncommon in contemporary society. We don’t, however, have many documents that portray humor-based writing from ancient civilizations. Outside of Greek comedies, not much humor is to be found. I think it unlikely that people didn’t satirize elements of their societies, and so the purpose of this paper is to try and recreate what ancient humor columnists might have made fun of. Due to the lack of concrete evidence about how exactly life was like and the relatively large gaps in between historical details, some liberty has been taken in putting together elements of history that were not actually contemporary to each other, but no doubt the individual instances would have been treated much the same. With that introduction:
What if Dave Barry Was an Egyptian?
My wife and I recently decided to look into moving. Apparently, sharing the bed with crocodiles that crawl up from the river is getting to be too much for her, especially with a kid on the way. I suspect it’s largely just one of those weird pregnancy cravings, but I’m willing to humor her, which is why the other day we took a trip up the Nile to see what we could find.
The first city we stopped in was actually quite nice. A thriving economy, good access to administrative services, plenty of flood-plain--it had everything you’d want in a capital city. We got around talking to the residents, and it turns out there were actually plenty of job openings to be found. Sounds like they’ve got some big construction project going on that they need a lot of laborers. Unfortunately, to get the job, you have to be a slave, and that doesn’t exactly feed the family. Besides, I was told they were using some sort of wooden framework to try and build the huge pyramid that the king wants. I had to laugh at that. How on earth could wood hold the weight of that much rock? Even kids playing in the sand know that it’s easier to build a ramp than to lift something straight up. You have to wonder where they come up with these fantastic ideas.
Next, we came to a decent city, and they actually had a really good plot of land for sale. Far enough back from the river to not get washed away, but close enough to have a nice backyard pool during the floods. I was all for it, but my wife was a little leery of the hippopotamuses out in the river. I told her they were perfectly safe, and even went out to pet one to demonstrate it to her. I don’t think my running back screaming like a girl after it began to charge did anything to reassure her. Of course, I wasn’t convinced to leave until I met the people next door. The father of the family was actually a really good guy, despite being a priest. His kid, though, was absolutely out there. He kept claiming that some god had talked to him and told him that he shouldn’t be sacrificed. As if. What would the gods do without young innocent hearts to munch on? Boy was he loony. I couldn’t live next to him.
So, the search for a new house goes on. If you have any openings in your area, let me know. Right now I have to go feed the crocodiles so they stop gnawing on my legs.
What if Dave Barry Was an Athenian?
So if you’ve been awake at all the last week, you’ve probably heard about the trial of Socrates. His student Plato’s kind of made a big deal about it, going as far as to record an account of the trial and certain events leading up to it. One conversation he records between Socrates and Euthyphro and how Socrates questions Euthyphro to try and understand the definition for piety. Euthyphro, by the way, utterly failed at proving himself a religious expert. Everybody knows that in order to be a religious expert you have to say “no” to logic.
The trial ended today. By a mere 30 votes, Socrates was sentenced to death. So few votes can be the turning point to cut a thread short. Of course, even worse than that, Socrates was only 30 votes away from being fed free the rest of his life. How could they even consider that? Don’t these people realize what would happen as a result? All the free food I get would be split in half between us, and then where would we be as a society? It wasn’t 30 votes between life and death; it was 30 votes for one man to die so that an entire civilization (read that: me) could live.
Word is, though, that Plato plans to continue in Socrates’s work. He’s even planning on forming a school so people can be formally instructed instead of just following a guy around like a dog chasing a squirrel. It’s kind of a scary thought. Instead of one bratty old man roaming free, we’ll have a whole generation of bratty youngsters running around. Now they’ll start questioning things like whether or not we actually need humor columnists, and what good that Parthenon is doing standing empty all the time. Next thing you know, and we’ll be back to the days of barbarism and tyranny. We need to stand up and take a stand against this sort of behavior. Well, you do. I have to go pick up my shipment of food.
What if Dave Barry Was a Roman?
Last week, I decided to take the wife and kids to a gladiator fight in the Flavian Amphitheater. I thought it would be a good opportunity to spend some quality time with my family while watching other human beings do their very best to rip each other to shreds. Plus, it was a tax deductible expense (our local tax collector was involved in one the fights that day; we wanted to heartily cheer on his opponents in hopes that he would be killed and unable to collect our taxes).
I’d heard that a Roman was not a true Roman until he’d been to an event in the Flavian. I never realized that being a Roman involved so much standing in lines and confusion over where you were to supposed to sit. Virgil never talked about standing around in a crowd trying to get to where you can sit around in a crowd in The Aeneid. I don’t recall Livy telling any stories about trying to differentiate between archway XLII and XLIII and how heroic people are who confuse them. I guess I must have missed those chapters. If only they would print the tickets a little clearer so I could tell if I was supposed to sit in archway XLV section CXX seat XIV or if it was archway CXX section XIV seat XLV. If they don’t have the budget to make that change, why do I have to spend a week’s worth of wages to get in?
Of course, I don’t want to complain too much. The Flavian really does have some excellent features, and a very proud history, almost as proud a history as the sport which it displays. Gladiator fights date back to the Horatii brothers, and their famous battle with the Curiatii. Ever since their shining example, we’ve been trying to prove our true manhood to each other by seeing who was the best at beating the others into a pulp. With that kind of tradition, it’s no wonder the Republic fell.
My family and I really did have a great time at the Flavian Amphitheater, though. It was a great venue, once you got past the feeling that it was going to collapse at any second because there isn’t a solid wall in the whole building. We enjoyed watching the animals they brought in, and the lions were fun to watch too. Next time you have some money to burn (and by some, I mean more than I’m going to get for writing this), you should take your family and go watch a fight at the Flavian. Just don’t blame me if you can’t find your seat.
What if Dave Barry Was a Serf in Middle Age England?
King Alfred has done it again. He lead hundreds of our brother, fathers, and husbands to glory against the Viking invaders over the weekend. Praises be to him. I think he has the talent and ability to lead the whole country to greater heights. Or deeper depths, depending on whether we’ve paid our indulgences or not. Alfred really does a great job leading our soldiers into battle. I just wish he was slightly better at leading them back out of battle, but that may be asking too much of him.
In all reality, I’m not sure why we need to fight the Vikings at all. Sure, I’ve heard the stories of the sacking of Rome, and I know they’re pagans. I’m just not sure I’d be so quick to label them as barbarians. A couple of weeks ago, a band came through town here. I met one, by the name of Olaf the Oaf-icious. We had a nice conversation. He told me about his family, and how many people he needed to kill in order to be sure to feed his family. He sounded just like any other low class person, struggling to make ends meet and doing whatever it takes to provide a good life for his family. Plus, he spared my life and killed Joe up the street, so he’s got pretty good judgment, I’d say. I’m actually thinking of starting up a collection to help supplement his pillaging. If you’d like to help support Olaf and his family, go to the nearest consignment station and join the army. That way, Olaf will be able to kill you and get a bigger bonus. Any size donation accepted, as long as they can wear a helmet and wield a sword.
Of course, there’s always the chance that Alfred will someday be victorious against the Vikings, leaving the door open to conquest by another group. That’s the problem with living on an island: even if you repel people from one shore, there’s plenty of other coastline to land a ship on. Makes you wonder why we don’t have a stronger navy, the better to repel would-be invaders. Maybe Alfred gets seasick.