Sometimes I miss teaching

This is from my 2004 teaching journal:

Yesterday, I found myself relating the events of the House of Atreus as if it were the plot of a soap opera: “King Atreus whacked his brother’s kids, all except . . . Aegisthus! Meanwhile, Atreus had two sons, Agamemnon and Menelaus, and they married sisters – Clytemnestra and Helen. Now Agamememnon and Clytemnestra had Iphigenia and Orestes, and Agamemnon whacked Iphigenia in order to get a fair wind for the Greek fleet . . . and Clytemnestra never forgave him. Never. Meanwhile, Paris has stolen Menelaus’s wife, who is Clytemnestra’s sister, and Agamemnon and Menelaus go off to Troy for ten years to get her back. There, Paris’s brother Hector is whacked, and then Paris, and Helen marries somebody else. . . who is whacked . . . and marries somebody else . . . who is whacked . . . and then the war in Troy is over, and Menelaus finds Helen, and . . .

And the boys shout, “. . . Whacks her!”

“No,” I say, “They sail off together and live happily ever after.” And all the boys look disappointed, but I continue, drawing arrows all over the board and crossing out the people who get killed, “Meanwhile, Agamemnon heads home, with Cassandra . . . who is Paris’s sister . . . and his wife Clytemnestra, meanwhile, has been hanging out with . . . (dramatic pause) Aegisthus!”

The boys go “Oooh!”

“Clytemnestra meets Agamemnon on the palace steps . . . “

And the boys shout, “And she whacks him!”

“No, she says, ‘Welcome home, honey! Here’s a red carpet. How about a bath? Take off those heavy weapons,’ and THEN she throws a net over him and whacks him, with an axe, in the bathtub. Blood everywhere. And then she whacks Cassandra, who is standing outside prophesying her own death.”

The boys all look very impressed as I cross out those names with a big black X. “And then . . . Orestes returns! And he kills Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. And nobody is left alive except . . . “

“Helen and Menelaus! And Orestes!” chorus the boys, looking at all the arrows, bubbles, and big black Xs on the board.

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