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The Greeks
excerpted from S*** Happened, A Concise and Somewhat Confused Guide to History

by William Lengeman

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The Greeks were probably one of the most important ancient civilizations of all time--or at least that's what everyone always says. Who the hell am I to quibble--and for that matter what is a quibble (one of this little fuzzy things on that dumb Star Trek episode, if my memory serves me correctly)? After excavating a lot of ancient ruins, getting really dusty in the process and sneezing a helluva lot, archaeologists have uncovered a few shards of pottery that prove, beyond any reasonable shadow of a doubt, Professor Fizhbit "Donnie" Ozmhahnd's once-revolutionary theory that the ancient Greeks lived "somewhere in the general vicinity of Greece." Sadly, Professor Ozmhahnd never lived to see his theory vindicated. Not long after devising it he was set upon by a nest of badgers he'd unwittingly uncovered during an archaeological dig and was ripped to shreds.

Like so many other ancient civilizations the Greeks were very warlike. They fought a number of legendary wars and battles whose names still appear in some of the more boring history books to this day--names like Marathon, Thermopylae, Hodingelon, Meatybistlewhing, Rapskankus and the Battle of the Bulge. The Trojan War was one of these typically nasty wars of ancient times. It was fought sometime around 1200 B.C. by the Greeks and the Trojans, who lived in Troy. Troy was probably the only country whose name was the same as a man's name, unless you count stuff like Rome and Roman Polanski or Roman Gabriel--who used to be a quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, if my memory serves me correctly.

So the Greeks and the Trojans (Who are best known for devising a primitive version of the condom in about 1350 BC. This innovation was not very well-received, by the way, primarily because it was made of wood) fought their little war for about 10 years and it became apparent that neither side was getting the best of the other.

By this time everybody was ready to throw in the towel but since it was a war they felt obligated to keep going. Both sides had forgotten what they were fighting about like in that really stupid Star Trek episode (Is it obvious yet, with all the references to Star Trek, what a wretched, pathetic geek I am?) where the people who have one half of their face painted black and the other half painted white are fighting a bitter war against the people who have their faces painted with the opposite color scheme. God, what a stupid episode that was. So anyway, Ulysses, who was a really kick-ass Greek warrior, got to thinking and he came up with a brilliant scheme.

Ulysses' brainstorm was to build a big wooden horse, shove a bunch of Greeks up its ass (something the Greeks ended up with quite a reputation for, if you'll pardon me saying so), present it to the Trojans as a gift, and then act like they were leaving. This is proof of the age-old dictum, "just because you're a kick-ass Greek warrior, doesn't mean you're necessarily all that bright." In any sober (or drunken) analysis of Ulysses' stratagem a few weaknesses are evident. First of all is this matter of giving a huge wooden horse as a gift. What the hell would anybody do with something like this, even assuming that they had somewhere to keep it? It's way too big to take the kids on horsy rides and it's certainly not going to fit on the mantelpiece with all of the other knick-knacks.

Then there are a few other issues that should have been a dead giveaway for the Trojans, as if all the snickering coming from inside the horse wasn't enough. It stands to reason that if you get enough guys inside a big wooden horse for a while at some point a certain percentage of them are going to have to go to the can. This would have had very unpleasant implications for the guys in the horse, as it would have produced a very distinctive aroma that no one would have expected to be coming from a horse--or at least not from a wooden one.

Fortunately for the Greeks the Trojans were really a bunch of blabbering idiots. They fell for the wooden horse trick hook, line and sinker and wheeled it right into the city. This is a perfect example of the law of natural selection. Everybody gathered round the horse and they were all really excited and kept remarking on the nice workmanship and sniffing and giving each other those "did you do that?" looks. But anyway, that's as much as you need to know about the Trojan War and probably a whole helluva lot more. Those of you who can't get enough of this kind of thing can check out some of the great Greek classics which deal with such topics, such as Virgil's Aeneid, and Iliad and the Odyssey, by Homer. I assure you that you'll find all of these great works of literature very enlightening, but a piece of advice--make a pot of coffee first.

Homer was a Greek poet who lived some time around the 10th century B.C. He was probably one of the most famous Greeks of all time, next to Jimmiklos the Greek, who invented betting and who was a distant ancestor of the well-known contemporary odds-maker, Jimmy the Greek. One thing that you might not have known about Homer was that he was the banjo playing half of the ancient Greek bluegrass duo, Homer and Jethro. He also invented the gyro and those little fabric softener sheets that you put in the dryer. Since he came up with the latter some several thousand years before dryers even existed Homer had trouble finding a market for this revolutionary product.

The ancient Greeks were very warlike but they were a little different from other ancient warlike peoples in that they spent a lot of time doing things that most warriors thought were "sissified," such as writing, painting, sculpting, ballet, crocheting doilies, making potpourri, and sitting around thinking. Historians are divided on this point but more than a few feel that the Greeks actually invented thinking. Of course this is the kind of thing that's really hard to figure out since earlier peoples may have thought without leaving any record of it or even thought without realizing they were thinking.

So anyway, to summarize, the Greeks came up with a whole pile of this "sissified" cultural stuff which was a great influence on future civilizations. Nowadays it's all packed away in a bunch of dusty museums where people go racing by at top speed, glancing over and pretending to be fascinated as they make their way to the snack bar for a few corn dogs and a bag of pork rinds. Greek literature has also been a huge influence on future generations though admittedly this influence is confined largely to the kind of people who smoke pipes and wear entirely too much tweed.


 and that's all you need to know