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English Language and History

The brief stories below are taken from history, myth or fiction. Each one is accompanied by games and exercises in essential grammar and free composition, based on old school textbooks.

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The Bald Lover
Music: Benjamin Britten
A man’s mid-life crisis leaves him a little ... exposed.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

A MAN had reached a time of life when he was no longer young, nor was he exactly old, but somewhere in between, with silver among the black of his hair.

He still kept a busy party diary, and had lost his head over two ladies, one young, and one of more mature years.

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Six Posts
The Debtor and his Pig
Music: John Field
There are no lengths to which some people won’t go.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONCE upon a time in Athens, there was a man who was in debt, and his creditor was pressing him to repay.

His first response was to ask for an extension on his loan, as (so he said) he could not raise the money.

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The Cat’s Wedding
Music: George Frideric Handel
It’s easier to change how you look than to hide who you are.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

Aphrodite felt sorry for the lovesick cat, and did indeed turn her into a very lovely young woman. Naturally, the young man immediately fell in love with her, and they were soon married.

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The Crow and the Pitcher
Brute force is no substitute for quick thinking.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

AN extremely thirsty crow stumbled across a pitcher, and when she peered inside she found that it was half-filled with water.

But the neck was very narrow, and try as she might she could neither reach the water with her beak, nor summon up sufficient force to tip the pitcher on its side.

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The Fox and the Grapes
Music: Edward German
Some people disparage what they can’t have.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

A FOX was padding about a vineyard in the mountains, when he spotted some bunches of grapes hanging from a trellis.

He scampered over to them, as they were ripe and deep black, harvested in peak condition by someone who knew his business.

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The Ape and the Fox
Music: Muzio Clementi
A valuable lesson when dealing with practised liars.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONCE upon a time, a fox and an ape were travelling the same road, and passed through a cemetery.

The ape waved a leathery hand towards the rows of headstones. “All these” he said “mark the last resting place of slaves given their freedom by my ancestors”.

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The Hare and the Tortoise
Music: Muzio Clementi
One had natural talent but no discipline, the other had discipline but no natural talent.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONCE upon a time, the hare made fun of the tortoise for his horny feet. ‘I would still beat you in a race’ the tortoise replied, ‘fleet of foot though you be.’

‘Words, just words!’ laughed the hare. ‘But by all means put it to the test, and see for yourself.’

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All Posts
Tagged Aesop of Samos (15 posts)
page 1
1 The Bald Lover
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A man’s mid-life crisis leaves him a little ... exposed.
2 The Hare and the Tortoise
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
One had natural talent but no discipline, the other had discipline but no natural talent.
3 Belling the Cat
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A council of mice comes up with a plan to outsmart the Cat, but volunteers are a bit thin on the ground.
4 The Fox and the Bramble
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A fox tries to save herself from a fall, but finds she would have been better off taking the tumble.
5 The Fox and the Grapes
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
Some people disparage what they can’t have.
6 The Partridge and the Cockerels
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
It’s hard when messed-up people treat you badly, but if you take it personally it only makes it worse.
page 2
7 The Farmer and the Buried Treasure
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
An affectionate father came up with an imaginative way to get his sons to work on the farm.
8 The Lion and the Mouse
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A casual act of mercy brought an unexpected reward.
9 The Eagle, the Jackdaw, and the Shepherd
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
An over-excited jackdaw goes out of his league, and pays the price.
10 The Debtor and his Pig
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
There are no lengths to which some people won’t go.
11 The Cat’s Wedding
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
It’s easier to change how you look than to hide who you are.
12 The Ape and the Fox
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A valuable lesson when dealing with practised liars.
page 3
13 The Goose with the Golden Egg
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
Don’t get greedy when things are going well.
14 The Dog and the Bell
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
Notoriety is often mistaken for fame.
15 The Crow and the Pitcher
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
Brute force is no substitute for quick thinking.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Verb or Noun?

Use each of the words below once as a noun and once as a verb:

Pay. Make. Know.

By Ethel Smyth
(1858-1944)
Composer Ethel Smyth buys a new-fangled ladies’ bicycle, and scandalises the neighbours.
By Lewis Carroll
(1832-1898)
Alice meets Humpty Dumpty, and it turns out that she has been using words wrong all her life.
The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Hope’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with ASH and finish with OAK.
Do you know ‘current of cold air’ (7 letters), and ‘e.g. fascinator’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘a temperature scale’ (6 letters), and ‘a bit of useful advice’ (3 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘glittering crown’ (6 letters), and ‘dark and gloomy’ (5 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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History (375)
Fiction (81)

letters game

Make words from two or more of the tiles below. What is the highest-scoring word you can make?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: ‘Scrabble’ letters game Games with Words

numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps Mental arithmetic