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English Language and History .com is a collection of two-minute tales drawn from history, myth and fiction. Each tale is accompanied by word games testing grammar and expression, based on textbooks used in British schools from the 1920s to the 1960s.

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Turning the Tide
Music: Frank Bridge
King Canute enacted a memorable demonstration of the limits of government power.
By Henry of Huntingdon
(?1088-?1157)

AT the high-point of his reign, King Canute ordered his throne to be set upon the seashore as the tide was coming in, and then addressed the rising waters.

‘You and the land on which my throne is standing are subject to me. No one has ever defied my royal commands and gone unpunished.

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Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Greek and Roman Myths’ (31 posts)
page 1
1 Heracles and the Cattle of Geryon
Heracles must get the better of a three-bodied giant and steal his cattle.
2 Heracles and the Girdle of Hippolyte
A princess covets the belt of a warrior-queen, so Heracles is despatched to get it for her.
3 Heracles and the Mares of Diomedes
Eurystheus pits his cousin against a son of Ares and some man-eating horses.
4 Heracles and the Cretan Bull
Heracles seems to be the only one who can keep Poseidon’s rampaging white bull under control.
5 Heracles and the Birds of Lake Stymphalia
Our hero is sent to deal with some man-eating birds, but cannot reach their lakeside refuge.
6 The Tragedy of King Oedipus
Oedipus flees home in an attempt to escape a dreadful prophecy, unware that it is following at his heels.
page 2
7 Heracles and the Augean Stables
Heracles shows his capacity for thinking outside the box, but spoils it by trying to be just a little bit too clever.
8 Heracles and the Erymanthian Boar
Snaring a wild boar turns out to be much less dangerous than keeping centaurs away from their wine.
9 Bellerophon and the Chimera
The wronged hero vanquishes a dreadful monster with the help of a winged horse, but then it all goes to his head.
10 Heracles and the Cerynaean Hind
Eurystheus sends his cousin on another labour, this time hoping the task is too delicate for the big man.
11 The Sword of Damocles
A reminder that those with extreme wealth and power have everything but the peace to enjoy it.
12 Hera and the Boeotian Bride
Zeus employs a little psychology to effect a reunion with his offended wife.
page 3
13 Apple of Discord
Thetis snubs Eris, goddess of Discord, and sets off a series of events leading to the Trojan War.
14 Romulus and the Sabine Women
The legend of how Rome was settled gave rise to the March festival of Roman motherhood.
15 The Siege of Troy: the Abduction of Helen
Paris, prince of Troy, takes the not unwilling Queen of Sparta back home with him, and sparks twenty years of retribution.
16 Damon and Pythias
A tale of two friends with complete confidence in each other, and loyal to the death.
17 The Midas Touch
An ancient Greek myth about the dangers of easy wealth.
18 Pygmalion and Galatea
Pygmalion discovered that prudishness is not the same as purity.
page 4
19 The Gordian Knot
Alexander fulfilled the letter of a prophecy and he did become ruler of the world, but it wasn’t quite fair.
20 Heracles and the Hydra
The Greek hero thinks he has paid off more of his debt to the gods, but an unpleasant surprise awaits him.
21 Perseus and the Gorgon
When Polydectes, King of Seriphos, sent Perseus to get the Gorgon’s head, he hoped the boy would never come back.
22 Jason and the Golden Fleece
A political rival sends Jason on a hopeless errand, to fetch the golden fleece.
23 Phrixus and the Golden Fleece
Long before Jason came to claim it, the golden fleece had already saved a boy’s life.
24 The Hunt for the Wild Boar of Calydon
King Oeneus of Calydon slighted Artemis, and she pursued a bitter and relentless vengeance upon him.
page 5
25 Hephaestus and the Love Net
When he caught his wife with her lover, the ugly blacksmith of the gods showed that he was not without his pride.
26 Heracles at the Crossroads
The gods had given Heracles every grace of body and mind, but there was one thing he must do for himself: choose how to use them.
27 Odysseus Comes Home
The wandering King was alive after all - unknown to his “widow’s” suitors.
28 Theseus and the Minotaur
A warning not to be forgetful of others, even in triumph.
29 Heracles and the Nemean Lion
Sending a hero off to ‘certain death’ never seems to work out...
30 Perseus and Andromeda
Wielding the Gorgon’s head, Perseus saves a beautiful maiden from a ravening sea-monster.
page 6
31 Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus would lose his beloved wife Eurydice to death not once, but twice.

Word Play: Confusables

Compose your own sentences to show the difference between these words:

Extravagant. Generous.

What’s New
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf paints a word-picture of heaven and the seraph-band that swoops and soars before the throne.
By Sir Winston S. Churchill
(1874-1965)
As a last, desperate throw of the dice in the Great War, the Germans detonated an unusual kind of weapon in St Petersburg.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Don Pedro’s brother John tries to ensure that the course of true love does not run smooth.
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
St Bede says that Christ’s Transfiguration should remind us that we live in two worlds at the same time.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Decide whether a word is a verb or a noun (or both), and compose example sentences.
Polyword ‘Fete’
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
Change SNOW into DROP, one letter at a time.
Do you know ‘princes and princesses, kings and queens’ (7 letters), and ‘jump up and down on one foot’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘knock over and scatter’ (7 letters), and ‘a measure of length equal to 45 inches’ (3 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Make opposites from these words using prefixes, like lucky → unlucky.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FLAG and finish with POLE.
top topics
History (351)
Fiction (73)

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