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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.

A to Z Index

Judicial Iniquity
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
John Stuart Mill reminds us that governments and the courts must never be allowed to criminalise matters of belief or opinion.
By John Stuart Mill
(1806-1873)

BORN in an age and country abounding in individual greatness, this man [Socrates] has been handed down to us by those who best knew both him and the age, as the most virtuous man in it; while we know him as the head and prototype of all subsequent teachers of virtue, the source equally of the lofty inspiration of Plato and the judicious utilitarianism of Aristotle, the two headsprings of ethical as of all other philosophy.

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Six Posts
Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont
Music: Frank Bridge
The Persian King felt that a lord of his majesty should not have to take any nonsense from an overgrown river.
By Herodotus
(?484-?425 BC)

MEANWHILE, his men were bridging the Hellespont from Asia to Europe. But no sooner had the strait been bridged than a great storm swept down, breaking and scattering everything.

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Byron and Hercules
Music: Traditional Greek Song (arr. piano and voice)
Lord Byron could not have hoped for a better omen in his support for the oppressed people of Greece.

IN 1815, the poet Lord Byron married Annabella Milbanke in Seaham Hall, County Durham.

In that same year, and in that same town, a small trading ship was launched, named Hercules after the legendary Greek hero.

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Richard Church
Music: John Field
The headstrong Irish boy became part of the Greek resistance movement that won independence in 1832.

AT sixteen, Richard Church ran away from home in Cork and enlisted in the British Army. Later, he made a name for himself in the liberation of the Ionian Islands from Napoleon in 1809, and stayed on, as commanding officer of two new Greek regiments in British pay.

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The Lion of Piraeus
Music: John Jenkins
A marble statue in Venice bears witness to Europe’s long history of brave defeats and fruitless victories.

THE Arsenal at Venice is graced by two marble lions looted by Venetian commander Francesco Morsini from Piraeus, near Athens, in 1687. The lions, already a feature of the Greek port for fifteen centuries, were his trophies following a brief liberation of Athens and the Peloponnese from the Ottoman Empire.

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The Spy
two-part story
Music: Edward Elgar
In 1910, Constantine Zervakos, a young monk from the Greek island of Paros, found himself charged with espionage.

ON his way home to Paros after a long-anticipated visit to Mount Athos, a young monk named Constantine Zervakos decided he had enough time before his ship left Thessalonica to nip into the Turkish-controlled city and visit the church of St Demetrius.

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Kipling and ‘Agamemnon’
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett
Both Rudyard Kipling and the Royal Navy saw Greek sovereignty as a universal symbol of freedom.

RUDYARD Kipling liked to pretend that he was hopeless at classical languages.

Yet he wrote half-a-dozen stories set in classical antiquity, and as the Great War drew to a close in 1918, sent to the ‘Telegraph’ a translation of the Greek national anthem, ‘Hymn to Liberty’, composed in 1823 as Greece fought for independence from the Turks.

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All Posts
Tagged Greek History (24 posts)
page 1
1 Judicial Iniquity
By John Stuart Mill
(1806-1873)
John Stuart Mill reminds us that governments and the courts must never be allowed to criminalise matters of belief or opinion.
2 The Voice of an Angel
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A tenth-century Greek monk is joined by a total stranger for Mattins.
3 The Lion of Piraeus
A marble statue in Venice bears witness to Europe’s long history of brave defeats and fruitless victories.
4 The United States of the Ionian Islands
The British liberated the Ionian islands from Napoleon, then gave them fifty happy years and the game of cricket.
5 St Ahmed
A Turkish official was itching to know the secret behind a Russian slave girl’s personal charm.
6 Demetrius the Diver
Based on an article by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
A survivor of the infamous massacre of Chios in 1821 goes to Marseilles, but discovers he has not entirely left the Turks behind.
page 2
7 A Pyrrhic Victory
By Plutarch
(AD 46-120)
The ancient Greek King knew victory had cost his army more than it could afford to lose.
8 The Spy
In 1910, Constantine Zervakos, a young monk from the Greek island of Paros, found himself charged with espionage.
9 The Greeks, the Governor and the Potatoes
John Kapodistrias had an instinct for how a long-oppressed people might think.
10 Richard Church
The headstrong Irish boy became part of the Greek resistance movement that won independence in 1832.
11 Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont
By Herodotus
(?484-?425 BC)
The Persian King felt that a lord of his majesty should not have to take any nonsense from an overgrown river.
12 The Fall of Constantinople
Hospitality and sympathy, but no help - the Byzantine Emperor learns a bitter lesson about western diplomacy.
page 3
13 The Bishop’s Gambit
The mayor and bishop of Zakynthos went to extraordinary lengths to protect the most vulnerable people of their island.
14 Kipling and ‘Agamemnon’
Both Rudyard Kipling and the Royal Navy saw Greek sovereignty as a universal symbol of freedom.
15 ‘Hail, Liberty!’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Kipling borrowed from the Greek Independence movement to give thanks for the end of the Great War.
16 Alcibiades
In the populist democracy of 5th-century BC Athens, heroes fell as quickly as they rose.
17 Pericles and the Fickle Public of Athens
The leader of 5th-century BC Athens lavished public money on the city and its adoring citizens.
18 The Last Days of Socrates
Socrates was placed on death row while Athens celebrated a religious festival.
page 4
19 The Battle of Marathon
Remembered as the inspiration of the famous Olympic road race, but much more important than that.
20 Byron and Hercules
Lord Byron could not have hoped for a better omen in his support for the oppressed people of Greece.
21 The Third Siege of Missolonghi
The cruelty of the Ottoman Turks so shocked Europe that the tide of opinion turned against them.
22 The Sacred Snakes of Kefalonia
Once a year, regular as clockwork, the little snakes slither into the convent for a Feast of the Virgin Mary.
23 The Battle of Salamis
Defeat for the Greeks would have changed the course of Western civilization.
24 A Man called ‘Beta’
For a perennial ‘runner-up’, Eratosthenes had a peculiar knack of being first.
Authors
Herodotus (?484-?425 BC)
1 post
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
1 post
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
1 post
Plutarch (AD 46-120)
1 post
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Verb or Noun?

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

See. Go. Stand.

The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone explains that a truly ‘exceptional nation’ respects the equality and rights of all nations.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
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 ‘Edge’
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 FELL and finish with PONY.
Do you know ‘bashful’ (3), and ‘an open area of shrubs and coarse grass’ (5)?
Do you know ‘perceptive’ (5 letters), and ‘English artist’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘pull along’ (3 letters), and ‘examine someone’s background and credentials’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘raised stitching on a cricket ball’ (4 letters), and ‘a 1901 Kipling novel’ (3 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (375)
Fiction (80)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

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

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

numbers game

Make the total shown using two or more of the numbers underneath it. You can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Use any number once only.

More like this: Maths Gym Mental arithmetic