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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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Heads I Win, Tails You Lose!
(That’s cat-tails, obviously.) And who ever said cats were unpredictable?
By Charles H. Ross
(1835-1897)

ONE broiling hot summer’s day Charles James Fox and the Prince of Wales were lounging up St. James’s street, and Fox laid the Prince a wager that he would see more Cats than his Royal Highness would during their promenade, although the Prince might choose which side of the street he thought fit.

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Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Greek History’ (23 posts)
page 1
1 The Voice of an Angel
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A tenth-century Greek monk is joined by a total stranger for Mattins.
2 The Lion of Piraeus
A marble statue in Venice bears witness to Europe’s long history of brave defeats and fruitless victories.
3 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.
4 St Ahmed
A Turkish official was itching to know the secret behind a Russian slave girl’s personal charm.
5 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.
6 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.
page 2
7 The Spy
In 1910, Constantine Zervakos, a young monk from the Greek island of Paros, found himself charged with espionage.
8 The Greeks, the Governor and the Potatoes
John Kapodistrias had an instinct for how a long-oppressed people might think.
9 Richard Church
The headstrong Irish boy became part of the Greek resistance movement that won independence in 1832.
10 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.
11 The Fall of Constantinople
Hospitality and sympathy, but no help - the Byzantine Emperor learns a bitter lesson about western diplomacy.
12 The Bishop’s Gambit
The mayor and bishop of Zakynthos went to extraordinary lengths to protect the most vulnerable people of their island.
page 3
13 Kipling and ‘Agamemnon’
Both Rudyard Kipling and the Royal Navy saw Greek sovereignty as a universal symbol of freedom.
14 ‘Hail, Liberty!’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Kipling borrowed from the Greek Independence movement to give thanks for the end of the Great War.
15 Alcibiades
In the populist democracy of 5th-century BC Athens, heroes fell as quickly as they rose.
16 Pericles and the Fickle Public of Athens
The leader of 5th-century BC Athens lavished public money on the city and its adoring citizens.
17 The Battle of Marathon
Remembered as the inspiration of the famous Olympic road race, but much more important than that.
18 The Last Days of Socrates
Socrates was placed on death row while Athens celebrated a religious festival.
page 4
19 The Third Siege of Missolonghi
The cruelty of the Ottoman Turks so shocked Europe that the tide of opinion turned against them.
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 Sacred Snakes of Kefalonia
Once a year, regular as clockwork, the little snakes slither into the convent for a Feast of the Virgin Mary.
22 The Battle of Salamis
Defeat for the Greeks would have changed the course of Western civilization.
23 A Man called ‘Beta’
For a perennial ‘runner-up’, Eratosthenes had a peculiar knack of being first.

Word Play: Active or Passive?

Use each of the verbs below in either the active or the passive form. Can you use both forms?

Busy. Price. Become.

New Stories
The only truly global conflict in history began when German troops crossed into Poland in September 1939.
By Richard Cobden
(1804-1865)
Richard Cobden questioned both the wisdom and the motives of politicians who intervene on foreign soil.
To the poor of England, the Worcestershire man gave affordable pots and pans, and to all the world he gave the industrial revolution.
After Louis XIV’s grandson Philip inherited the throne of Spain, the ‘Sun King’ began to entertain dreams of Europe-wide dominion.
New Puzzles
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.
Try writing complete sentences using these nouns as either the subject or the object of a verb.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Polyword ‘Alien’
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
Do you know ‘glittering crown’ (6 letters), and ‘dark and gloomy’ (5 letters)?
Do you know ‘satisfied’ (7 letters), and ‘warm and cosy’ (4 letters)?
Do you know ‘brainy fellow’ (7 letters), and ‘drink’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘conscientious’ (7 letters), and ‘unreturned serve’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘overbalance’ (6 letters), and ‘veteran’ (3,4 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (359)
Fiction (77)

letters game

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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