So how do you get a 10 year old girl to giggle and snuggle in with you on the couch and keep her smiling for a good hour and make her so happy that she ends up hugging you and dancing around the living room?
Why, you start reading her Rolfe Humphries' translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses of course. Of course.
We went to our little local thrift store (now a not-so-local half hour drive) last week and as the kids dug through toy boxes in search of Hot Wheels and stuffed NeoPets I poured over the book section. I found some damn nice books too; an old edition of Mrs. Browning's Poems, a children's book called Famous Scientific Expeditions (do they even publish books for kids like that anymore?) and a nice Nat. Geo. book on the Renaissance. But the one I was excited about and the one my husband teased me about was Ovid's Metamorphoses. (Yes, he teased me. The guy I fell for because he was reading Appian's The Civil Wars while pumping gas at the truck stop we worked at. Some people.)
The husband figured it would never get read. He thought it might sit beside my Penguin edition of The Illiad, the one I swore I was going to read after zipping through a Colleen McCullough (yes, she of The Thornbirds fame) version. Or he thought I'd torture the daughter with it for a bit (after all, how fun could an ancient Roman poet really be?) and then forget I had it.
I picked it up today, started reading and thought, damn, this is good. I sat down with Catherine tonight on the couch and before we were a dozen verses in she was as hooked as I was. We talked as I read and also consulted my Oxford NRSV Bible when we noticed some similarities between Ovid's creation story and the first creation story of the Bible. We giggled over Jove and Io ("Mom, do you remember when you said Zeus couldn't keep his pants on and Dad said, "of course not! The Greeks didn't wear pants!"). Catherine grew grave and I almost got teary as we read about the earth burning when Phaethon failed to control his father's chariot. When I finished for tonight Catherine bounced over (the dancing, remember the dancing)and gave me the biggest hug I'd had in days and a heartfelt thank you.
And should I add that by the time I was into the story of Phaethon Harry and my doubter of a husband were sitting in the living room listening to me read.
So if you want to enchant you children and show up your husband, Ovid, as translated by Rolfe Humphries, is your man.