Back-to-School Patroclus

In honor of all the students going back to school, I wanted to share one of my favorite Patroclus-related teaching stories.

In my middle-school Latin class, we were discussing which gods had taken which sides in the Trojan War.  I asked who was on the Greek side, and the students called out answers:
“Athena!”  “Hera!”  “Apollo!”
“No!” another student shouted.  “Apollo wasn’t on the Greek side.  Remember?  He pantsed that guy.”

The class paused.  In US slang, ‘pantsing’ refers to yanking someone’s trousers down as a prank, preferably in front of an audience.

“He did what?” I asked.
“Pantsed that guy.  On the walls, or something?  You told us he did!”

I ran back over every Trojan War myth, trying to find an incident that could possibly be interpreted as ‘pantsing.’  At last, light dawned.  The week before I had told them about Apollo knocking off Patroclus’ helmet and armor, to reveal that he wasn’t really Achilles.
“Do you mean Patroclus?”
“Yeah!  Him!”

I explained that pantsing wasn’t really a good term for it, since they didn’t wear pants in Homeric Greece.  The student listened to my explanation with polite tolerance.  Then turned to his neighbor, “See!  I told you he pantsed him.”

I can just imagine the student one day saying to his college professor: “Sure I know who Apollo is!  My teacher told us how he pantsed this guy…”

Circe - US Edition
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The Song of Achilles UK Edition
The Song of Achilles UK Edition

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