What a Chump I Was in College

While I was a college student, one of my favorite books was Hercules, My Shipmate by Robert Graves, a re-telling of the story of Jason and the Argonauts. So I was delighted when my wife gave me a copy of it for Christmas. It must’ve been 40 years or more since I’d read it last.

Many books and movies I liked when I was young, I still like now. Some I like even more, like The Lord of the Rings, Agatha Christie’s novels, and Peter Sellers in Never Let Go. And I’ve always enjoyed Robert Graves’ most famous novel, I, Claudius (although Jack Pullman’s screenplay for the I, Claudius TV series is even better). Naturally I expected to be delighted by Hercules, My Shipmate.

Everyone, I suppose, once knew someone whom they thought was the absolute bee’s knees. Then you lose touch with this person, make contact again 30 years later, and wind up asking yourself, “What did I ever see in him? He is a total putz!”

So it went with Hercules, My Shipmate. *Sigh* Mostly it was Robert Graves reconstructing and then wildly enthusing over the creepy paganism of pre-Classical Greece, complete with human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism.

What did I ever see in this? Could I really have been such a chump, back then?

Yes, college can be rather an overwhelming experience. It took me about 30 years to outgrow it, and a lot of people never outgrow it. The better to manipulate you, your professors convince your intellectually defenseless 19-year-old self that you’re a thousand times smarter than your parents and you don’t need any of their silly old stuff anymore–including all that Christianity business. Why, in no time at all, you’ll be as smart as one of these professors!

I look back on this and shudder.

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