Saturday, June 25, 2011

Medium or Well Done?

My husband Hugh is the smartest person I know.  Well, the truth is, he's one of the smartest people I know.  It's just more politically correct to claim your husband to exceed all others.

I need Hugh right now to calculate the temperature for me.  I don't need him to tell me that it's hot.  My skin has been melting off of my bones since arriving on the island of Ageana this morning, telling me that it's plenty hot.  What I need is the temperature.  How hot is it?  They tell me it's 36 degrees.  Since there is no snow on the ground, I know they mean Centigrade.  I've never learned the conversion formula between Farenheit and Centigrade because my walking-computer-husband always does such high level math for me.  All I can come up with is this:  1) Way back in high school we had to record the temperature of the room whenever we did experiments in chemistry.  I remember often recording 17 or 18 in those days.  I would be wearing a sweater, chilled to the bone, complaining to my lab partner about how cold it was.  2)  I think body temperature is somewhere in the 30s.  Maybe 33?  Maybe 36?

It's hot.  It's brutally hot.  It's beyond-description-in-words hot.

After strolling and sweating (and sweating and sweating and sweating) in the midday sun through ruins that date back to 2,500 years B.C., I found myself thinking about the history of Greece through a lens I had never considered before: the lens of the weather.

I'm going back and reconsidering the Battle at Thermopyle.  And I deperately want to know what month did the battle take place?  I'm thinking of today, June 25th, and am wondering if this was the time of year 1,000 Greeks and 100,000 Persians battled in that narrow mountain pass.  Could it be possible that so many men would put on the full armor of battle, march for days on end with the heat radiating from the land, then engage in hand to hand combat?  What kind of crazy people would do that?  Where did they get their drinking water?  How in the world would they have enough energy to take a stand against the enemy or even raise their shields to defend themselves?  Whose insane idea would it be to fight in weather like this?  I will tell you right now that my entire opinion about these warriors will change if I find out they were actually nut-cases who fought in temperatures as extreme as what I'm experiencing right now.

My curiosity overwhelms me, and Wikipedia is just two or three clicks of the keyboard away.  Googel.....Thermopyle....translate from Greek to English......waiting......Oh!  On the right hand side of the Wikipedia entry for Thermopyle is a photograph of the the plain where the battle took place.  I've been there!  (How cool is that?!)  But I must get over myself and find the answer to my burning (pun intended) question.  Will this source tell me more than just the year of the battle?  Will it tell me the month?

I scan the article and find the information I have only just become interested in during the last two hours of my life.   "....marched north to close the straits in the summer of 480 B.C...."  Just sentences later "....arrived in late August or September...."

Holy smokes!  Swarms of crazy warriors fighting for over a week in the swealtering heat!  It's nearly beyond comprehension to me.  Even as I write this, I am shaking my head.  Weren't diplomatic efforts, like talking over a dip in the Aegean, considered?  I'm sure my husband Hugh would have come up with a very creative solution to the conflict that would have involved much less sweating!

As for me, it is time for the bathing suit and a swim!

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