You never heard of her. You know her probably under another name. She may be a young he, an old she. Blond, brunette…it does not matter. Her real name is Clio; just Clio to be introduced to her is to love her. Forever.
History. I got hooked from an early age. And I carry on enjoying it, so … I shall share with you these magical moments when and where one can almost be part of it.
Clio otherwise known as the Muse of History disguised herself as a rather stern school teacher. In my salad days of pre co-ed, our teacher was female, a force of nature who had to drill in some 23 young girls ranging from 7 to 8 years of age the famous three Rs with a Gallic flavour. French reading, grammar, writing, poetry, mathematiques, natural science, calisthenics, geography and history. If you add to the complexity of her curriculum, she also had to teach us Art, Drawing, sewing and how to take care of bullies. Politically correct she may not have been; but efficient she was. Bullies knew that if and when they would come under her watch Retribution would come their wicked ways.
And she taught History. French History. Starting with cave men morphing in a few sentences into Gauls and Vercingetorix rebelling against Caesar. Caesar won; the land but not our hearts. No. Rome was the invader… and to this day Asterix still does not give his love to Rome. France was given civilization. Yes, this does not mean we did long after our striped breeches and our iron Age swords. We wore togas and ate in triclinia; but we were broody. Hostages of Rome. Prisoners in the most elegant golden cage one can imagine…and the Empire fell.
And the Barbarians came. And all made sense. Our long sleep had a purpose. We were to be the bridge between the sterile Romanitas and the ardour of our rough Rhinelander cousins. We were listening fascinated as Saint Remigius was converting Clovis on one side while good Clothilde was doing her best to suggest that it was the right thing to do. Remigius was Remi, proving that way before Disney ‘ratatouille’ was to be the right word to describe the very, very complicated lives of Clovis’s children.
Clio was homely. Who cared? She was spinning a web of tales each more fantastic than the other. Madame Biget is probably by now weaving her private Bayeux Tapestry of simplistic episodes of French History surrounded by angels.If angels exist. I am sure we all have a Mrs Biget, a Mr Smith or I wish we all had … whose description of History had more to do with an idealized past where heroes were ‘true blue’ and villains could not be but Arch-baddies.
Clio made me dream; I grew up and her solid good sense has helped me to want to learn more about History. Without the pizzazz with the real facts. Clio is adaptative to the age of her audience.
History is an endless river bringing golden nuggets of knowledge, building a bridge between the past and our future. I wish our children a teacher who can make them dream and think they are witnessing, living wonderful heroic deeds.
Thank you, Clio.