"Togas? " Joe looks surprised.
"Yes, togas. I definitely think we should wear togas.And we'll need some listening devices, IR detection equipment, spyware - find out as much info from the enemy as possible. Oh yeah, another thing! you dont know anyone who's an expert hacker do you? We could also try biological warfare - perhaps find someone with the flu and get them to follow the prosecutors round, sneeze in their faces, that sort of thing. "
Joe looks uncertain. "Well you've obviously thought about this a bit more than me....so...." he tails off, uncertain what to say next.
"OK, well maybe we should wrap this up for the moment. Do you want to take a look at this stuff I prepared ? "......... I push my research material ( a fifty page bundle of notes, print-offs and leaflets on tactics, evidence, strategies, arguments, counterarguments, plus books, including the classic "Ancient Economy" by Finley, and a working model of Hero's Aeolipile) towards him........... "and we'll meet next week"
Joe demurs "Perhaps it would be best if I just did those couple of paragraphs of suggested reading first. That's quite a lot of material you've produced. You know it's only a half hour seminar dont you?"
The meeting ends, we part ways and I trundle the Crosstowner homewards, deep in thought. The "it" we have been discussing is an impending seminar, a part of our module "Innovations: A Cultural History" . The format of the seminar is a mini trial in which arbitarily picked students from the class have been divided into groups. Our group is Group B and in the first seminar we are the defence in the debate "The Greeks and Romans were technological underachievers". Other groups (Group A and Group C) act as prosecution and jury. Throughout the module, other topics are debated and our roles are switched, but for the first, crucial half hour session, we are advocates for the Greeks. It is a role I have not taken lightly.
However, as I wander home, I consider whether Joe has a point - am I taking this all a bit too seriously? I have to admit that during our meeting, Joe did, at times, look a little like a deer caught in headlights, but I put that down more to a dawning awareness (on his part) of the enormity of our task in constructing an absolutely watertight case, demolishing our opponents case(preferably humiliating them at the same time) and, in the process, changing global understandings of history (while wearing togas), than I did to an overenthusiasm on my part. Admittedly, my accent can be distracting, particularly during impassioned pleading, and I may have been slightly overstating the case when I suggested that no legal question since Roe vs Wade had been more important. It may also be the case, I suppose, that it is possible that my suggestions for physical intimidation of the jury and nobbling of the prosecution might have been taken for the dangerous ramblings of a deranged lunatic, but on balance, for a Second Year Group Seminar, I think I got it about right. The work we do his year does, after all contribute to ur final mark, and as Grasshopper has oft times pointed out - academia is a competitive sport. I'm sure she would approve, particularly the bits about disabling one's opponents.
I do however, decide to simplify my approach for the next meeting of Team Antikythera ( which hopefully more of the group will attend), so I remove ten of the less vital items from my suggested agenda, including a suggestion that someone is delegated to read, in its entirety, Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (in case I missed something), my proposal for someone to visit the Athens Museum (they do have a fairly good website) and the plan to remove from the library every single possible source of reference material for the opposition (on the grounds that I have already done it). I also reluctantly remove the toga provision - it could backfire, particularly if we get our togas mixed up with our chitons.