1178 BCE — Odysseus reclaims the throne of Ithaca

Tradition holds that this is the day that the Odyssey ended: that Ulysses returned to Ithaca, recruited his son and other allies, and tricked his wife’s suitors before slaughtering them all. Along the way, he was also reunited with, in order, his dog (who died of old age shortly thereafter), his father, his childhood nurse, and finally, his wife, Penelope, the most faithful woman in all of Greek Myth.

Twenty years after his departure for the ringing fields of windy Troy, the very last of the Danaans returned home. The age of myth in Greece, as we know it, ended shortly thereafter, with the final triumph of the wiliest and most determined of all the heroes of Greece.

Referenced in:

Steely Dan — Home At Last

1949 — Doris Day becomes a star of the screen

Doris Day was already a successful singer, and had been since her first hit (1945’s “Sentimental Journey”), when she decided to make the transition to film. After a bumpy start in 1948’s “Romance on the High Seas”, she got decent reviews for her performance in the otherwise largely unexceptional “My Dream is Yours” (which opened on April 16, 1949) and really started to gain attention later in the same year, with “It’s a Great Feeling” (opened August 1).

From there, Day rarely looked back, starring in a string of comedies, romances and even a Hitchcock thriller (1956’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much”). But she never forgot her roots, either, and almost all of her acting roles included at least one song sung by her (like that damned inescapable “Que Sera Sera” in the aforementioned “The Man Who Knew Too Much”). She would star in a total of 39 films during her career.

Referenced in:
We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel

384 BCE — Aristotle is born

The third of the three great Ancient Greek philosophers was the student of Plato (who, in his turn, had been a student of Socrates). The works of Plato and Aristotle were the foundation of science and reason – and for that matter, of theology – for literally hundreds of years. It was not until the Renaissance that their works were surpassed in Western Europe.

Aristotle’s works included foundational texts on logic, politics, ethics, poetry, physics, metaphysics and biology. In addition to being one of the most prolific writers of his era – and this is based only on his surviving works (some of them are lost to us) – he was also a teacher. He taught in Athens and later in Macedon, where his students included Alexander the Great, as well as Ptolemy I (a general of Alexander’s) and Cassander (a later Macedonian king). In his 62 years of life, it appears that about the only thing he didn’t do was sleep…

Referenced in:

Bruces’ Philosophers Song — Monty Python