My Son, the Fact Checker

Sam’s latest obsession is Greek Mythology. It may be an extension of his flying off the couch as if he were Icarus, but his curiosity for all things myth has increased over the last several months.

Scene: In car, driving to library. Sam, not content to just enjoy the short ten-minute ride, must read a thick tome of myths while on way to acquire new thick tomes of myths.

From the back seat: “Mom? This is really confusing!”

“What is, babe?”

“Atalanta and Hippomenes. The wrong person wins the race!”

“Hmm,” I say.

“Did you hear me? Mom! This is wrong!”

I’m fairly certain I have no idea what he’s talking about.

“Mom, on Starfall, it’s Atalanta who wins the race —not Hippomenes! But this book says that Hippomenes wins the race.”

I hear how upset he is and realize that 1) Even if my son is smarter than I am, I must not show it and 2) I need to come up with a better answer. But my mind and myths? A sieve.

“Okay, honey, we’ll consult Google when we get home.”

“That’s good and whoever has the most-rights will be the one I believe and the other will be most-wrong. Okay?”

Yep.

The book is correct, of course. It is my motherly duty to write a letter to Starfall:

RE: The Woman Runner (under “I’m Reading;” “Greek Myths.”)
My 7-year-old son, who happens to have a photographic memory, was reading a book on Greek mythology and came to me confused about the ending of the myth of Atalanta and Hippomenes. The book he was reading ends with Hippomenes (the boy/prince) winning the race after Aphrodite gives him 3 apples with which to distract Atalanta (the girl). My son said “On Starfall, Atalanta wins the race.” So we came back here to your site and while I appreciate the girl-power twist on this myth, we both thought you should know it’s incorrect. If only you had 7-year-old fact checkers who are obsessed with mythology!

Their response:

Tell your son he is correct! The Woman Runner we modified so the kids can choose their ending. The kids can choose to let the prince win or let Atalanta win, and depending on the outcome of the race the final page is different.  But your son is correct that in the traditional myth the prince wins the race. Thanks for using Starfall!

Does that seem right? I mean, I know it’s mythology and not world history, but for kids like Sam who trust what they read, especially on educational sites —he can choose the ending? I don’t think this answer will appease Sam. Not at all. I think I will unleash him on the rest of the site. What say you, dear readers?

And here, a few additional Greek characters whose names I know not at all:

Cyclopes et. al.

Um devil guy, a centaur? Will consult with in-house expert and get back to you.

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