The narrator tells us Cheevy "dreamed of Thebes and Camelot, and Priam's neighbors." What are the possible downsides of living in any of these ancient times?

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Dame Mary Beard, a classical scholar at Cambridge University who has written extensively about Ancient Rome, spoke in the 2019 series of Gifford lectures about Roman sexual violence. When asked if she would like to have lived in Rome, Dame Mary remarked, "Of course not. The Romans celebrated rape."

The more one knows about the past, the less likely one is to romanticize it. Miniver Cheevy is in love with an idealized vision of chivalry that never actually existed. In the second stanza, he dreams of bright swords and prancing steeds, later returning to "the Mediaeval grace/of iron clothing." This is clearly an ironic phrase. An ensemble less graceful than a suit of armor can scarcely be imagined. In most cases, armor was an extremely uncomfortable, cumbersome form of battle dress which quickly became filthy.

The specific examples of Thebes, Camelot, and Priam's neighbors are interesting choices. Most classical scholars, like Dame Mary Beard, would probably prefer not to have lived in...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on March 30, 2020