Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Heather Day

Wheaton alumna Heather Day, who teaches Latin to high school students in Pennsylvania, is the co-author of the newly published, The Mythic Warrior’s Handbook. She took a few minutes to tell us how the book came about and share a few tips.

An author is born. I was contacted by Adams Media, which was looking for someone to write a book that would be a “how to guide” for wanna-be heroes. They were hoping to capitalize on the recent media love of myths, such as the remake of Clash of the Titans and the Percy Jackson books and film.

Previous experience. They saw the “Aeneid on Facebook” that my friend and fellow graduate student, Erika Carlson, and I had created a few months earlier. The Aeneid on Facebook was a fun way of retelling the myth of the Aeneid for our bored Myth 170 students. The publisher loved our style of humor and our ability to make myth approachable and asked if I would be willing to write it.

The deadline. We began writing it around March and the final copy was done in mid-September. It was a bit of a whirlwind adventure to be writing a book at the same time as moving and beginning my dream career of teaching Latin. I currently teach seven Latin classes at Milton Area High School in Pennsylvania. It is exhausting, but the humor that I used in the book is how I attempt to get my students interested in even the dullest of grammatical lessons.

Wheaton influence. My education definitely plays a role. In addition to using my Classics Major to teach Latin, Wheaton was the first place that I got any experience as both a tutor and a teaching assistant. I was a Greek TA for Professor Nancy Evans my senior year, and I was a writing tutor for a year before that. Both experiences were really helpful. In addition, since I am the only Latin teacher in the high school at which I teach, I have small classes like those that I had at Wheaton, and I frequently think back to how Professor Evans or Professor Joel Relihan would handle any given issue in class. They are my constant examples that I still draw from, even now.

Favorite chapter. My favorite part of the book is the section on the Trojan Horse, where it is suggested that Odysseus had to train his men in pre-Trojan Horse drills, such as “How long can you stay quiet?”, “How to hold your spear without hurting your neighbor” and “How to be comfortable with less personal space.” It’s not like everyone is fit for squeezing into a Trojan Horse and I can’t think of a single ancient author that ever addressed this issue.

Tips for mere mortals. While you may not run into a hydra on your day to day errands, you could always learn from the heroes’ mistakes. A big one would be to pick a good wife. Hercules died because his wife was really dumb and she thought poisoned blood could be a love potion. And Jason, well he learned from Hercules not to marry an idiot, so he married a woman who was smarter than him, Medea. Never ever, EVER, anger a Medea. You will wind up with your children killed and a chunk of a boat landing on your head.