Authors: Mary Pope Osborne
Tags: #Ages 5 & Up
“My name is Plato,” he said.
“Plato?” said Jack. That name sounded familiar.
“You may have heard of me,” the man said. “I am a philosopher.”
“What’s that mean?” said Annie.
“A lover of wisdom,” said Plato.
“Wow,” said Annie.
Plato smiled at her.
“It’s odd to see a girl walking so bravely through Olympia,” he said. “You must be from far away.”
“We’re Jack and Annie,” said Annie. “And we come from Frog Creek, Pennsylvania. It’s
Plato looked puzzled.
Annie turned to Jack.
“I think we should show him our cards,” she said in a low voice. “He’s a lover of wisdom.”
Jack nodded. He reached into his bag and took out the secret library cards. He showed them to Plato.
The letters M and L that stood for Master Librarian glittered on the cards.
“Amazing!” said Plato. “I’ve never met such young Master Librarians. Why have you come to Olympia?”
Jack pulled out the piece of paper with the title of the story.
“We’re looking for this story,” he said.
“Oh, yes,” said Plato softly. “This was written by a brilliant poet—a friend of mine, in fact.”
“Do you know where the poet lives?” asked Jack.
“Very near here,” said Plato.
“Will you take us there?” asked Annie.
“Yes, but I must warn you—never tell anyone who the poet is,” said Plato. “It’s a secret.”
“We won’t,” whispered Annie.
Plato led them away from the outdoor theater.
They started down a dirt road. It was crowded with people heading to the games.
Plato stopped at the door of a sand-colored house with a brick roof.
He opened the door and led Jack and Annie into an empty courtyard.
“Wait here,” he said. He disappeared through a doorway.
Jack and Annie looked around.
Rooms opened onto the sunny courtyard. Everything was quiet.
“The people who live here must have gone to the games,” said Annie.
“I bet you’re right,” said Jack.
He pulled out the Greek book and found a picture of a house. He read aloud:
Men and women lived in separate parts of a Greek house. Women spent most of their time spinning and weaving and taking care of the kitchen. Boys were sent away to school when they were seven. Girls were not allowed to go to school.
“Girls can’t go to school?” said Annie. “How do they learn to read and write?”
At that moment Plato returned. With him was a young woman dressed in a long tunic with a colored border. She was holding a scroll.
Annie smiled a big smile.
,” she said. “Another girl.”
“Jack and Annie, meet our secret poet,” said Plato.
The young woman smiled at Jack and Annie.
“How did you learn to read and write?” Annie asked.
“I taught myself,” the woman answered.
“She wrote a poem and brought it to me,” said Plato, “because I have written and told people that I think Greek girls
go to school and learn things.”
“Is that the poem?” said Jack. He pointed to the poet’s scroll.
“Yes,” said the young woman.
“It’s a wonderful story,” said Plato. “But she will get in trouble if it is read in our land. You must take it back to your faraway home, where it will be safe.”
The poet handed Jack her scroll. He put it into his bag.
“Tell us your name,” said Annie. “So we can tell people who wrote the story.”
The young woman shook her head.
“I cannot,” she said. When she saw Annie’s sad face, she added, “You can tell people it was written by Anonymous.”
your name?” asked Annie.
means that no one knows who wrote it,” said Plato.
“But that’s not true!” said Annie.
“I’m afraid the risk is too great,” said Plato.
Annie looked back at the woman.
“I’m sorry,” said Annie. “It’s not fair—not at all.”
The poet smiled at her. “I am happy that you will take my story to your country,” she said. “Perhaps someday women everywhere will write books just like men.”
“They will,” said Jack. “I promise.”
The young woman looked at him, puzzled.
“It’s true!” said Annie.
“Thank you, Annie,” the young woman said. “And thank you, Jack.” She bowed, then hurried out of the courtyard.
“Wait!” said Annie.
She started to go after the poet, but Plato stopped her.
“Come along,” he said. “The games will start soon.”
Plato then led Jack and Annie out of the Greek house back onto the dirt road.
“Girls can’t write stories,” grumbled Annie. “They can’t go to school. They can’t be in plays. I’ve had enough of ancient Greece. Let’s get out of here.”
“Wait,” said Jack. “What about the Olympics?”
“Oh, yeah,” said Annie. Her eyes got brighter. “I almost forgot.”
“Well,” said Plato slowly. “I would like to take you both to the games. I have special seats in the viewing box. However … ” He looked at Annie.
“Don’t tell me,” she said. “Girls can’t go to the Olympics either.”
Plato shook his head.
“A girl will get in terrible trouble if she goes to the games,” he said.
Annie sighed. “It’s really,
not fair,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” said Plato. “My country is a democracy. We believe in freedom for our citizens. But I’m afraid right now that only means men.”
“Annie’s right. It’s not fair,” said Jack. “I think we should go home now.”
go to the Olympics,” said Annie. “At least you can tell me about it. Take notes.”
“What about you?” Jack said.
“I’ll go back to that play at the outdoor theater,” Annie said. “Meet me there when you’re done.”
Jack didn’t want to leave Annie alone. But he also didn’t want to miss the Olympics.
“Go! Have fun!” Annie said. She began walking away. “I’ll see you later! Bye, Plato!”
“Bye, Annie,” said Plato.
Annie turned back again and waved.
“I’ll tell you all about it!” Jack called.
“This way,” said Plato.
He and Jack turned and joined the crowd heading toward the Olympic grounds.
“This is the very first day of the games,” Plato told Jack, “the day of the chariot races.”
“Oh, wow,” whispered Jack.
He couldn’t believe he was going to see a chariot race. The modern Olympic Games didn’t have chariot races.
They walked toward the race track. Plato pointed to a large building near the road.
“That is the gymnasium,” he said. “It is where our athletes train. They practice running and throwing the javelin and discus.”
“We have a gymnasium at our school in Frog Creek,” said Jack. “We call it a gym.”
“People all over the world copy us Greeks,” Plato said.
“Wait,” said Jack. “I have to take notes for Annie.”
He pulled out his notebook and wrote:
“Okay, we can go,” said Jack. He tucked his notebook under his arm.
As they moved along, Plato pointed to a beautiful tree nearby.
“The olive tree is our sacred tree,” he said. “The winners of the games will wear crowns made from its branches.”
“Oh, wow,” said Jack. And he wrote: