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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dead People at Dinner

I've recently been reading a number of works by Voltaire (Candide is absolutely hilarious if you're in the mood for an Enlightenment era soap opera) and really wish the famous philosophe was still alive so I could invite him to dinner. So that got me thinking about who I would invite to my ideal dinner party of old dead people.

(Because yes, this is what I spend my free time thinking about).

So here's my list of famous dead people (would they technically be zombies?) that I'd like to pop open a bottle of wine and share a plate of coq a vin with. (And because you all know I'm obsessed with Theodora and Hatshepsut, I've left them off the list, but if I ever invent a time machine they're at the top of my list of people to stalk. In fact, I've restricted anyone from ancient Egypt, the Byzantine Empire, or the Mongol Empire from being invited. *sigh*)

1. Voltaire- As I said, this guy was incredibly funny, (he makes my students and me laugh out loud, which is pretty impressive considering he's been dead for over 200 years) with a biting wit that meant I'd have hated to be on his bad side. Just ask Liebniz and everyone else he lambasted in Candide. Oh yeah, and he had all sorts of great ideas on social reform.

2. Theodore Roosevelt- I'm not kidding when I say I've pretty much gotten as close to stalking this dead president as I possibly can. (My students think it's creepy that I've been to his grave). Any man who can survive being shot and still give an hour long speech (while bleeding!) is pretty freaking awesome. Not to mention other cool stuff like building the Panama Canal, charting Rio Roosevelt in Brazil, and being the first Progressive President. (You know, stuff we all do in our free time).

3. Leonardo da Vinci- Because really, you'd have to be living under a rock the past 500 years to not want to meet him. I could spend hours just talking to Leo about his sketches, especially the giant crossbow (we're talking GIANT here people--27 yards across!) and his flying machine.

4. Catherine the Great- I've pretty much been obsessed with Catherine since I read her new biography by Robert Massi. The woman got the short end of the stick of life with her poxy-liked-to-play-with-dolls husband, Peter III, but things worked out pretty well once she seized the throne and he kicked the bucket. (Because her lover's brother killed him). And really, who wouldn't want to talk to one of the only women known as an "enlightened despot?"

5. Caligula- Two reasons to invite Caligula: He was born on my birthday (or vice versa) and he was crazy. If Catherine, Roosevelt, and Voltaire spent too long discussing how to improve the plight of man (all three were sort of progressive that way) and da Vinci started doodling, I could rely on Caligula to pull out his sword and make things interesting. Who wouldn't want a madman at their dinner party?

So that's my guest list. There are a number of other interesting humans I could have chosen--Jesus, Frederick II, Lucrezia Borgia--but that's my list and I'm sticking to it.

So... who would you invite to your dinner party?


Anne Gallagher said...

Without a doubt, Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, and Henry David Thoreau.

Yours is a great list. Jesus would be wicked fun at the dinner table. run out of wine? He could snap his fingers and boom, more wine. Need some more loaves and fishes...there they are. fun stuff.

Julie Dao said...

Just imagine the conversation at that dinner party! WOW! I think I'd invite all the writers of my childhood... Agatha Christie, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery. Pretty sure I'd glean some great writing tips from them :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

!!!! Now that's a dinner party one wouldn't soon forget. Da Vinci, sigh.
I think I'll stick with some who might be less likely to poison my soup (or not).
Dorothy Parker. Thomas Hardy. Edward Gorey. And these two: Grainne Ni Maille and Elizabeth I.
Actually, I'd need endless dinner parties to satisfy the desire to meet intriguing people of the past.

L.G.Smith said...

Well, you know I have a fondness for the Elizabethans. So I'd have to go with Elizabeth and Shakespeare for sure. Might balance them out with Da Vinci and Boudica. Ha, that could end up in a food fight. :))

Jemi Fraser said...

Leonardo always tops my list - such a brilliant and diverse mind! I'd also add in JRR Tolkein, MLK Jr, Einstein, Susan B Anthony or Nellie McLung & a whole pile more!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Anne--I love Audrey Hepburn! I got to dress up as her once in high school to present a report--so fun!

Julie--Agatha Christie would be wicked fun to talk to. One of my favorite books in junior high was "And Then There Were None." I'm going to have to reread it one of these days!

Tricia--Thomas Hardy is one of my favorite old-time authors. I've actually read all of his books--talk about dramatic endings!

L.G.- It was a tough choice for me between Catherine and Elizabeth. Actually, a discussion between the two of them on men would be totally interesting!

Jemi--I have a feeling most of what Einstein would say would go over my head, although I think we could have a pretty decent discussion on the use of nuclear weapons in WWII. He's on my list of witnesses when I have my students put Truman on trial for dropping the bombs on Japan.

Dawn Simon said...

Great list! I also like the ones other blog friends added in the comments!

I'll add E.B. White and Theodor Seuss Geisel. Sadly, I missed an opportunity to hear Dr. Seuss speak just months before he died.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Dawn--A boy in my third grade class--Caleb--wrote to Dr. Seuss when we had to write to our favorite author. We wrote our letters, turned them in on Friday, and then Dr. Seuss died over the weekend. :( Caleb was pretty sad!