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Ἀρχόμενος πρώτης σελίδος χορὸν ἐξ Ἑλικῶνος
—Batrachomyomachia, Lines 1-6
The Batrachomyomachia (Βατραχομυομαχία) is an ancient Greek epic in the tradition of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, which tackles the grave subjects of war and revenge, as the accidental murder of a prince leads the two armies into conflict.
Two armies composed of mice and frogs, respectively.
One of the ancient "Beast Epics", the Batrachomyomachia details a day-long battle between mice and frogs as a mock epic, parodying the genre (and making Parody Older Than Feudalism). The approximately three-hundred line poem's authorship is disputed: the Romans attributed it to Homer, while Plutarch called it the work of Pigres of Halicarnassus. Some modern scholars remain unconvinced and point instead to a poet in the time of Alexander the Great.
The mouse prince Crumb-snatcher comes to a lake for a drink when he encounters Puff-jaw, king of the frogs. They meet cordially, and Puff-jaw offers to bear his guest across the lake to his home. In the middle of the lake, however, a watersnake appears and the panicked Puff-jaw dives for safety, leaving the hapless Crumb-snatcher to drown.
His death is witnessed by the mice and, of course, This Means War
And so their day-long battle is described with all the elements of the epic genre: arming scenes, divine participation, character epithets, epic battle scenes, etc. A plethora of epic conventions, all used to describe warring mice and frogs. Thus in modern times, the word "batrachomyomachia" and its various translations has come to mean "a silly conflict."
- Badass: Among the frogs, Rueful is mentioned as the greatest and compared to Ares. Slice-snatcher is the best of the mice, threatening to rout the entire army of the frogs.
- Bathos: You have the whole epic style, complete with the gods watching over the conflict, and it's about mice and frogs.
- Bearer of Bad News: Lick-platter, who brings news of Crumb-snatcher's death to the mice.
- Blatant Lies: Puff-jaw completely denies having anything to do with Crumb-snatcher's death.
- Bolt of Divine Retribution: Zeus releases his bolt to try to frighten the mice into retreat and save the frogs from destruction. The mice continue fighting anyway.
- The Cavalry: The crabs, which force the mice into retreat at the end of the day.
- Civilized Animal: They do go to battle armed with spears and wearing armour.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Slice-snatcher would have routed all the frog warriors if Zeus hadn't intervened.
- Divine Intervention: Zeus finally sends in reinforcements (crabs) to aid the frogs and force an end to the battle.
- Wicked Weasel: Crumb-snatcher is introduced having escaped γαλέης κίνδυνον ("the danger of the weasel").
- Frogs and Toads: Naturally.
- Gorn: Just as violent as the Iliad... just with mice and frogs.
- I Am X, Son of Y
- Top God: Zeus.
- Lock and Load Montage: The two arming scenes, conventions of the epic genre.
- Mouse Trap: One killed one of Crumb-snatcher's brothers.
- Mouse World
- The Muse: Invoked at the start, as traditional in epics.
- Narrative Poem
- Nominal Importance: Completely averted. Though we don't get much information about these characters besides their names, fathers' names, and how they die or kill their enemy.
- Pass the Popcorn: Minus the popcorn, of course, but Athena and the other gods would rather be entertained by the mice and the frogs' conflict than help them.
- Revenge: The mice declare war seeking vengeance for Crumb-snatcher's death.
- Rule of Personification Conservation: An epic focusing on mice and frogs for the purpose of parody.
- Sacred Hospitality: The frog king Puff-jaw offers to recieve Crumb-snatcher as a guest before he takes him across the lake and accidentally drowns him.
- Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Leans far more to the Talking Animal side of the scale, though the frogs and mice do wear armour and wield spears.
- Snakes Are Evil: A watersnake causes Puff-jaw's panic and, inadvertently, Crumb-snatcher's death.
- Super Drowning Skills: Crumb-snatcher's inability to swim and his abandonment by Puff-jaw sets off the conflict.
- Talking Animal
- This Means War
- War God: Ares and Athena.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?
- (Beginning, first I pray to the choir to come down from Helicon / into my heart on account of the song of the page, / which I newly placed in writing on my knee, / that immense conflict, that clamorous deed of Ares, / praying to cast in all ears of mortals / how the mice proved their valour on the frogs)
- (Frog-Mouse Battle)
- (There also existed the lost Γερανομαχία, Ἀραχνομαχία, and Ψαρομαχία: battles of cranes, spiders, and sparrows)
- (bean-pod greaves, skin breastplates, and peanut-shell helmets for the mice; mallow-leaf greaves, beet-leaf breastplates, and snail-shell helmets for the frogs)
- (Except for much of the battle the gods prefer to amuse themselves watching than help either side)