The Mytilene story — a truly winning diet

In 2011, a very generous donor presented our crew program with a new shell christened Mytilene (Mit-ill-EE-nee), named for a very old Greek city on an island off the coast of what is now Turkey. Why? In 429 BC, during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (according to Thucydides), Mytilene revolted against the control of Athens. For this treachery the Athenians condemned the men of Mytilene to be executed, and the women and children to be taken off into slavery (a fate worse than death to most Greeks). A boat was immediately dispatched from Athens with orders to carry out the mandate.  Next day, in a heated debate in the citizens’ assembly, the Athenians had a change of heart, voted by a narrow margin to take back the order to eradicate the people of Mytilene, and sent a second boat to prevent the massacre.  This race between the two boats was over a distance of 184 miles, the first boat with a lead of a day and a night. The second boat, with incomparably superhuman effort (fueled by barley cakes!), rowed their 45-ton ship the whole 184 miles non-stop in 24 hours, all out to catch that first boat — but failed, by perhaps 30 minutes.  Then, as the Athenian commander at Mytilene was announcing the execution decree, the second boat rowed into the harbor (see below) — and the people of Mytilene were saved.  THAT’S fueling to win — barley cakes, anyone?  In case you are wondering, barley cakes were basically barley mixed with enough honey to hold the cakes together.  Simple ingredients, amazingly powerful results — the first energy bar?


5 thoughts on “The Mytilene story — a truly winning diet

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