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Cleobis and Biton go bowling

Another story from The Week (November 14, 2008). This one's not funny (unlike this one), but it does call to mind an interesting classical parallel:

"An avid bowler from Michigan bowled his first perfect game after 45 years of trying, and promptly died. Don Doane, 62, had just rolled his final strike, say witnesses, bringing his score to an unimprovable 300, and was accepting congratulations from teammates when he suffered a massive heart attack and died instantly. 'It was like a book, a final chapter,' said teammate Todd Place. 'He threw his 300 game with all of his friends, gave each other high-fives, and it's like the story ended. He died with a smile on his face.'"

Picture 1-27Readers familiar with Herodotus will immediately see this as a modernized version of the Cleobis and Biton story (Hdt. 1.31). The Athenian sage Solon, asked by the Lydian King Croesus to name the most fortunate of men, named as second most fortunate the brothers Cleobis and Biton. When their mother needed a ride to a religious festival, but the oxen weren't yet available for her cart, they yoked themselves to it and pulled her some five miles. Everybody was impressed: people gathered around and congratulated the boys, and they congratulated the boys' mother on what great sons she had. And she, the mother, prayed to a statue of Hera that her sons might get from the goddess whatever is best for men to receive. Afterwards the boys feasted and then fell asleep and they never woke up again, and so died at the pinnacle of their accomplishments. And, importantly, because they died there was now no chance for misfortune to befall them in the future: fate, being fickle, tends to upend the lives of men given enough time.


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