|A Roman copy of a third-century Greek bust of Alexander the Great, with
characteristic "leonine mane." (© Creative Commons
Attribution 2.0 Generic/Richard Mortel)
In this year’s Martia Dementia face-off between mythological monsters and military leaders of the ancient world, the monsters gained an edge early in the contest—suggesting that supernatural powers might always trump a talent for battle formations and ingenuity in warfare. However, Alexander the Great proved an early contender, handily beating the taraxippoi, or horse ghosts, which were no match for Alexander’s trusty steed Bucephalus. Another general with some early successes, Constantine the Great, struggled against the Erinyes, who hoped to gain vengeance for all of the family members that the emperor slaughtered in his rise to power. Constantine was triumphant, though, continuing all the way to the Elite Eight, when he was unable to hold out against the Hydra.
Most contests, nonetheless, reinforced the utter dominance of mythological creatures. Nessus, bearing Heracles’s poison-dipped arrow, overcame the defenses of Mithridates, the so-called Poison King, whose famed resistance to potent potions was poor protection in this instance. Creatures from the likes of the Minotaur to the harpies to Scylla and Charbydis all moved past the first round without difficulties. Medusa proved most powerful of all, her stony glare defeating opponent after opponent.
The final showdown between Medusa and Alexander the Great was, quite literally, a battle of epic proportions. Medusa had already demonstrated that in a contest of coiffures, she reigned supreme: in the first round, her magnificent serpentine mane bested Rhodogune of Parthia and her tangled tresses (Rhodogune, who even quelled a rebellion with her vow to leave her hair unbrushed until she achieved victory!). But in the end, Medusa had to face another figure with almost godly hair—Alexander the Great and his luxuriant, leonine waves. Medusa succumbed, leaving Alexander as the victor. As in life, Alexander the Great remained undefeated in battle in Martia Dementia 2020.
Thank you to all who participated this year in Martia Dementia, and many congratulations to our bracket winners! First prize goes to Jeremy Ho, a student at William Allen Middle School (Moorestown, NJ). With forty-nine correct picks, Jeremy closely edged out his classmate, Noah Keene, who won second prize with forty-seven correct picks. Third place was hotly contested: while several participants correctly selected forty-six game winners, only two had chosen figures that made it all the way to the Final Four. Congratulations to Lauren Nash, student at New Trier High School (Winnetka, IL) and Evelyn Beckman, upper school Latin teacher at Bullis School (Potomac, MD)! The most abysmal bracket was awarded to another student at New Trier High School, who not only made a mere eight correct predictions, but also failed to select any figures that progressed past the second round.
Hoping to win big in next year’s Martia Dementia contest? Third place winner Evelyn Beckman has some words of wisdom for participants:
I didn't think that I would win and honestly didn't stress too much over my picks for each round. Therefore, I will offer this from Ovid's Amores 3.4: "cui peccare licet, peccat minus" (she who is permitted to make mistakes, makes fewer mistakes).
There you have it—your Martia Dementia 2020 winners! Once again, thank you to all participants, who helped make this year’s contest a resounding success. Have strong feelings about this year’s winners? Hope to see a particular ancient figure featured in next year’s contest? Tweet @BCPublishers what and who you would like to see and include the hashtag #MartiaDementia or give feedback in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!