Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,716 / Brendan

Posted by Eileen on August 16th, 2012


This is the third Brendan in a row that I’ve blogged, so I was pleased to have bagged the hat-trick when I saw his name on this one.

And Wow – what a hat-trick!! Regular readers will know that there could not possibly be a puzzle more up my street than this one.This blog could easily become a résumé of one of my Classical Studies lessons but I’ll try to resist being magisterial and, instead, supply links where appropriate, or this blog could run into pages. I shall not be surprised at some protests but I do hope that at least the outlines of the splendid story of the Trojan War [it’s all here] are familiar enough for solvers who are not 17s to have shared some of my delight in this theme. There are a number of other Classical references, with the usual wit and excellence of cluing that we know to expect from this setter. I don’t think there’s anything else going on – but you never know with Brendan!

Huge thanks to Brendan for what, for me, was a real gem of a puzzle.

[I’m begging indulgence for the usual typos / omissions etc, as I’m suffering somewhat from sleep deprivation: since this is A Level Results Day, I knew it would be difficult to get to sleep last night, so I stayed up well into the early hours to solve the puzzle and draft a blog, then was mightily relieved to receive a very early phone message from my grandson that he had got his required grades.  My cup is truly running over. :-) ]


1   APPLE OF DISCORD: anagram [improperly] of PROPOSED IF CLAD: this went straight in and, as the theme emerged, the cleverness of the position of this clue became apparent, since it was the APPLE OF DISCORD that sparked off the conflict …
  HORSE: anagram [off] of SHORE … and it was a [wooden] horse that broke through the investment of Troy – and what a wonderful surface!
  ALLURING: ALL [everything] + U [you said] + RING [token of love]
11  LASAGNE: SAG [drop] in LANE [a way]
12  GRENADE: DANE [European] in ERG [unit of work] all reversed [turned over]
13  ELGIN: reversal [rejected] of NIG[g]LE [half-hearted complaint]  – for Lord Elgin, the well-known looter of the marble sculptures from the Parthenon
15  SOLAR YEAR: anagram [distraught] of ROYALS ARE
17  HELLENIST: L [Latin] in anagram [translated] of THE LINES
20  HELEN: HEN [female] round [capturing] EL [heart – middle letters – of menELaus] – lovely &lit
21  ELECTRA: ELECT [bestow?] RA [artistic distinction] – Edit: ELECT  RA = bestow artistic distinction on [see comments 2,3 and 8].
23  AWAKING: A WA[r] [conflict minus its conclusion] + KING [Priam [of Troy], for example]
25  PENELOPE: P [page] + EN[v]ELOPE [covering] minus V [verse] for Odysseus’ faithful wife, who fended off numerous suitors for twenty years whle waiting for Odysseus’ return from The War
26  SHELF: H [Homer initially] in SELF [identity of someone]
27,10: BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARING GIFTS: double / cryptic definition, referring to the quotation from Virgil’s Aeneid: ‘Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes’, which, because of the several meanings of the word ‘et’ can mean ‘I fear the Greeks ‘even’ [or ‘especially’] when they bring gifts – brilliant! – and a nice topical reference from Brendan


1   ACHILLES’ HEEL: I’m sure you know the story but what a superb clue, relying on the two meanings of ‘sole’!
2   PARIS: double definition: it was Paris, of course, who found Achilles’ sole weakness – another lovely clue, made even better by a deft ellipsis
3   EMERGENCE: anagram [at sea] of GREECE MEN
4   FRAMERS: AMER [American] in [embraced by] FRS [Fellow of the Royal Society – distinguished scientist]
  ILLEGAL: ILL [harm] + E [English] + GAL [lass]
6   CIRCE: CIRC[l]E [social group minus L {left}] for the woman who attempted to charm Odysseus on his way home from The War
7   RING A BELL: hidden in captuRING A BELLigerent
14  GOLDENEYE: GOLDEN [like the apple of discord] + EYE  – sounds like [heard] I
16  REHEARSER: REHEARS [tries again] + ER [queen]
18  IN A HOLE: anagram [disturbed] of A LION HE
19  TEA LEAF: double definition: i didn’t know about this tea  but I did know the Cockney rhyming slang for thief
22  THETA: THE and A [articles] about T [first letter of Trojan] and Theta [th] is the first letter of Thersites, one of the Greek warriors in The War – another brilliant clue
24  IRENE: hidden in dIRE NEcessity: IRENE is the Greek goddess of peace

48 Responses to “Guardian 25,716 / Brendan”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Morning Eileen, and thanks for blogging.

    I too thought this was a treat from Brendan. I don’t think there should be many complaints, because even if you didn’t study classics, the story and protagonists are pretty well known; and those I wasn’t familiar with were clearly clued. And like a good puzzle should, it’s made me want to go and read up about it a bit more.

    Thanks to Brendan for a fine crossword.

    (My cup runneth over too …)

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I wondered if you’d be the blogger!

    I checked and Royal Academicians are indeed elected (by the existing RAs) so ELECTRA seems perfectly OK to me.

    I’m no classicist but it was all extremely gettable (had to thrash out the anagram for 1ac) and fun along the way.

  3. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Brendan

    A relatively quick solve of a very enjoyable puzzle from Brendan.

    The theme soon became clear – 1d once solved became an &lit for entry into it.

    27,10 was my COD. I also liked 15a a lot for its misdirection.

    Like Eileen, I was a little in doubt about bestow/elect.

  4. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Neil: ELECT RA makes perfect sense – and a great clue.

    Great news, K’s D! And while you’re in reading mood, I’d recommend Sophocles’ ‘Electra’!

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen – I’m glad you had fun and you have certainly done it justice. I’m a B grade classicist but got 1a at first glance and the theme followed swiftly, including the well- known quote at 27, 10. The only delay to a rapid conclusion was the gunpowder reference in 19d until I remembered Chifonie had it on 1 Feb. Last in was thus 23a, a nice clue.

  6. Rick says:

    I agree Eileen – a lovely puzzle from Brendan (right up my street too!). 27A/10D and the 1D-2D combination were particular favourites. I also agree with tupu about the excellent misdirection in 15A. What a great start to the day! (-:

  7. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. As soon as I started this puzzle I knew it would be right up your street and wondered if you would be blogging it! It was a treat to find that you were!

    Lovely puzzle from Brendan. While I’m no classicist, I didn’t find anything obscure here — although I had to puzzle out the anagram at 1ac because I had forgotten about the apple.

  8. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog – a fortunate coincidence of blogger and puzzle, although it’s also interesting to see the thoughts of broadminded non-classicists… I imagine Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, which won the Orange prize and has sold loads, might have inspired this. It was certainly fun but the consensus seems to be emerging that it was very easy for Brendan.

    21a is one of those “don’t separate!” clues. Brendan isn’t saying elect means bestow, he’s saying “elect RA” means “bestow artistic distinction on”, which it does. (E.g. preface with “These are the people we plan to…”)

  9. Eileen says:

    Quite right, Thomas: I thought my comment 4 made it clear that I saw the construction of ELECTRA once Neil had pointed it out @2

  10. aztobesed says:

    I really enjoyed this despite a ‘usual suspects’ quality about it as a whole. Now, has he put in some twinkles with the juxtaposition of some clues? ‘illegal tea-leaf’, Penelope and ‘shelf’, Electra awaking, Hellenist Helen, horse alluring etc? Timeo Brendaos…

  11. John Appleton says:

    Great puzzle; like K’sD @1, I have a mind to do a bit of reading on the subject during lunch. The themed solutions around the perimiter were all first in (Apple of Discord being a guess from the anagram fodder), after which, much of the rest fell in quite quickly.

  12. Robi says:

    Glad that you got this one to blog, Eileen.

    Thanks for the parsing of AWAKING, which I failed to see. Not my cup of tea although I knew most except APPLE OF DISCORD.

  13. Robi says:

    P.S. What do you, Eileen, think of this Wikiness: ‘Today many scholars agree that the Trojan War is based on a historical core of a Greek expedition against the city of Illium.’

  14. Thomas99 says:

    Robi @13-
    There was an interesting edition of In Our Time (Radio 4) earlier this year about it. It’s still available on the BBC website as a podcast. The conclusion seemed to be that the historical core was probably rather diffuse and not much like the single 10-year conflict in the Iliad etc. It’s well worth listening to, as the series usually is, just about as good as intelligent (and live!) radio gets.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi Robi @13

    Sorry for the delay – visitation from my jubilant grandson! Unfortunately [or perhaps fortunately!] I have to go out very shortly, or I could write a thesis on this. I’m fascinated by the whole area of myth [‘a story … esp one offering an explanaton of some fact or pnenomenon’ – Chambers] eg the story of Theseus and the Minotaur and the Labyrinthine palace at Knossos. The story of Heinrich Schliemann, excavator of Troy, is well worth reading.

  16. William says:

    Thank you Eileen, you were eminently qualified to blog this!

    RCW hasn’t joined yet but his comments of yesterday re Classicism now seem quite augural.

    I think it’s doubly clever of Brendan to have set this puzzle in such a way as non-classicists like myself can complete it and get interested enough to find out more.

    Bravo, Brendan.

  17. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I must have heard you William!
    I am also no classicist which obviously made this more difficult for me than some of you.
    THAT IS NOT A COMPLAINT (mild or otherwise).
    I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    As a mathematician I always found it useful to be able to use a few remembered facts to construct others when needed. This puzzle was like that.
    Last in pretty simultaneously were ‘Elgin’ and ‘goldeneye’.
    I liked 22d for its cryptic definition ( I expected some complaints about that). I also liked ‘Hellenist’ for its misdirection in the definition.

  18. crypticsue says:

    Superb stuff thank you Brendan and lucky Eileen too (and congrats to the clever grandson)

  19. Robi says:

    Thanks Thomas99 @14; in case anyone else is interested, the podcast is at

  20. Jerry says:

    Nice to see such an enthusiastic blog, and such positive comments! One small plea: I’ve seen at least one 225 blog, where it was possible to see the original clues, by hovering over the clue numbers (others, where the clue had been copied-and-pasted in its entirety, but I imagine that’s a bit of a fag to do); either way, being able to see the whole clue, for me, assists enormously with reading the blog. (I stress this isn’t a complaint – I really enjoyed this blog, as I did the original puzzle – just a suggestion.) Thank you, Eileen!

  21. tupu says:

    Hi RCW

    I did not notice a misdirection in the definition of 17a (Greek scholar) which I read simply as using L (for Latin) in *the lines. Are you thinking of L for scholar or of other readings of Greek scholar?

    PS I left you a longish comment in General Discussion the other day.

  22. Rob says:

    Lovely puzzle but am I the only one who thought 23a was an anagram of Priam eg and hence came up with ‘epigram’ – a sort of ‘stirring conclusion’? Having then filled in 26a correctly I could only come up with ‘Mafia’ as the last word for 27,10 which seemed to fit the City perfectly?!!

  23. MarkN says:

    What a belter!

  24. Barry says:

    Loved this. As I started my lunch I stared and stared and eventually got one. I thought this was a bad day. Then I got two. Then more. And I’m no classics scholar (I only knew 1a from reading The Principia Discordia and having many Erisian friends).

    By the middle of lunch the answers were flying in. 23a was last, and I got it wrong. Not knowing for sure who Priam was, I thought maybe he was the chap in charge of the labyrinth with the minotaur. In went ‘amazing’.

  25. rowland says:

    Yes, very good. Not big on Classics either here, but I knew all the entries vis their continuing usage.

    ‘Explanaton’ Eileen? Sounds like an old Greek encyclopaedia!!

    Many thanks to all concerned,

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks, I read your interesting view elsewhere. I will add a thought later.
    Re: 17 ac. I read the cryptic correctly but those particular letters led me to interpret ‘Greek scholar’ as the name of a specific person.
    As my knowledge of such folk is incomplete I carried on with that thought for a long time.

  27. Thomas99 says:

    Jerry @20 –
    I raised this in the General Discussion blog and the response was basically that they didn’t want to impose too many conditions on bloggers, preferring to leave them to blog in their own style (they are after all doing it for nothing so it is a bit harsh to give them extra work). I certainly sympathize with you though. Actually with the Guardian I’m not so fussed as you can recover the whole solution on the Guardian site with a couple of clicks. With the FT you have to hold on to your paper copy; and with the Independent there’s no “solution” button, and after the day on which it appears it can only be reaccessed online via Croswordsolver (and a rather irritating process involving URLs), which I have at home but can’t download onto my work computer. It was a bit frustrating not being able to see the completed Nimrod grid when all the discussion was going on on Tuesday/Wednesday!

  28. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. I had forgotten about gunpowder tea even though I had seen it here at 15^^2 :(

    I’m still kicking myself over 8a: I had H_R_E and I had (shore)* so the answer had to be HORSE but I still failed to see the relevance even after filling in all those other Trojan answers :(

    As a separate matter I am reminded of one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Two neighbouring countries are getting close to war with each other, after having fought an earlier one. At the frontier each army has brought along a hollow horse!

  29. Jerry says:

    @Thomas99 (27) Thanks for that, although I’m not totally sure we aren’t talking at cross-purposes: When I’m reading a blog such as this one, I can see the solutions (and in any case never go to a blog without completing the crossword first); it’s the clues I can’t see, and frequently can’t perfectly remember. :) But I take your point about not asking too much of kind volunteers!

  30. Robi says:

    Thomas 99@27; perhaps you could give in ‘General Discussion’ some more info about how to reaccess the Independent crosswords.

  31. Eileen says:

    Hi Jerry @20 and Thomas99 @27

    Re supplying the clues: I was involved in some discussion about this a while ago and I’m not anxious to reopen that can of worms. However, I’ll repeat what I’ve said before.

    It’s a fairly recent innovation for bloggers to provide the clues, by whatever means. I had always assumed that readers would have their puzzle in front of them when they visited the blog, anyway, but I can see that that is not always possible. Over a year ago, I started cutting and pasting the clues in my blogs of Saturday puzzles, because I have all week to do it but, as you’ve rightly guessed, it is a more lengthy process. I explained that my computer skills were not up to using the very useful software available to do the job more quickly but people found that hard / impossible to believe. I assure you it’s absolutely true! ;-)

    I’ll have a go at doing it on a weekday puzzle, just to see how much longer it takes, and let you know. I’ve always considered the priority to be to get the blog posted as soon as possible but I’d be interested to hear what others think.

    rowland @25

    I don’t know what a pnemonenon is, either! Both my typos, not Chambers’ – I did say I was in a hurry to get out!

  32. Robi says:

    Eileen, I sympathise. However, without any software you could click and drag where all the clues are below the online crossword, right-click and ‘copy.’ You would then have all the clues in one go to paste into another document. That may (or may not!) help.

  33. Eileen says:

    Yes, robi, as I said, that’s what I do on Saturdays – but then I also underline definitions and show the clues in a different colour and it all takes time!

  34. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Brendan for a super puzzle and Eileen for the blog. Congrats. to your grandson btw.

    Loved it, like everybody else. Great clueing brought back childhood memories of classic entertainment, which it was for me rather than study!

    Keep them coming, Brendan!!

    Giovanna x

  35. Jerry says:

    Thanks Eileen, and please don’t feel under any pressure to add to what you already do! Great puzzle, Brendan, and a lovely blog, Eileen! Thanks to you both.

  36. snigger says:

    As the theme finally dropped, I imagined Eileen flying through this one, whilest not trying to imagine her looking over my shoulder and raing her eyebrows and shaking her head at my somewhat limited knowlege of the Classics.

    I will join the others and also click on the links provided.

    re yesterdays comments – R C Whiting is the Guardian Crossword editor and i claim my £10.

  37. PeeDee says:

    Thank you Eileen, I got stuck on AWAKING. Really great puzzle, what a treat for you to blog!

  38. Graham H says:

    Um, Ok first of al thanks to all. I really enjoyed the crossword and the blog. I finished the former in about an hour.

    My problem (why it took me so long) was ‘Looter of antiquities’ as Elgin. I thought it had to be misdirection (despite reverse niggle), because that is just too crude and mostly untrue – at least as far as I now. Like, the parthenon frieze was bought and paid for – so irrespetive of whether that was morally wise or good for the locals, looting doesn’t seem correct at all (again, from the little I know). Anyway, that one (perhaps partisan) cluse annoyed me. I really wanted it to have a different answer…

  39. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Graham H @38. I find you protestation on behalf of Lord Elgin rather surprising.

    Whether he was a “looter” or not there is at least one complete nation that seem to believe he was. (As well as several British nationals including “Brendan” it would seem) This would seem to make the cluing fair.

    By the way this is from the British Museum site, who of course would never call Elgin a looter!

    “It is a popular misconception that Elgin purchased the antiquities. In fact the firman was granted to him as a personal gesture after he encouraged the British forces in their fight to drive the French out of Egypt, which was then an Ottoman possession.”

    Thanks eileen for the blog and thanks to Brendan for the crossword. Enjoyable if not a little easy for Brendan!

  40. nametab says:

    Rob @22: No you weren’t alone concerning EPIGRAM; I gradually realised it couldn’t be, when I solved all the crossing clues separately.
    Thanks to Eileen and Brendan – took me back to studying Latin which for some reason included lots of Greek mythology. Lovely crossword.

  41. johnmcc says:

    Great puzzle – but I stuck on 23. Got it into my head that it was “amazing” and couldn’t get past it. Everything else went quickly. Thanks to B & E.

  42. Paul B says:

    Pre-Elgin comes Prospero. Go figure.

  43. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Brendan and Eileen
    Enjoyed this a lot – a good theme mixed in both clues and answers. Am not all that strong on Greek mythology and needed help with parsing of 4, 20 and 23.

    Last in was Penelope whom I didn’t know and a tricky clue until the ‘penny’ dropped.

    Great work!

  44. Smoz says:

    Very late to finish as usual, but a great crossword inspiring me, a scientist to look at the classics. Loved 13a and 17a and beware of Greeks. Whole made me smile.

  45. Huw Powell says:

    I’m running behind on my Grauniad puzzles (I just print them and solve them before and after work, sometimes at least), hence my late comment.

    This puzzle is almost perfect. I’d say a 99/100. It should be enshrined in a museum somewhere. A lovely theme, that was not pushed to the point of horrible strained clues to involve every single one, that seems to touch every important aspect of the topic one way or another.

    As people have said, it ran a bit easy by Brendan standards, but I think that was to make it fair – some of the themed clues might be obscure, but the clue gets the solver there eventually – like 1A for me.

    The ellipsis at 1/2D is exactly how such a gimmick or tool should be used.

    TEA LEAF, my penultimate answer, took an hour on its own to convert to ink I swear. I had to read pages and pages about tea on wikipedia before “gunpowder” came up (thank you Eileen for making me fix the capitalisation there!)… and then the rhyming slang suddenly became clear!

    Anyway… this puzzle deserves some sort of prize.

    Thanks for the delightful and enthusiastic blog, Eileen, and congratulations. What can I say that I haven’t already said regarding this wonderful accomplishment from our friend Brendan? Cheers, and for me, you just raised the bar for what a cryptic puzzle can be.

  46. KeithS says:

    This is the first time I’ve ever commented on fifteensquared, but I couldn’t resist the chance to say how much I enjoyed this entertaining puzzle from Brendan. particularly the way the theme was handled – not too much of an ask for non-classicists like myself, and not forced unnaturally into every single clue.

    And, might I add my thanks to Eileen and all of you. Despite years of enjoying crosswords on an occasional basis, I don’t claim any great facility with them, and generally only attempt the Guardian on a weekly basis, and on real paper – I have a subscription to the Guardian Weekly here in Australia. It was discovering these blogs some time back that made me appreciate just how clever some of the clues I’d given up on really were, and encouraged me to see these as tractable after all!

    In this one, I started with Grenade and Elgin – sorry, but I leapt there as soon as I saw the definition, he does have that reputation, deserved or not – and ended up with Theta, reflecting that science at least teaches you your greek letters. I suspect that before I discovered fifteensquared, I’d have given up rather earlier and then looked in irritated disbelief at the solution the next week. Thank you all again.

  47. Eileen says:

    Hi KeithS

    It’s very good to hear from you. Thank you for your comment – please come again soon!

  48. Uhudla says:

    Again spotting the answer is occasionally easier than parsing the cryptic part. With E—N, spotting 12a “Looter of antiquities” as Elgin was easy; figuring out that mild complaint = “niggle” was not. (Reminiscent of Richard Pryor’s pointing out that by electing Reagan the US had a backwards nager for President.) Similarly 25a “Penelope” was far more obvious as “warrior’s faithful wife” than covering suggested envelope. 16d rehearser was tough but fair, and once I realized 23a did not begin with “g” (stirring conclusion) I could get both 19d and A-A-ING, which through brute force led to awaking.

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