O magistri sapienissimi,
In a fight between Hercules and Thor, who would win?
Yours, Piers Craddock and Will Rice,
St Paul’s School,
Dr Clattercut replies: Ah, doesn’t that take you back, Bromfield? In one’s schooldays the world seems so simple, every problem so black and white. Well, Masters Craddock and Rice, I have to tell you that even in the Year of Wonders, reality is a little bit more complicated than algebra books and rugger pitches may have led you to believe.
Prof Bromfield: Quite. In any case, Thor would obviously win, being a god.
Dr Clattercut: The matter is entirely hypothetical, but even so I don’t think it is as clear cut as you say, Bromfield. Hercules’s father is Zeus, king of the gods.
Prof Bromfield: He’s half-divine, then. But still only mortal. And wrestling a few boars and oxen and whatever — all those tedious labours—hardly puts him on a par with the god of thunder. Remember that Thor’s hammer is so heavy that only he can lift it…
Dr Clattercut: What about when Hercules took the entire weight of the heavens off Atlas’s shoulders? I daresay that’s a greater burden than any hammer.
Prof Bromfield: Well, there you have it. The hammer’s the key. Big biceps aren't going to matter a jot after a clonk with a weapon like that. You know the Norse myths, full of giants falling like skittles. Think what it sounds like when a thunderclap goes off right over your head. Rattles the furniture, eh? Well that’s Thor’s hammer heard at long distance.
Dr Clattercut: It’s hardly an even contest if Thor is going to use his hammer. I’m saying that without the hammer, a straight grappling match — then Hercules is bound to be the victor.
Prof Bromfield: Why would the god of thunder agree to fight and leave his hammer at home? Not that he needs the hammer to defeat a Greek strongman, seeing as he actually is the mightiest of all the Aesir.
Dr Clattercut: But that’s…
Prof Bromfield: And I haven’t even mentioned Thor’s magic belt yet that doubles his strength. Or his iron gloves that double it again.
Dr Clattercut: I give up.
Prof Bromfield: As would Hercules!