Metu of Vos sat in the city center for a full three hours before his turn came with the noted wise man, Elton-Sira. The wise man was a little tired and hungry and having experienced the pain of discussing with Metu, the famed Idiot of Vos, before, it was not surprising that he tried to postpone it a little.
“Ahh, Metu. I am hungry. Would you be so good as to fetch me something to eat so I may be fortified for your learned question?”
Metu was very pleased with the special attention and began to rise to do as he was bid.
“But wait, Metu, you must give me your question before you depart so I can apply my best judgment to it while you are away.”
Metu puffed out his chest and felt myself exceedingly wise that one such as Elton-Sira needed time to consider his question. “Thank you, Oh wise one. My question involves the well-known syllogism:
All human beings die.
All men are human beings.
All men die.
But my question has to do with women. Does this syllogism mean that women do not necessarily die?”
Elton-Sira nearly choked trying to contain his laughter. He was in the habit of wearing a large hat and tilted it forward. He managed to calmly say, “A worthy question indeed. Now fetch me some food while I–consider it.”
Metu sprang up and immediately went to the stand of a seller of meat pies he knew in the next street.
While he was away Elton-Sira decided he would play a joke at Metu’s expense. He asked a female friend of his, a scribe named Tourd who was visiting from another city, to sit in his place. He put his robe and large hat on her and asked her to hide her face with the hat until signaled otherwise. “I learned the ability to throw my voice years ago and I will speak for you. Please, Tourd, nod when I speak so it looks like you are me.”
Tourd agreed and Elton-Sira stood behind a pillar.
Metu returned presently and set the meat pie in front of the disguised Tourd.
Elton-Sira’s voice came forth and seemed to come from Tourd. “My thanks, Metu.” Tourd nodded. “Please rephrase your question to me.”
A crowd of Lirdans had grown as word spread of a great joke being perpetrated. And Metu happily repeated his incredible syllogism and question to the growing audience.
“Metu!” Elton-Sira said after a pause. “Your question is important and serious for it centers on a point of Logic which is a powerful force.”
Metu puffed out his chest as the crowd looked on.
Elton-Sira went on, “So. Let us examine your premises.”
“My premises–” Metu began. He was suddenly deflated again. He didn’t really know much about logic.
“Yes. Traditionally the first premise is taken to be the major premise and so your ‘All human beings die’ is assumed to be that.”
“Yes–of course.” Metu agreed.
“Your minor premise is that ‘All men are human beings’, is that not so?”
“Yes, master!” Metu was happy he could add so materially to the discussion. And sagely winked to the audience around him.
“Ah–but is it so? What about the other sex you framed your question with: women. This is crucial. Do you think women should be included within the group ‘men’ or not?”
“I–I don’t know.” Metu was confused. “I suppose that I do since–”
But the master quickly interrupted. “Are you sure about that, Metu? Are you sure that women should be included with men?”
Metu made a nervous laugh and then amended with “No. How foolish of me. Women should not be included, master.”
“And why not, Metu?”
“Women–” Metu was far out on a limb and for once he knew it. “Women look–different from men and therefore are–different?”
“But I look different from you too. Does that mean I am a woman? Or that I am not a human being?”
Metu was hopelessly lost.
“I–I would never argue that you are a woman.”
“No–” then Elton-Sira began to cough violently and Tourd obligingly began to shake the hat back and forth. “Your logic is so surpassingly formidable, though, Metu. You have said that you have no argument to the statement that I am a woman.”
“Master?” Metu was a little shocked at this turn in reasoning.
“I–” Elton-Sira coughed again. “–I cannot escape your logic, Metu–. I have been proved different from you and so I must stand transformed by your logic. I therefore rise, transformed into a woman!”
Tourd stood up at this and swept off her hat to the loud applause and laughter of the assembled crowd.
Metu’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. Those near him prolonged the laughter by swearing what Metu had said before turning and running away through the crowd “How can these people laugh at what I have done? I did not mean to–oh what have I done?”
Metu got through most of the crowd, but Elton-Sira’s voice came over their heads, and Metu was haunted by the words for a long time.
“But Metu–you have done me a great favor! Now that I am no longer a man I won’t die!”
Metu was so troubled by what he had done that he refused to go into that part of Vos ever again. Nor could anyone persuade him to use logic ever again even though many tried to bring it into arguments with him.
This is a falsestory of Metu of Vos and it is as false as truth can be.