What the Ancients Said, by no means as memorable as its title, is a modest recapitulation of Sicilian-American life in East Harlem during World War II about the Martanas who had an apothegem for every occasion such as ""Things there are, but we are not obliged to believe them."" Thus Tommy, the young narrator, can disregard an I.Q. score that's inconveniently high for his tough school; his grandmother can maintain that Churchill murdered Roosevelt in an adulterous passion for Eleanor; and his mother can spin a completely paranoid fantasy around an announcer on the Italian radio station. All of this goes along without any particular tension through a sequence of vignettes designed to bring back, more or less alive, the quality of a special kind of boyhood. An arrivederci to another Little Sicily but not much more.