Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments

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The Antikythera Mechanism: A Shocking Discovery from Ancient Greece.

Then one day I found myself in front of my laptop, typing furiously. The words on the screen were Patroclus's, and 10 years later they became The Song of Achilles. In celebration of this Latin and Greek revival, here are ten of my favorite classical works. Ranging from the farcical to the deeply moving, the Metamorphoses presents hundreds of myths of transformation, all in Ovid's witty and passionate style.

Perhaps this is perverse of me, but I particularly enjoy some of Ovid's most disturbed heroines, like Myrrha, who falls in love with her father. Ovid manages the tricky manoeuvre of awakening our sympathy to the girl's desires without diminishing our sense of horror at her actions. The kind, wise and thoughtful god Prometheus his name literally means forethought might be considered the first advocate of social justice.

He defied Zeus's injunctions against aiding humans, daring to steal fire on our behalf, teach us the arts of civilisation and show us how to protect ourselves from the gods' greed. For this he was punished cruelly: chained to a cliff and condemned to have eagles tear out his liver every day for all eternity. Aeschylus's Prometheus is a figure of tremendous strength and dignity, who gladly suffers for the good he has done.

Sadly, we only have the first of the trilogy that tells his story. Loosely inspired by the myth of Geryon and Heracles, this "novel in verse" conjures heart-stoppingly beautiful images on every page.

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Its deceptively simple language has a fiery, unearthly clarity and bone-deep wit: Carson's sentences ring out like bells. The story is moving, and its hero, Geryon, a little red boy with wings who falls in love with the wrong person, is unforgettable. There is no book I have read quite like it.

Ancient Greek novels. The fragments - Google книги

Is it cheating to include them both? The first is Homer's action-packed and psychologically acute paean to a single man's rage. The second is the tumultuous journey of a war veteran struggling to get home to his family. Both are bursting with incident, poetry and amazing characters that grab the attention. When I began writing my own novel, I found myself constantly having to rein in digressions trying to include them all. Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare. When I was in college, a friend asked me to direct this "problem play" set during the Trojan war.

I knew little about Shakespeare at the time, but fell quickly in love with this outstanding and challenging play.

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Its dark comedy and bitterly satiric portraits of Homeric heroes have a startlingly modern sensibility. Arguably its most famous figure is the scurrilous soldier Thersites, who comments with acid precision on the folly he sees around him: "Wars and lechery," he sneers. Sappho's gorgeous, gem-like poems limn their subjects in gold.

Whether the focus is a young woman, an apple on the highest branch or the narrator's jealousy, Sappho brings them all to life with sensual, visceral and breathtaking beauty. No wonder that Plato called her "the tenth muse". I have loved this particular tragedy since I first read it as a teenager.


Pentheus, prince of Thebes, refuses to worship the new god Dionysus, and the god takes bloody revenge. What makes the play so gripping is how eminently sympathetic Pentheus is: a stubborn, underdog rationalist who stands up to a bullying zealot. Haven't we all felt like drawing the line sometimes? In one memorable ancient production, Pentheus's head-on-a-spike was played by the real life head of Crassus, member of the first triumvirate with Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar. The story of the Greek general's disastrous return home after the Trojan war.

Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments
Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments
Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments
Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments
Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments
Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments
Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments Ancient Greek Novels: The Fragments

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