by Mary Renault - £8.99 Little, Brown Book Group (2015)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781844089604 | ISBN 10: 1844089606
In a masterful novel that vividly recreates the world of Ancient Greece, Mary Renault tells the story of Simonides, an ugly boy destined to create beauty through his extraordinary poetic talent. Combining the scholarship of a historian with the imagination of a great novelist, Mary Renault brings the ancient world vividly to life.
In the story of the great lyric poet Simonides, Mary Renault brings alive a time in Greece when tyrants kept an unsteady rule and poetry, music, and royal patronage combined to produce a flowering of the arts.
Born into a stern farming family on the island of Keos, Simonides escapes his harsh childhood through a lucky apprenticeship with a renowned Ionian singer. As they travel through 5th century B.C. Greece, Simonides learns not only how to play the kithara and compose poetry, but also how to navigate the shifting alliances surrounding his rich patrons. He is witness to the Persian invasion of Ionia, to the decadent reign of the Samian pirate king Polykrates, and to the fall of the Pisistratids in the Athenian court. Along the way, he encounters artists, statesmen, athletes, thinkers, and lovers, including the likes of Pythagoras and Aischylos. Using the singer's unique perspective, Renault combines her vibrant imagination and her formidable knowledge of history to establish a sweeping, resilient vision of a golden century.
(Price & availability last checked: August 2015)