The Tale of Troy
by Roger Lancelyn Green
The obvious sequel to The Tales of the Greek Heroes is a book about the twilight
of the heroic age, which climaxed and ended in the Trojan War. Like the other book
by Lancelyn Green, this one sets in order the bits and scraps, rags and tags that
one finds all out of order in the epics of Homer, the dramas of Euripedes, and other
Greek poets. It smooths out the contradictions, connects all the causes and effects,
and shows the links between numerous people and events as clearly as can be; and it
does nearly all of this on the firm authority of ancient Greek authors.
This is a tremendous feat of scholarship. But what's even greater is the simplicity,
strength, and immediate appeal of Lancelyn Green's writing. You hardly feel you are
studying the fruit of a lifetime of research. You hardly seem to have to work at
all, as a great story teller brings a world of great stories vividly to life. The
remote dawn of human history seems to hover within reach, earthy and human, yet
aglow with otherworldly beauty, aflame with a savagery we wish, in vain, we could
regard as alien to our world.
Here is the straight dope on Paris - not the city, but the Trojan youth whose choice
between three rival goddesses set a colossal, world-changing tragedy in train; he
doesn't seem quite as nice at the end as at first. Here is the skinny on Helen,
whose beauty launched a thousand ships and ignited a war that lasted over a decade
and led to the destruction of Troy. Here are the admirable, doomed Hector; the
bitter, volatile Achilles; the oily Agamemnon; the whiny Menelaus; the wily
Odysseus; the self-destroying Ajax.
Here are Cassandra, doomed to prophesy in vain; vengeful Clytemnestra, whose gave
her husband a welcome-home shirt with a surprise sewn into it; dutiful Orestes, who
risked an unimaginable fate to restore his father's honor; faithful Penelope, who
put up with more than your average war widow; and a teenage psychopath named
Neoptolemus, who makes you wonder what the ancient world would have been like on
Can all of that fit into one book, and still be fun to read? If you doubt it, you
need only pick up this light volume by a master of way-more-than-twice-told tales.
Recommended Age: 11+
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