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Songs on Bronze: The Greek Myths Made Realby Nigel Spivey
Synopses & Reviews
A vivid, uninhibited retelling of the classic Greek stories
Songs on Bronze is the first major retelling of Greek mythology in half a century; a set of lively, racy, dramatic versions of the great myths, which, in a multicultural society, are recognized more than ever as stories without equal.
Most of us would like to know the Greek myths better than we do, and books like Seamus Heaney's Beowulf have demonstrated the power of ancient texts to enchant and enthrall us. And yet the modern translations of the Greek myths have sought to instruct, to edify, or to impart a personal philosophy. Songs on Bronze is different. With this book, Nigel Spivey--a young Cambridge classicist and rising star as a documentary host--gives us the Greek myths as the spellbinding stories they are. In bold, sensuous prose, he tells of Demeter and Persephone, of Jason and the Argonauts, of the wrath of Achilles and the travels of Odysseus, of Oedipus's crime and Orpheus's excursion into the underworld. In his hands, these stories are revealed anew as outsize tales of love and strife, of secret compacts and open rivalries, of lust and desire.
Songs on Bronze is a fresh revision of the classics that is likely to become a classic in its own right.
"Psychological realism infuses Greek myths as reimagined by Cambridge classicist Spivey. Thus Herakles sounds as if he were confessing to a therapist when he explains his bravery: 'It's an act, isn't it? The power of make-believe. The odd thing is... promise you won't laugh... I used to get fired up by believing that my opponent was some maniac — yes, a maniac — coming after my wife and children.' Spivey's heroes, as a result, are emotionally accessible but divested of their frightening grandeur. Their adventures still make for rollicking good tales, of course, and Spivey is at his best when clipping his diction and telling it straight; neatly closing one story with Odysseus overcoming his reluctance to go to war, Spivey writes: 'Odysseus shrugged. His forebodings told him otherwise. His armor was rusting on hooks in an outhouse. Yet he went to fetch it.' Spivey's language is sometimes pleasingly epigrammatic: Eros is 'zero's opposite.' But too often he dresses up classical myths in togas of pop psychology. After Pandora's box is opened, for instance, we are told Prometheus and his brother 'knew their world would never be the same.' The Greek myths are formidable, but apparently they do have an Achilles heel: clichd English makes them go limp. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This is the first major, vivid retelling of classic Greek mythology in half a century; a set of lively, racy, dramatic versions of the great myths, which, in a multicultural society, are recognized more than ever as stories without equal.
About the Author
Nigel Spivey is the author of The Ancient Olympics: A History, among other books. A professor of classics at Cambridge, Spivey, born in 1958, will be the host of a forthcoming public-television documentary about the origins of art and how it defines us as human.
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