Like Faye Levine (Solomon and Sheba, p. 466), Brindel exploits an ancient tale to probe the warring ""male"" and ""female""...



Like Faye Levine (Solomon and Sheba, p. 466), Brindel exploits an ancient tale to probe the warring ""male"" and ""female"" impulses which shaped the character of Western religion, and to speculate about the last days of the female theocracies. The heroine here is Ariadne of 1400 B.C. Crete (familiar from the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur), who is priestess of the Earth Goddess and--after the death of her mother Pasiphae--the last Matriarch-Queen of Crete. Ariadne is in fact struggling to keep alive the cult of the Earth Goddess in the world, as great forces work against her: power-hungry Minos (the late Pasiphae's consort) is trying to insinuate Zeus worship; and Daedalus, a sophisticated Athenian advisor, entices Ariadne into the arid ways of rationality, ""long caravans of reasoning purified from love and hate."" So Ariadne finds herself succumbing to Daedalus' ideas, especially since she's joyfully in love with Daedalus' son Icarus (who'll die mysteriously, as if melted away). But the weakening of Ariadne's Earth-Goddess faith in ""the Mother"" allows dreadful changes to creep in: soldiers gather, and the key words of the cult--""Love"" and ""Compassion""--are transformed into ""Valor in Battle."" Blasphemy and carnage ensue, with Theseus arriving in time to speak proudly of bloody deeds and desecration. And finally Queen Ariadne, her followers nearly all gone, tries to tell the last of them: ""Without the Mother, we must all become the Mother."" Some murky passages, some authentically poetic ones too--and Brindel's cross-references to the traditional myth (provided as an appendix) are often quite neat and elegant. So, though lacking the wit that spiced up Levine's Sheba, it's a gloomily impressive piece of thee-philosophical reconstruction from a chiefly feminist angle.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1980