Our tour-guide for Renault's seventh foray into Ancient Greece is reminiscing Simonides of Keos, master poet of that era...

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THE PRAISE SINGER

Our tour-guide for Renault's seventh foray into Ancient Greece is reminiscing Simonides of Keos, master poet of that era when people began writing instead of memorizing poetry (which scandalizes Simonides) and just before they began acting out instead of just telling myths. The age of Simonides--the later sixth century, B.C.--has been neglected by both students and novelists for later and earlier times. Renault makes it familia with her usual, effective you-are-there approach--a great deal of casual shoptalk and reference to odd customs. Simonides goes everywhere, meets everyone, and is always at the scene of major events. He flees the Persian conquest of Ionia; helps Pisistratos, tyrant of Athens, jot down the hitherto oral Iliad; giggles with Anakreon; has his palm read by Pythagoras; and attends the most famous assassination in Athenian history. Though afflicted with the regulation nasty daddy, he is an unusual narrator for Renault, being both ugly and heterosexual, but his narrative tone of voice is just like that of her other heroes--a bit fey, a bit coy, but as strangely readable as ever. Another for Renault's host of fans, and if not her best, far from her worst. An abrupt end in the middle of a long life seems to hint at a sequel.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 1978

ISBN: 0375714200

Page Count: -

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1978