After Barbara, a German biology student, and her stiff-necked classicist boyfriend, Andreas, have a falling out during their summer tour of Greece, they find themselves together again as houseguests of Alexander, a polished, wealthy businessman who wings from one ancient monument to another in his silver sports car. Barbara is remarkably innocent of mythology but still inuitive enough to recognize Alexander as Hermes, the protector of travelers and messenger of the gods--functions Alexander/ Hermes performs well enough to give both young people self-knowledge that may eventually reunite them. But those who, unlike Barbara, remember Hermes as the god of the phallus, may find that Alexander's romantic appearance and unexplicably asexual behaviour leave something to be desired. Valencak, said to be a literary prizewinner in Germany, proceeds with limpid seriousness to construct parallels--of, say, Apollo's pursuit of Daphne in Andreas's flirtation with a kitchenmaid--and to place Tanagra figures and live satyrs in decorative niches of the story. She seems to have intended something more than just highbrow gothic, but that's the ultimate effect as Alexander manages to be glossily unconvincing both as god and man.