MAN, MYTH, AND MONUMENT by Marianne Nichols


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Professor Nichols begins with the intriguing idea that the Greek myths may clarify certain issues in archaeology and ancient history--and manages, for the most part, to make it tedious, bland and banal. Seizing on most of the central myths (Europa and the bull, the centaurs, the Minotaur, Perseus, Theseus, and the sagas of Jason and Odysseus), she uses them to date the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures, to locate Nestor's and other palaces, and to fix the lives of legendary heroes in the political currents of pre-Classical Greece. The book's greatest flaw is Nichols' confusion about her audience: she purports to write for the general reader, but retains much archaeological jargon and often fails to explain key terms. Occasionally, she gives interesting glimpses into quotidian realities of life in Troy, Knossos, and Thebes--the Cretan bull-leaping ceremonies, the workings of ancient bureaucrats, the chthonic mother-religions that antedated Zeus--but only the most devoted will sift through Nichols' lifeless, endlessly qualified prose in order to find the men beneath the rubble.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1975
Publisher: Morrow