THE BULL FROM THE SEA by Mary Renault

THE BULL FROM THE SEA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The legend of Theseus provided the springboard for the earlier book, The King Must Die, but only the early portions of the legend were used. This picks up the thread of story, half legend, half history, and carries through Theseus' adventures from his return to Athens to find that his father had killed himself thinking the Cretan expedition had ended in disaster- on to his own not dissimilar end. Perhaps even more than in its predecessor is the dependence of this story on familiarity with the intricacies of the Theseus' myth but even more on a thorough grounding in the religion, the superstitions, the duality of the role of king and god, and the clarification modern archaeology has brought to many of the ancient legends. The story itself is a fascinating one as Theseus, while accepting the political necessity of returning to Crete and taking Phaedra, the Cretan princess in marriage, allows himself to be diverted by his friend, Pirithoos, and to turn to piracy and sundry feats of valor. In the course of this he carries off the queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, who becomes the love of his life, and though- at her behest- he goes through with his marriage to Phaedra, it is only after Hippolyta's death in battle that he finally brings his wife and son to Athens- and to ultimate disaster. So much for the bare bones of the tale. Its fascination lies in the intricate interweaving of the Theseus stories with other myths, in the superb recapturing of the classic way of life, and most of all in the sheer magic of the telling.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1961
ISBN: 0375726802
Publisher: Pantheon