THE MASK OF APOLLO by Mary Renault


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This further excursion into ancient Greece has Plato gray-bearding it back and forth from Syracuse to Athens amid mainly off-stage wars and feuds, all exhaustingly interlocuted by a successful actor, Nikeratos. The actor becomes attracted to Dion, a man of great stature and presence who turns out to be a nephew, thought to be the heir of, Dionysios, Archon of Syracuse. Through Dion's devotion to the philosopher Plato, Nikeratos, although dedicated to the arduous calling of the theatre (symbolized by his mask of Apollo) observes and participates in the real drama of the external and internal struggle of Dion--as he is by-passed at the death of Dionysios for the obviously inadequate young Dionysios, and attempts to influence his cousin by sending Plato to teach the young Archon. However, in spite of geometry and peeks at the Ideal State, young Dionysios rapidly runs to seed; exiles cousin Dion; temporarily holds Plato incommunicado. At the last Dionysios and another pretender are overthrown by Dion, who fights the corruption of power. Nikeratos then welcomes into his dressing room the young Alexander.... Luxuriant research stifles action rather than heightens it; sketchy characters are poled up on shreds of historical fact; and dialogue at a slow walk does little for ancient Greece.... However The Last of the Wine and The King is Dead proved that her audience is very alive and this one also wears the laurel wreath of the Book-of-the-Month Club, as the November selection.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1966
Publisher: Pantheon