THE GREEK GENERALS TALK: Memoirs of the Trojan War by Phillip Parotti
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THE GREEK GENERALS TALK: Memoirs of the Trojan War

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A quiet masterpiece of historical writing in the short fiction form: 12 dramatic monologues, each spoken by one of the Greek generals who served in the Trojan War. Old men by now and living in retirement (the war has been over for half a century), the generals reminisce, disentangle fact from myth, and reassess the strategy and meaning of the war--all on the eve of the great invasions by Dorian barbarians from the north, who will plunge Greece into ""a dark age that lasted for more than four hundred years."" Accumulating gradually into a novel-like whole, the monologues piece by piece paint a broad and carefully detailed canvas of the war itself and of pre-Homeric Greece as well--in a style punctiliously reserved but at the same time vividly detailed. Readers meet the great Machaon (""Machaon at Tricca""), son of Asclepius, as the old man describes treating the wounded on the battlefield, and as he sets the record straight on the story of Aias' suicide (Aias did not kill himself in rage when the armour of Achilles went to another). Sinon is here (""Sinon at Elis""), deferring with a dignified humility to the great Odysseus as being his master at the arts of reconnaissance and spying behind enemy lines. In ""Meriones at Gortyn,"" the wonderful and touching story is told of the Cretan Ideomenus' love for Helen, and of his stoic, lifelong grief when she passes him up, choosing Menelaus as husband instead; the honor of Antilochus (son of Nestor) is rehabilitated in ""Thrasymedes at Pylos,"" as Thrasymedes puts to death the malicious rumor of his cowardice (perpetrated by the deformed Thersites); and Thersites himself speaks at last, proving himself to be the pernicious, treacherous hypocrite that the noble generals all along have believed him to be. Achaia will fall to the barbarians as the old generals die, their arts and wisdom dying with them; Achilles' arrogant son Neoptolemus, rejecting strategy and embracing mere brutal force, will be partial cause of the decline of the great era. Lucid, masterful, and richly conceived, this is a volume, with portent for our own time, deserving its place on everybody's classics shelf, a modern companion to the great tales as known from Aeschylus and Homer. High literary entertainment, with maps, glossary of names, and gazetteer.

Pub Date: July 31st, 1986
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press