THE GOLD OF TROY by Robert Payne


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Reported originally in the August 1st bulletin, when scheduled for earlier publication: it has been postponed for selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club as its co-selection for March.... ""Unevenly written but of fascinating content, this book by an author steeped in the lore of Homer and Greece tells the story of Heinrich Schliemann and his discoveries at Troy and Mycenae. A man 'pursued by luck like a Fury', Schliemann, son of a poor and dissolute clergyman, was born in 1822 in a remote village in Mecklenburg, Germany; as a boy he met a poor man who repeated 100 lines of Homer to him and from this encounter acquired a reverence for Homer and a determination to uncover the ruins of Troy. He early started to make money dealing in indigo and picked up a fortune in California from the estate of a dead brother. He made an unhappy marriage in Russia, divorced his wife in Indianapolis, becoming an American citizen to do so, and married a 'mail-order' wife who was devoted to him. In 1868, enormously wealthy, he started digging at the supposed site of Troy, finding amazing ruins and by luck the golden 'treasure' of Troy which he kept- never did he part with anything if he could avoid it. At Mycenae, digging beyond the Lion Gate, he found more treasures, including the fabulous Mycenae cups and masks. Egotistical, opinionated, irascible and not always honest, an inspired excavator but a poor archaeologist, often denying proved fact, Schliemann died in Naples in 1890, with honors and without friends. Writing of this incredible man the author makes little attempt at interpretation of his character and uses a style sometimes heavy with cliches; in telling the story of Troy and Mycenae as revealed by Homer and by Schliemann's discoveries he forgets pedantry and approaches poetry. This part of the book is by far the best. In spite of unevenness the book should have a wide appeal, to armchair excavators and amateur archaeologists, to lovers of Homer and ancient Greece and modern biography.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1959
Publisher: Funk & Wagnalls