Based on a good idea, The Shining is not impressively executed, although it has its nimble moments, back in 415 B.C. Hiero of Marathon, 16, is denied his inheritance when his father dies. General Nicias claims that Hiero is not the son of the man who raised him and that he, the General, may claim the land. Hiero loses all, sets out for Athens to search out the secret of his birth. In Athens he is befriended by the city's most exclusive courtesan, who educates him in the philosophers. Euripides also befriends Hiero and hires him to play Clytemnestra. The boy thereafter is either an actor or a general's herald (cries out the general's orders for him in battle; makes his speeches for him in peace). Alcibiades, meanwhile, foments war upon Syracuse, takes on Hiero as his herald and the fleet sails to make conquest. It never returns. After eight years of disaster, defeat and slavery, Hiero finally returns to Athens to try to stage Euripides' banned The Bacchae. It's a triumph, and then there's more fighting and more wandering and fleeing and girls too, like cerise lollipops. The author's most interesting characters are Euripides and Socrates, who don't muster ten pages all told. Alcibiades has some of the jaunty wiles we remember him for, but we never see him in Socrates' company where he shone brightest. Except for a few moments in battle, in flight and in the theater, all the immediacy seems filtered through glazed enamel. Marlowe's mellow line, also, tells you what to feel, rather than let you feel it. But perhaps that is best, when noble pathos is the prevailing emotion.