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A Thousand Ships (book review) Natalie Haynes

210519: never studied the 'primary' hellenic texts, histories (euripides etc.) or current archaeological, historical work surrounding this era of heroes (odysseus, achilles, hector etc) but of the modern interpretations i have read [book:Waiting for Odysseus|235873], [book:Lavinia|2214574], [book:The Song of Achilles|11250317], [book:Circe|35959740], this is my definite favourite... i can certainly appreciate how the story of helen of troy and the war remained so powerful, and if iliad/odyssey are foundational texts of 'western' masculinity, this could be so of femininity...

it is probably the way in which this works, covering the widest panorama, incorporating various characters, plotlines, weaving together a complex, modern interpretation of war and more particularly for women. using these archetypes as the fractious greek goddesses, the defeated but noble trojan women, bimbo nymphs and slutty sorceress, loyal and long-suffering penelope wife of odysseus... whose letters to her wandering, ever-delayed husband are comic interludes that recall [book:The Odyssey|1381]...

women are at the fore of this story, heroic in their own way, in surviving nobly, complex and rounded and not beyond despising each other, as for example many women hating the face that launched a thousand ships. this is historical fantasy, evolving cast of goddesses, demigods, nymphs, sorceress, monsters. adventures are background, as is the war of troy. foolish men, spiteful goddesses, dismaying cycle of hurt and pain. but there is reason if not rational for every interaction. and that reason is ultimately emotional: love, hate, envy, jealousy, lust, revulsion, family, pride, vengeance. whatever the realities of bronze age war and politics were: this is the story filtered through the bards, the ages, the romance, all the history of 'western' civilisation. this is the story as it must be told in oral tradition leading to modern skepticism, but retaining certain inviolable truths...

never let the wooden horse in your city. women will know suffering from birth to death of their loved ones to enslavement. three goddesses and one pretty apple are trouble for the mortal who will have to decide who gets it. beauty may fade but not until it has taken many with its power. the nature of killers are to kill and tricksters are to trick. women will wreak their vengeance in time but that sets off further tragedy yet...

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