In fact, some contemporary plots look pallid by comparison.
I have just finished The Return from Troy. I was impressed by the first volume. This one is even better — much better. Much of the story was new to me.
Start by marking “The War at Troy” as Want to Read: Vigorous new life is breathed into the myth's of Homer's Iliad in Lindsay Clarke's new dramatic retelling of the wars fought for the Bronze Age City of Troy. Paris and Helen, Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra, Achilles, Odysseus and. The Achaeans threw Hector's infant son Astyanax down from the walls of Troy, either out of cruelty and hate or to end the royal line.
It is all completely seamless. The judgment of Paris is hilariously recounted, with the poor mortal at first hesitant, but then warming to his task when he realises that an accurate assessment requires that the goddesses take their clothes off.
Later, the disintegration of Paris and Helen's relationship as they are cooped up in the besieged Troy proves unexpectedly moving. Only occasionally does the combination of ancient and modern style jar, in cheesy dialogue or unconvincing character sketches and motivations. Why, for example, does Helen's sister Clytemnestra support the expedition against Troy?
The historicity of the Trojan War is still subject to debate. The siege of Troy provided inspiration for many works of art, most famously Homer 's Iliad , set in the last year of the siege. The Greeks retrieved Pelop's bones,  and sent Odysseus to retrieve Neoptolemus, who was hiding from the war in King Lycomedes 's court in Scyros. The most fascinating aspect of this book for me, though, was the love triangle of Helen, Menelaus, and Paris. Possibly out of vengeance for the death of Iphigenia , Clytemnestra plotted with her lover to kill Agamemnon. Since this war was considered among the ancient Greeks as either the last event of the mythical age or the first event of the historical age, several dates are given for the fall of Troy. This explanded on that basic knowledge and I found it thoroughly captivating.
Because, Clarke tries to persuade us, she saw the possibility of recouping the money she had squandered on the lavish interior redecoration of her palace in Argos. But how far are we here from the stories told of the Trojan war by the Greeks themselves? One could say we are very far away indeed. It is not just that Clarke is modernising.
He frankly admits that he knows no Greek himself - and when he refers to the "guidance" of Robert Graves's Greek Myths the s classic which combines a breezy retelling of the stories with mad theories about Mother Goddesses , he means "guidance" in its strongest sense.
Most of the episodes in The War at Troy are drawn directly from Graves's book; it is Graves, not Homer, who is Clarke's main "ancient" source. But another answer is that it is much closer to some versions of ancient storytelling than, I suspect, even Clarke realises.
For Graves drew on not just the canonical accounts of the classical Greek myths, but also on slightly later versions, particularly from the Roman period, when writers were often engaged in a strikingly "modern" project: reworking the old stories for a new audience. Like us, they satirised, up-dated and archaised with considerable verve. More than years after Homer, the Roman poet Ovid wrote a pair of letters, as if between Paris and Helen.
Helen's is a variation on the theme that women say "no" when they really mean "yes"; both rewrite the myth in terms of the erotic conventions of Ovid's own day.
Another satisfying twist is that the joke about Paris getting the divine trio to undress "for thorough examination" was already being told almost 2, years ago. Topics Books.