Nov 18, 2011
Greece in the 6th century BCE, where poets are honoured almost as much as athletes and horses. Mary Renault's The Praise-Singer is a terrific slice of history told through a famous poet's struggle to stay out of trouble and avoid the barbarians. But it's far more than one man's story; this is glorious historical reconstruction, and a very plausible set of ideas about how Pythagoras worked, how Homer got corrupted, and how red figure-ware vase painting was invented. Tyrants come and go: for readers who like their victory odes performed in linen.