My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The father of western narrative history Herodotus defines the Heroic Age of the Five Ages of Man (which, by the way, Ovid interestingly omitted in his Roman version of the Ages of Men) as the last age of Heroes becoming Demi-gods in the afterlife. It was also the glamorous age of wondrous gala when divine immortals hobnobbed with and even made love with common mortals sired half-god, half-mortal. The Tale of Troy by Roger Lancelyn Green bears a witness in your heart to the terrific Heroic Age disappearing into the mystic yonder of the Elysium Fields with vivid authorial accounts of evoking the fascinating images of the heroes, gods, goddesses, nymphs, and mythological beasts, all embroiled in the arena of historical war where Omega isn’t really the end but the beginning of a new Alpha in every sense of existence, life.
Drawn on a compendium of classical narratives of ancient writers, principally Homer’s Iliad, Green retells the beginning and end of Trojan War, reprises the scenes of the heroic characters and capricious Immortals, and remasters the thematic theater of dramas so appealing to our contemporary minds that the story collapses a great divide of realms of heaven and earth, of the ancient and the modern, with his genius story-telling skills as an erudite but affable raconteur. Green takes you to the farthest possible to the Christ-like titan Prometheus punished for his divine compassion for mankind to the wedding banquet of Menelaus and Helen in Sparta where the goddess of discord Eris first presented an apple of discord, to Paris of Troy happily living with Oenone, a mountain nymph, on Mount Ida, to the Greek Camp outside the Wall of Troy where Agamemnon and Achilles were having a row over their beautiful Trojan female captives, and to Odysseus’s proverbial 10-year journey back to his Ithaca. Then the tale of Troy regenerates more stories about the fates of the characters following the end of the epic war, which leads to the dawn of the Iron Age, the Age of Man, where history as what we are textually familiar with, which is still ongoing like Odysseus’s journey to the destined purpose.
The Tale of Troy, which is as a matter of fact focused on the last few weeks in the final year of the war, is a literary equivalent of Matryoshka, a frame story embedded in manifold stories that surprise you with a jolly expectation of ‘what next?” Thus, it has no occasion for boredom as a result of the pedantic display of archeological artifices, ostentatious authority of scholastic knowledge usually associated with classical texts. That said, you should not make a rash judgment to regard this book as an abridged version of the great classical literature to be found in the aisle of Children’s book section in booksellers. Instead, it is Green’s altruistic intention to propagate the legacy of Mankind and cherish it as a great cultural endowment to the posterity of the forefathers of human enterprise by sharing his erudition of the Classical in universally comprehensive language with extraordinary vividness and superb narrative skills.
This book puts Green on the same pedestal as William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson in the literary tradition of adapting source texts to works of their own. This book is a magical casement of the misty past told by a Homeric storyteller of our modern time who will take you to where the ancient ocean sends forth the breeze of the shrill Aegean Sun to let you sail an imaginary voyage with the Greek Kings and the Trojan refugees, while the Olympian gods are watching you from Mount Olympus.