Mary Renault

The King Must Die, by Mary Renault: Reading Mary Renault always tempts me to become a classics or history concentrator. Mostly because it reminds me of the whole glamour of research: to be able to extrapolate an entire world from the fragments collected from crumbling, forgotten books and texts sitting neatly lined up on shelves deep within the dark stacks of a university library. The study of history is in many ways equivalent to literary archaeology, and it’s at its most fascinating when it manages to reconstruct a story. Of course, we don’t know if Theseus ever really existed, but that’s irrelevant. Also, the succession mythology and the tension between old matriarchal and new patriarchal religions seriously made me want to finish The Golden Bough. Yum. I also want to read more about Crete and the bull-dancers now. The descriptions of the Bull Court were wonderful, even though I had the feeling that Renault was cross-referencing Spanish bullfighting for most of the details. I adored her two Alexander books (Fire from Heaven and The Persian Boy), but now I’ll have to read The Bull from the Sea (which continues the Theseus story, I hear).

So yes, the plan is that if I suddenly and irrevocably decide to give up science forever, I’ll study ancient history. (That reminds me, I really want to reread The Three Kingdoms, although that’s ancient history for an entirely different region of the world.)