The Siege of Troy by Theodor Kallifatides
English | 2019 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 1.3 Mb
The Siege of Troy : In this perceptive retelling of The Iliad, a young Greek teacher draws on the enduring power of myth to help her students cope with the terrors of Nazi occupation.
Bombs fall over a Greek village during World War II, and a teacher takes her students to a cave for shelter. There she tells them about another war—when the Greeks besieged Troy. Day after day, she recounts how the Greeks suffer from thirst, heat, and homesickness, and how the opponents meet—army against army, man against man. Helmets are cleaved, heads fly, blood flows. And everything had begun when Prince Paris of Troy fell in love with king of Sparta Menelaus’s wife, the beautiful Helen, and escaped with her to his homeland. Now Helen stands atop the city walls to witness the horrors set in motion by her flight. When her current and former loves face each other in battle, she knows that, whatever happens, she will be losing.
Theodor Kallifatides provides remarkable psychological insight in his version of The Iliad, downplaying the role of the gods and delving into the mindsets of its mortal heroes. Homer’s epic comes to life with a renewed urgency that allows us to experience events as though firsthand, and reveals timeless truths about the senselessness of war and what it means to be human.
“It was a sunny day, the windows were open, we could see the German flag fluttering gently in the playful breeze. Miss was in the middle of explaining that transitive verbs require the genitive case, and gave a popular saying as an example: “Early each morning the happy housewife busies herself with her home. ‘Her home’ must therefore be in the genitive case.”
“Bad example,” muttered Dimitra, who had never seen her mom looking happy in the morning. She also detested all rules, particularly grammatical ones.
“Handcuffs for the imagination,” she called them.
Miss took the opposite view. Her primary duty and pleasure was to teach us our language.
“Being Greek means knowing the Greek language,” she said.
When we heard the roar of planes, we weren’t worried. We assumed they were German. There was a temporary airfield in the village, built by the Germans for their transport needs during the Battle of Crete. Both my grandfather and my uncle had been forced to work there, like most local men. My father would have had to do the same, but he was stuck in some prison, if he was still alive.”