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Arcadian Days: Gods, Women and Men from Greek Myth

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The Greek myths, refined by the great poets and playwrights of Ancient Greece, distil the essence of human life: its brief span; its pride, courage and insecurity, its anxious relationship with the natural world - earth, see and sky, represented by powerful gods and monsters. Taking inspiration from the incomparably beautiful and intense poetry of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocle The Greek myths, refined by the great poets and playwrights of Ancient Greece, distil the essence of human life: its brief span; its pride, courage and insecurity, its anxious relationship with the natural world - earth, see and sky, represented by powerful gods and monsters. Taking inspiration from the incomparably beautiful and intense poetry of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, John Spurling - a lifelong classicist and an award-winning playwright and historical novelist - spins five foundational myths for contemporary readers. These captivating tales centre on male-female pairs - Prometheus and Pandora with her box, handsome Jason and the sorceress Medea, Oedipus and his daughter Antigone, Achilles and his mother Thetis, wandering Odyssesus and steadfast Penelope - that destroyed dynasties, raised and felled heroes, and sealed the fates of men.


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The Greek myths, refined by the great poets and playwrights of Ancient Greece, distil the essence of human life: its brief span; its pride, courage and insecurity, its anxious relationship with the natural world - earth, see and sky, represented by powerful gods and monsters. Taking inspiration from the incomparably beautiful and intense poetry of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocle The Greek myths, refined by the great poets and playwrights of Ancient Greece, distil the essence of human life: its brief span; its pride, courage and insecurity, its anxious relationship with the natural world - earth, see and sky, represented by powerful gods and monsters. Taking inspiration from the incomparably beautiful and intense poetry of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, John Spurling - a lifelong classicist and an award-winning playwright and historical novelist - spins five foundational myths for contemporary readers. These captivating tales centre on male-female pairs - Prometheus and Pandora with her box, handsome Jason and the sorceress Medea, Oedipus and his daughter Antigone, Achilles and his mother Thetis, wandering Odyssesus and steadfast Penelope - that destroyed dynasties, raised and felled heroes, and sealed the fates of men.

42 review for Arcadian Days: Gods, Women and Men from Greek Myth

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Wing

    This was my first dip into Greek Mythology really. I’ve always been super interested in it and know a bit about the big ones like Medusa, Aphrodite, Zeus etc, but not much about the lesser known gods! For a beginner like me, this book was perfect to give a little introduction to a few different myths, told brilliantly through the relationships of 5 sets of men and women. I found some bits a little difficult to follow as I’m still very new to all the mythology terminology, but there was a really h This was my first dip into Greek Mythology really. I’ve always been super interested in it and know a bit about the big ones like Medusa, Aphrodite, Zeus etc, but not much about the lesser known gods! For a beginner like me, this book was perfect to give a little introduction to a few different myths, told brilliantly through the relationships of 5 sets of men and women. I found some bits a little difficult to follow as I’m still very new to all the mythology terminology, but there was a really helpful index of names at the back too which I referred back to a lot! I absolutely loved Odysseus’ story told in first person, and there were so many other elements of Greek mythology in there that I hadn’t even realised were part of these myths. The tales were so exciting and interesting and I really enjoyed reading them! I also loved Achilles’ story and it’s actually made me want to try The Song of Achilles maybe soon 👀 there were little bits about Circe too and I had no idea what her story involved, so that’s got me really excited to read Circe in future!! Oedipus’ story was a bit bonkers, as I knew it would be 😅 I studied psychology at uni and obviously the icon that is Freud brought the Oedipus complex into our lives and made everyone question everything 😂 I had to look up whether ‘poop’ had multiple meanings because when one character was ‘equally unhappy huddled in her cloak under the poop’ I thought that can’t be right.. 🙈 turns out it means the highest deck of a ship, so that made a lot more sense! Definitely recommend this book to anyone that’s interested in reading Greek Mythology but is a bit intimidated going straight into a full novel! This has made me so intrigued to read more about all of these characters in other books and I think I will be reading a lot more in this genre going forward!! Thank you to @duck_books & @instabooktours for this STUNNING book!! 😍

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dan Bassett

    From the award-winning historical novelist and playwright John Spurling, comes a collection classical stories which cast new light on familiar characters with zest, wit and charm. Prometheus and Pandora: A tale of gifts, thefts, retribution, all stemming from Zeus not content enough with chaining Prometheus to a rock as punishment for giving mortals too much power, commands Pandora be sent to mingle among them all in the aim to torment those below his mighty kingdom. Jason and Medea: When most-hands From the award-winning historical novelist and playwright John Spurling, comes a collection classical stories which cast new light on familiar characters with zest, wit and charm. Prometheus and Pandora: A tale of gifts, thefts, retribution, all stemming from Zeus not content enough with chaining Prometheus to a rock as punishment for giving mortals too much power, commands Pandora be sent to mingle among them all in the aim to torment those below his mighty kingdom. Jason and Medea: When most-handsome Jason and his Argonauts arrive on the shores of Colchis to obtain a certain fleece, the wily Medea, granddaughter of Apollo, comes to his aid. But it is far from a selfless act of charity… Oedipus and Atigone: Though fated to do such a heinous and twisted act as to kill his father and marry his mother, when Oedipus is named king of Thebes he would be forgiven for thinking the gods support such an endeavour. However, upon looking into just how his predecessor died all fingers point squarely back at his own reflection, and perhaps fate shall repeat itself in the form of Antigone. Achilles and Thetis: Thetis, mother of the mighty Achilles, dotes on him to the extent where placing him within embers of flame in the hope to secure his immortality, later realises it is a better idea to hide him with the women of Skyros yet knows that ultimately all she can do to prolong his life is to craft the finest armour she can. Odysseus and Penelope: Penelope waits patiently for her husbands return from Troy, fending off many a suitor who all want to claim both her and the lands of their kingdom. Yet after twenty years Penelope devises a ploy to win her hand. But what if Odysseus should return in disguise? A fabulous collection of stories which showcases a wide variety of characters, stories and life lessons which any lover of classical literature shall surely enjoy!

  3. 4 out of 5

    ClaireJ

    Arcadian Days is a collection of great male and female pairings of Greek myth. As a big fan of mythology this book ticked all the boxes for me. All of these myths are quite well known but it was refreshing to have it retold in a modern way that is clear and flows well. I have previously read books in this genre that have felt heavy and too detailed at times but this didn’t feel that way. The narration is witty and I really liked how the author fills in stories with likely outcomes and some of hi Arcadian Days is a collection of great male and female pairings of Greek myth. As a big fan of mythology this book ticked all the boxes for me. All of these myths are quite well known but it was refreshing to have it retold in a modern way that is clear and flows well. I have previously read books in this genre that have felt heavy and too detailed at times but this didn’t feel that way. The narration is witty and I really liked how the author fills in stories with likely outcomes and some of his own literary criticism. The stories that I enjoyed the most were Thetis and Achilles and Odysseus and Penelope. The tales are filled with passion, love, bravery and adventure and kept me gripped to the pages. The tales all came across more male focused but this is to be expected with these well known Greek myths. They have always been more centred on men. If you love Greek mythology this book is for you. It is richly told and you can tell how much research and love the author has for this genre. A thrilling piece of mythological storytelling.

  4. 5 out of 5

    travelsalongmybookshelf

    Arcadian Days - John Spurling ‘The be-all and end-all of this war was pride, as perhaps it is of most wars.’ These are tales of the Gods, women and men of Greek myth retold and centred on pairs of men and women; Prometheus and Pandora, Jason and Medea, Oedipus and Antigone, Achilles and Thetis and Odysseus and Penelope. ‘There is no creature that breathes and crawls on the earth more miserable than man.’ Greek mythology is one of my favourite genres and this is a great addition. The stories are well Arcadian Days - John Spurling ‘The be-all and end-all of this war was pride, as perhaps it is of most wars.’ These are tales of the Gods, women and men of Greek myth retold and centred on pairs of men and women; Prometheus and Pandora, Jason and Medea, Oedipus and Antigone, Achilles and Thetis and Odysseus and Penelope. ‘There is no creature that breathes and crawls on the earth more miserable than man.’ Greek mythology is one of my favourite genres and this is a great addition. The stories are well known and here are well told. They do feel more male focussed than I thought they might be, but that tends to be Greek mythology all over. I liked how the author added his own opinions in his telling of the stories, it felt different to the Greek retellings I have read before and not entirely fiction. ‘What you are, you discover too late, is only food for vultures.’ The story that really lit my fire for this book is that of Achilles and Thetis, it’s powerful and written as a mixture of fact and fiction and interposed with sections from Homer, this was the strongest story for me. It is about friendship, a mothers love and courage. It has made me now want to read the original Homer, timid as I am of this epic! ‘When Achilles comes for you, you too will be good for vultures.’ ✩✩✩✰ Thanks so much Vic @instabooktours ,John Spurling and Duckworth Books for another epic book tour and for my copy of this book!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    Thank you Duck Books and Instabooktours for sending a copy of the book 😊 I love Greek mythology and I really enjoyed this book. I felt as though the writing was more accessible than older versions of the stories, the chapters were broken down well which meant that it didn’t feel like a chore to read. As I’ve read The Song of Achilles and Circe, it was really interesting to read about these characters from a different perspective, especially with TSOA as you know the relationship between Achilles a Thank you Duck Books and Instabooktours for sending a copy of the book 😊 I love Greek mythology and I really enjoyed this book. I felt as though the writing was more accessible than older versions of the stories, the chapters were broken down well which meant that it didn’t feel like a chore to read. As I’ve read The Song of Achilles and Circe, it was really interesting to read about these characters from a different perspective, especially with TSOA as you know the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus so this let you know what outsiders to that relationship saw. I definitely recommend it, and I can’t wait to read Arcadian Nights by Spurling too. Arcadian Days is due to be published on May 26th so save the date!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kavita

  7. 4 out of 5

    Neet’s Chronicle

  8. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Turner

  9. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maddie Grigg

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily Goulding

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hattie

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wouter

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anna Muradova

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Summer

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emma Hewetson

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lily Gregory

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paradise

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amanda | amandainthelibrary

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kayleigh

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julianne

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anjali

  29. 4 out of 5

    niles

  30. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Arnold

  31. 5 out of 5

    Dana-Rae

  32. 4 out of 5

    Steph De Mel

  33. 5 out of 5

    Carly

  34. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

  35. 4 out of 5

    Ju

  36. 5 out of 5

    Rosanna Hammond

  37. 5 out of 5

    Monika

  38. 5 out of 5

    Janek

  39. 4 out of 5

    Ana Sofia

  40. 5 out of 5

    Em

  41. 4 out of 5

    Zara

  42. 5 out of 5

    Mel ☀︎

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