cover image Some Talk of Alexander: A Journey Through Space and Time in the Greek World

Some Talk of Alexander: A Journey Through Space and Time in the Greek World

Frederic Raphael, . . Thames & Hudson, $40 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-500-51288-3

Screenwriter, novelist and translator Raphael, who won an Oscar in 1965 for his screenplay for Darling , conducts a bewildering journey through ancient Greece. He jumps from topic to topic in order to demonstrate his admiration for the ancient Greek way of life. He regales us with well-known tales of Greek military leaders (Alexander, Pericles), playwrights (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides) and philosophers (Thales, Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle). Using Aristophanes' comedy about Socrates, Clouds , Raphael observes that philosophy was more a subject of derision than praise until Athens fell apart politically. The author attempts to demonstrate how deeply Greece influenced modern drama—Sartre's The Flies as a version of Euripides'Orestes , for example—and argues that Menander's New Comedy provides the model for contemporary soap opera, with its "intricate joinery and stock characters." Drawing on his own journeys to Greece, Raphael observes how little that country has changed over the centuries; for example, he compares the short-lived reign of the fifth-century B.C. Athenian aristocrat Aristeides with the short-lived coup in 1967 of the aristocrats known as the Colonels. Although there are some worthwhile moments, Raphael offers little that's new and exciting. B&w illus. (June)