The ancient city of Troy really existed. The Trojan War that figures in Homer's two great epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey, really happened. But there is much more to it.
Leave it to one of the English language's greatest practitioners, Robert Graves, to flesh out the story in a very short book for children, first published in 1962, and out of print for more than three decades. According to Graves, "English literature, to be properly understood, calls for as close a knowledge of the Trojan War as of the Bible: Helen's beauty, Odysseus's cunning, Hector's noble courage, Achilles's vulnerable heel, Ajax's madness, Agamemnon's murder, have all become proverbial. Yet The Siege and Fall of Troy is perhaps the first modern attempt to make the whole story, from the foundation of Troy to the return of the victorious Greeks, into a single short book for boys and girls."
Two-thirds of Graves's account originates with ancient Greek and Latin authors other than Homer, in fact. The ancient city of Troy was sacked sometime early in the 12th century BC; The Iliad and The Odyssey were composed some four or five centuries later. They followed earlier accounts and drew from them. Mostly, the various accounts agree with one another, and since most were originally performed at royal courts, the exploits of the royal-born feature in them all.
Graves's style is sleek and to the point. The speech of the protagonists is direct and kids will relate to it. The story is told with verve and clarity. Since this is one of the greatest stories of all time, it doesn't need dressing up. The new Seven Stories edition will be elegantly designed and produced, an heirloom for future generations.
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Robert Graves (1895-1985) was a preeminent English poet, novelist, critic, translator, and scholar of classical mythology. He served in World War I--an experience recounted in his 1929 autobiography, Good-Bye to All That--and later became the first professor of English literature at the University of Cairo. Best remembered today for his acclaimed historical novels about the Roman emperor Claudius, I, Claudius and Claudius the God, his other books include The White Goddess, The Hebrew Myths, and Collected Poems.
Trained as a Roman historian at Princeton (AB), Oxford (MPhil), and Stanford (PhD), Dan-el Padilla Peralta is Assistant Professor of Classics at Princeton University. He is affiliated with Princeton's Program in Latino Studies and was recently named a Faculty Fellow in Service and Civic Engagement. His 2015 memoir Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League (Penguin) received an Alex Award from the American Library Association. Dan-el is now writing a second book on the religious world of the Roman Middle Republic.
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