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The King Must Die (1958)

de Mary Renault

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

Sèrie: Theseus Myth (1)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
2,695565,469 (3.94)158
New York Times Bestseller: This retelling of the Greek myth of Theseus, king of Athens, is "one of the truly fine historical novels of modern times" (The New York Times).   In myth, Theseus was the slayer of the child-devouring Minotaur in Crete. What the founder-hero might have been in real life is another question, brilliantly explored in The King Must Die. Drawing on modern scholarship and archaeological findings at Knossos, Mary Renault's Theseus is an utterly lifelike figure--a king of immense charisma, whose boundless strivings flow from strength and weakness--but also one steered by implacable prophecy. The story follows Theseus's adventures from Troizen to Eleusis, where the death in the book's title is to take place, and from Athens to Crete, where he learns to jump bulls and is named king of the victims. Richly imbued with the spirit of its time, this is a page-turner as well as a daring act of imagination. Renault's story of Theseus continues with the sequel The Bull from the Sea. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary Renault including rare images of the author.… (més)
  1. 40
    Black Ships de Jo Graham (_Zoe_)
    _Zoe_: Both take a legendary/mythological story and bring it to life in a plausible historical world.
  2. 41
    Odissea de Homer (alalba)
  3. 30
    The Crystal Cave de Mary Stewart (bjappleg8)
    bjappleg8: so many common threads: the "bastard" son of a royal daughter whose father turns out to be a king; who is god-touched and destined for glory but ultimately tragic. Also, strange to say, both these re-tellings of ancient myths by women feel fairly misogynistic.… (més)
  4. 20
    The Mark of the Horse Lord de Rosemary Sutcliff (gwernin)
    gwernin: A view of sacred kingship among the Celts.
  5. 20
    The Song of Troy de Colleen McCullough (_Zoe_)
  6. 20
    The Song of Achilles de Madeline Miller (wrmjr66)
  7. 00
    Goddess of Yesterday de Caroline B. Cooney (cmbohn)
    cmbohn: Another look at ancient culture and their relationship with the gods.
  8. 12
    The Mists of Avalon de Marion Zimmer Bradley (krasiviye.slova)
    krasiviye.slova: Similar decline and fall of the matriarchy theme, with different spins.
  9. 01
    Els Jocs de la Fam de Suzanne Collins (sturlington)
    sturlington: The tributes of the bull dancers are similar to the tributes to the Hunger Games and Collins has said she was inspired by the Theseus myth.
  10. 02
    Memorias de Adriano de Marguerite Yourcenar (Waysider)
  11. 03
    The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind de Julian Jaynes (themulhern)
    themulhern: Jaynes would argue that Theseus was a pre-conscious here; Renault, on the other hand, makes him very self-aware. However, the god does speak to Theseus, to tell him of impending earthquakes.
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» Mira també 158 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 57 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Mary Renault's The King Must Die takes place in a world where the rules are in flux. We're in Ancient Greece, and a matriarchal society with an earth-based religion is in the process of changing to a patriarchal one that worships sky gods. She uses this background to re-tell the Greek myth of Theseus. Briefly-ish, the myth version goes as such: King Minos of Crete angered Poseidon by refusing to sacrifice a particular bull. To punish him, his queen, Pasiphae, is made to be overwhelmed by lust for that bull. She engages Daedelus, the legendary craftsman, to build a cow she can fit inside to, er, consumate her love. What results is a half-bull half-man monster that eats human flesh: the Minotaur. Daedalus is commissioned again, to build a maze, the Labyrinth, in which the beast can be hidden. Crete is a powerful city-state and demands tribute from other Greeks: seven young men and seven young women to be given to the Minotaur every year. Theseus is the son of the King of Athens, and is one of the youths sent to Crete. When he arrives, Minos' daughter, Ariadne, falls wildly in love with him and gives him a ball of yarn that he can tie near the entrance of the maze so he can find his way back out. She also gives him a sword, which he uses to kill the Minotaur. He flees with Ariadne, but abandons her on an island on his way back home. Theseus forgets to change the color of his sails when arriving back in Athens to signal his father that he's returning home safely, and his father commits suicide in despair over his "death". There's more, but that's the portion covered in this book.

Renault takes that structure and constructs a story that could have been the basis for the myth. In her tale, Theseus is raised by his mother, a priestess devoted to the earth goddess, and her family outside of Athens. As a teenager, he starts to return to Athens to be reunited with his father, who nearly kills him accidentally. He does volunteer to be sent to Crete, but for different reasons: in this version of the story, based on something more like actual history, the young people are sent to Crete to become "bull dancers", a team-based sort of sacred ritual bullfight. The labyrinth is the enormous palace of Minos, Ariadne is a priestess. Although the Olympians are mostly taken out, Theseus is gifted with an ability to sense pending earthquakes, kind of big deal in a seismically active region.

Reading this book actually reminded me a lot of my slog through The Masks of God by Joseph Campbell, a series which details the development of religions all over the world. Campbell traces the same transition in Western religious belief that Renault highlights, with earlier people just starting to form groups based around farming often believing in an earth goddess, who required human sacrifice in order to produce agricultural bounty, while later societies with more stratification turned to worship mostly-male sky gods. Renault portrays a Greece which is dealing with this exact movement, with Theseus himself working to convert a city where he finds himself from the latter to the former. The story is entertaining enough and Renault's prose is solid, but Theseus is a bit of a Mary Sue. He always has the right answers, for the right reasons (in his mind anyways), always does the correct thing. It made him kind of boring as a character...I wanted him to face more conflict from within, struggle against forces internal as well as external.

Theseus is motivated strongly by devotion to his religious beliefs, especially his sense of moira, or fate. This got to me thinking about the role of religion in public life. In Theseus' world, religion is a constantly part of daily life, both inside and outside the home. Today's Western world, on the other hand, is becoming progressively less and less religious. This is often treated as a reason for some sort of moral decline, which I find obnoxious as a non-religious but perfectly moral person. But it does have me wondering about something else that comes up often in The Masks of God: ritual, and its purpose of enforcing social structure and rules. We have some secular rites of passage: drivers licenses, high school graduation, college graduation, but these lack the solemnity of religious ceremonies. I certainly don't think that secular culture is incapable of creating meaningful rites to acknowledge maturation, but I don't think it's necessarily done so effectively yet. Anyways, to close out with the book itself: it's a decent read, but not a can't miss, and I don't feel any compulsion to seek out the sequel. ( )
  ghneumann | Jun 14, 2024 |
I love books that transport me. This sparkling, deed-driven, gestural world, conjured up by Mary Renault, is a world I find profoundly attractive. In part, this is because these stories are so deeply embedded in my unconsciousness that although alien, they are also familiar.

That said, the Minotaur of the The King Must Die is not quite the same as the legendary half-man, half-beast of my childhood. As a character in the weave of this tale it is better and more subtle for Mary Renault's art, I think. But it raises questions about veracity, if that can apply to mythology?

Some books bleed into others and I’ve come to The King Must Die immediately after Sylvia Martin’s Passionate Friends; wherein women writers hide behind assumed names. Mary Renault was the pen name of Eileen Mary Challans who pioneered novels exploring same-sex love and desire. She and her partner, Julie Mullard, emigrated from Britain, to live in a South African community of gay and lesbian expatriates. However, she was wary of identifying herself primarily by sexual orientation and was hostile towards the gay rights movement.

No doubt there are learned texts about the influence of Renault’s sexuality on her writing style, but if a writer’s sexuality has any relevance, then, in my opinion, here, it serves to make the clear air that contributes to the unfamiliar atmosphere and the timelessness of these gripping stories where there are abundant forms of sexuality and sex. Some of the most moving scenes involve love making, but of course, there is much more.

There are as many powerful women as there are men in these stories. I say stories because while the overarching story is of Theseus’s journey from boyhood to kingship, there are many sub-stories several of which: Medea and Phaedra are not contained within the arc of the narrative.

Regardless of the currency of her Greek scholarship, I found Mary Renault’s invocation of the cosmology of the Attic world with its gods and heroes utterly absorbing. So much of the power of this book is in the detail. Nowhere more than where death occurs. Many kings die, as they must in this world where succession needs be god-sanctioned.

The relationships between men, women and gods is both utilitarian and dutiful. But it is humanity that shines through: Men are only men
But I was in no danger of over-eating. It killed ones hunger to see even great lords (some of whom I knew to hate him) fawning upon Asterion, changing their faces in time with his like soldiers drilling. While he cracked coarse jokes, his eyes missed nothing. I saw him watch guess out of hearing as if he could read their lips, and his stewards lingered like spies. p.251.
( )
  simonpockley | Feb 25, 2024 |
I first read this book as a child (who was fascinated by mythology especially the Greek myths) and approached it with some trepidation this time around, remembering very little about it, apart from the fact that I'd been upset by the horse sacrifice near the start of the novel. However, I needn't have worried: for a book first published in 1958 it still holds up very well.

The plot isn't a mystery for anyone who knows something about the mythological story of Theseus, but the interpretation that Renault puts on it is unique. She tells the story from his own viewpoint, looking back over his life, as if it is historical fiction, drawing on all the - then recent - discoveries about Crete such as the Linear B language. For the main meat of the book is formed by Theseus' experiences in Crete.

The story begins in his childhood when he learns how to be a king from his grandfather, but always smarts under the stigma of not knowing his father's identity. He is the sole child of the king's daughter and sole surviving child - and comes to believe the story put around that the god Poseidon is his father. This seems confirmed when he starts to experience the kind of 'aura' that animals and birds receive as a warning of earthquakes - to the ancient peoples a sign of Poseidon's anger. But he remains small and light, outgrown by his contemporaries, unlike in the myth, because - more realistically - Renault takes the fact that Theseus later excels at bull leaping to indicate he must have been agile and shorter than average.

Then comes the revelation about his real father and the circumstances around his conception - plus the need to shift a massive stone and take the sword concealed underneath it to his father to claim his birthright. And so the tale gathers momentum. En route, Theseus learns skills and gains experiences that will later serve him well, plus changing for ever the nature of the goddess worship in an intervening town where the old practice of sacrificing the king annually has survived. And his experiences on Crete will change and inform his maturing character for the rest of his life.

I liked the way Renault came up with realistic explanations for all the oddities which myths take for granted, and made Theseus likeable despite the - to our age outrageous - treatment of women, something in which he was following societal norms. The goddess worship had been subsumed into the worship of male gods such as Zeus and Poseidon by this time, apart from in pockets where it survived less transformed, and was regarded with suspicion by men in general. Yet Theseus does gain an awareness while on Crete that the women who have to face the bulls - despite their being labelled always as 'girls' - are just as brave and capable as the men, and that the flighty behaviour of so many women is due to their conforming to what is expected of them in a male dominated society.

The one point which I didn't think Renault quite managed to make convincing was Theseus reason for not painting his sail on his return journey - unlike the myth, he doesn't just forget. But that is such a minor point that the book still deserves a 5-star rating. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
A 1958 episodic historical novel, the first half of a pair, that is an attempt to tell the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur in some realistic way. I recommend that you go to the back of the book and read the legend first, since some key points in the story are described very briefly, and sometimes with an odd sentence or two, as if the author assumed that the reader would know the myth well. Ultimately, I think attempts to explain religious myths as a distortion of a real event are unconvincing.

The author wrote two brief passages that seem to foreshadow Christianity. These are very short, but distracting, since the reader is trying to immerse himself in the time with all of its cultural peculiarities, and Christianity was a long way off in 1600 BCE. It is like the author is winking at you.

I liked the comment on p. 150 of this edition, "I learned...how much easier it is to move the many than the few." Έμαθα πόσο εύκολο είναι να μετακινήσετε το πολλοί από τους λίγους.[?, Google translate doesn't do linear A or B] ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
"El rey debe morir" alude a esa antigua tradición de los pueblos indoeuropeos en la que el rey sagrado debía morir ritualmente asesinado por el nuevo rey. Mary Renault desgrana el mito de Teseo, rey niño de Eleusis, condenado por el ritual sagrado a una muerte precoz. Este héroe de la mitología griega desafió el decreto de los dioses, mató al Minotauro, destruyó el palacio de Minos y reclamó el trono de su padre. Después se convertiría en uno de los más grandes navegantes y conquistadores de la Grecia clásica.
  Natt90 | Mar 17, 2023 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 57 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Renault comes up with many ingenious and plausible solutions to the riddles posed by trying to place the legends into a historical context.

You’ll find excitement and beauty, philosophy and action, danger and fulfillment — all the very best qualities of a myth retold.
afegit per elenchus | editaEmerald City Book Review (Mar 15, 2017)
 
afegit per Shortride | editaThe New York Times, William du Bois (Web de pagament) (Jul 14, 1958)
 
A novel to be read with pleasure and great excitement.
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (25 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Mary Renaultautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Bark, MimiDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Bianciardi, LucianoTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
DESMONTS, AntonioTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Dyer, KrisNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Goldberg, CarinDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Hemmer Hansen, EvaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Hughes, BettanyIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Mirlas, LeónTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Rush, JohnAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Rychlíková, OlgaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Scarpi, N. O.Traductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Oh, Mother! I was born to die soon;
but Olympian Zeus the Thunderer
owes me some honor for it.

--Achilles, in the Iliad
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The Citadel of Troizen, where the Palace stands, was built by giants before anyone remembers.
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But it is death for men to spy on women's mysteries.
They were so stupid that they thought women conceived by their own magic, without help of men. No wonder a woman seemed so full of power to them! If she told a man no, who but he would be the loser? She by her art could conceive from the winds and streams, she owed him nothing.
We have taken the bull by the horns; we have leaped for you and not run away; we always gave you a show.
It is grief to a man to look on mysteries he does not understand.
"Moira?" he said. "The finished shape of our fate, the line drawn round it. It is the task the gods allot us, and the share of glory they allow; the limits we must not pass; and our appointed end. Moira is all these."
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)

New York Times Bestseller: This retelling of the Greek myth of Theseus, king of Athens, is "one of the truly fine historical novels of modern times" (The New York Times).   In myth, Theseus was the slayer of the child-devouring Minotaur in Crete. What the founder-hero might have been in real life is another question, brilliantly explored in The King Must Die. Drawing on modern scholarship and archaeological findings at Knossos, Mary Renault's Theseus is an utterly lifelike figure--a king of immense charisma, whose boundless strivings flow from strength and weakness--but also one steered by implacable prophecy. The story follows Theseus's adventures from Troizen to Eleusis, where the death in the book's title is to take place, and from Athens to Crete, where he learns to jump bulls and is named king of the victims. Richly imbued with the spirit of its time, this is a page-turner as well as a daring act of imagination. Renault's story of Theseus continues with the sequel The Bull from the Sea. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary Renault including rare images of the author.

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