Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon

A story about Aristotle as tutor to the young Alexander the Great didn't strike me as something that could be brought to any kind of life outside of a museum. But this author did a fantastic job of giving these characters a frank voice and a human face, and evoking the (sometimes coarse) life and society and politics of ancient Greece. What an amazing book! One of the best I've read this year.

Divinity for me is that very plume of birds, the patterns of stars, the recurrence of seasons. I love these things and weep for the joy of them. The reality of numbers, again, for instance: I could weep if I thought about numbers for too long, their glorious architecture. pg106

Have you heard about these places? Barbarians, or course, but proud in their own way. The men are warriors and I've heard the women are too. Don't wash, don't shave, eat dog, healthy as horses and almost as tall. That's just the women. pg131

That's the point of literary arts, surely. You can convey ideas in an accessible way, and in a way that makes the reader or the viewer feel what is being told rather than just hear it. pg143

And we make a ridiculous joyous noise, the three of us, clapping our hands, snapping our fingers, the prince strumming his one wavering chord, Philes and I singing like cows (he's no better than me), the boat, the boat, the boat and the silver sea, until a palace guard sticks his head in the door to see who's in so much pain and smiles despite himself when he sees the morose nurse, the idiot prince, and the great philosopher conducting themselves like people who are simply happy. pg163

Macedon is an empire, not a state. In the ideal state, every citizen participates in the life of the polis, in the judiciary, in the promotion of the good and the just. Different states have different constitutions, of course, governing the amount and kind of power each citizen possesses. I might speak to you of Sparta, of Thebes, of their different constitutions. I might speak to you of polity, where the middle class holds the balance of power. Although each individual may not be utterly good, or utterly fit to lead, the ability of the collective of individuals always exceeds the sum of its parts. Think of a communal dinner, so much more enjoyable than a dinner provided at one individual's expense. I might in this regard speak of Athens. pg175

Pythias I had worried for, not knowing if she would rise to motherhood or be sunk by it; her cold elegance and alien distance didn't bode well. But her breasts went plump with milk, and she sat on the floor, even in her linens, to fuss and coo at the baby. She weeps with exhaustion from time to time, and both she and the baby fret when anyone -from myself to Tycho- leaves the house for too long. Liberty we have none, but there is self-sufficiency in our pleasure in the child and each other. pg 179.

Read more about The Golden Mean at Annabel Lyon's website


Tracy said...

This one sounds good - added to my wish list!

Trish said...

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I was really quite surprised by how much I liked it!

oreneta said...

I looked at this and wasn't to go and get it!!!!