Rosemary Sutcliff’s Fabulous Flower of Adonis

Emma-in-Oz wrote in her blog in 2008 that the Flower of Adonis was ‘fabulous’:

It’s one of her ‘adult’ novels. It has a difficult and fairly dark subject matter – the end of the Greek golden age of the fifth century. And she uses multiple viewpoints: ‘the whore’, ‘the citizen’, ‘the soldier’ and so on. Very sophisticated. This came out in 1969. It covers the last days of the Peloponnesian wars, the political machinations of Alkibiades and the end of the Greek golden age. This is the same material that Mary Renault addressed a decade earlier in *The Last of the Wine* (1956).

They are very similar novels – both reconstruct ancient Greece in an amazing way, as if you were there. Both use ‘outsider’ perspectives, people on the edges of the major political events taking place.

One of the main differences is that Renault deals explicitly with homosexuality. Sutcliff dodges the issue. Of course, she also dodges the issue of heterosexual sex. The talk of ‘man parts’ and ‘women parts’ is off-putting with its tinge of neo-Victorian tweeness. Other than that, *The Flowers of Adonis* is fabulous!

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