Rosemary Sutcliff novel and Greek hero Alcibiades help classics undergraduate

Twenty-two years ago today, in an article about putting right the wrongs attributed to historically famous figures, Sarah Jane Evans wrote about how Rosemary Sutcliff and Alcibiades (in The Flower of Adonis) once helped her as an undergraduate student of Classics.

Rosemary Sutcliff once got me out of a tight spot. As a Classics undergraduate, I had a Greek history essay to write and no time to do the research. Her novel, The Flower of Adonis, is about Alcibiades, one of the great figures of Greek history and definitely not one of life’s strong silent types. True, my supervisor noted that I was long on interpretation and short on fact. But I had half fallen in love with the man and there’s nothing like a bit of calf love to give the examiners want nowadays.

I have become less of a romantic since those days. But it is still possible to have a soft spot for Alcibiades because he is so many centuries away, living in that curious classical world where the sun always shines, people stand rigid in exaggerated poses, the temples are perpetually half-demolished, and ordinary family homes non-existent.

Source: The Guardian (UK), July 26, 1988

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