Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel about Alkibiades | The Flowers of Adonis

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In the introduction to her historical novel  The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff wrote:

I have provided a possible explanation for Antiochus’s insane foolhardiness when left in command of the Athenian Fleet, because Thucidides’s bald account is so unbelievable (unless one assumes that both Antiochus and Alkibiades were mentally defective) that any explanation seems more likely than none.
Alkibiades himself is an enigma. Even allowing that no man is all black and all white, few men can ever have been more wildly and magnificently piebald. Like another strange and contradictory character Sir Walter Raleigh, he casts a glamour that comes clean down the centuries, a dazzle of personal magnetism that makes it hard to see the man behind it. I have tried to see. I have tried to fit the pieces into a coherent whole; I don’t know whether I have been successful or not; but I do not think that I have anywhere falsified the portrait.

The Flowers of Adonis by Rosemary Sutcliff; book cover

3 comments

  1. I finally read this novel as an older adult and found it very satisfying: a complex philosophic and sexual examination of a fascinating man (in a fairly remote, and difficult time.)

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  2. I once tried the exercise of reading Mary Renault’s Last of the Wine, Rosemary Sutcliff’s Flowers of Adonis, and Stephanie Plowman’s The Road to Sardis one after the other, as they all had Alkibiades as central character. What was interesting was that the three portrayals of Alkibiades were pretty much the same, give or take the writer, but the depiction of Antiochus varied wildly. It was interesting!

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