Heroes - Stephen Fry

Oedipus is a detective who employs all the fields of enquiry of which the Athenians were so proud – logic, numbers, rhetoric, order and discovery – only to reveal a truth that is disordered, shameful, transgressive and bestial.

What I loved best about Heroes were Fry’s summaries and general commentary how the stories related to each other and how different Greek playwrights treated the same stories in different ways.

Other than this, Fry’s retelling of the stories is probably better for readers who are new to the Greek tragedies. And I am not saying this because I’m an expert on Greek tragedies or mythology or have some sort of snobbish attitude towards the material. I’m purely surmising this because I was quite bored by a lot of the stories.

Sure, the stories were re-told in their substance, but I think I was missing some depth that I found in other adaptations, or even the originals.

For example, Colm Toibin’s House of Names, which I read last week, was riveting and made me think quite a bit about the characters and the implied expectations of character development.

With Fry’s stories, I didn’t get a sense of complex characters at all. And the stories didn’t have the same sense of unexpected plot development as the stories in Mythos – as far as well-known stories can be “unexpected”.

Maybe the heroes are to blame for this. Maybe the heroes just aren’t as interesting as the Gods, but…gee, I was bored even favourite stories such as the one about Orpheus, Jason and Medea, and Oedipus. Atalanta’s story was good but it somewhat fizzled out at the end.

Anyway, the audiobook is still a fun way to spend some quality time immersed in Greek mythology.


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