Thursday, June 22, 2006

Margaret Doody: Poison in Athens

Margaret Doody has written a series of detective stories set in ancient Greece, starring Aristotle the philosopher as detective together with his sidekick Stephanos. I have previously read Aristotle and Poetic Justice, in which Stephanos finds his bride-to-be. Poison in Athens is set later in time, as Stephanos tries to prepare for the nuptials to actually take place, sometime in a near future.

The story centres around several high-profile lawcases. A prostitute is accused of impiety, a well-respected citizen of hogging a female slave for his own sexual pleasures, a widow of murdering her husband with hemlock. Sex and the role of women is a theme of the book. Doody does not make it easier for us by creating a central character with modern views and thoughts. Aristotle and Stephanos are firmly rooted in their society. Women are the property of their families, slaves of their owners etc. Frankly, this became a bit tedious to read at times, which is why the blog update has been delayed. There was a lot of oratory; on why slavery is necessary in society, on morals good and bad, on philosophy. On the whole I think it's well worth it though. This series is not a bad introduction to Ancient Greece. I prefer Lindsay Davis' cynical Falco, but this is well written and well researched.

The final speech by the female slave Marylla is, I suppose, a little too modern - perhaps her ideas are just a trifle too sophisticated for a female slave of the time... but how can I know? Just an idea.


Anonymous said...

Hehe. Doody.

bani said...

I know. My original blog post idea had something about how you cannot but become an author with a name like Doody.