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The Last of the Wine (1956)

by Mary Renault

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,477209,566 (4.1)55
New York Times bestseller: A "highly superior historical novel" about the bond that grows between two men in ancient Athens (Saturday Review). Alexias is a young aristocrat living during the end of Athens's Golden Age. Prized for his beauty and athletic prowess, Alexias studies under Sokrates with his closest friend, Lysis. Together, the young men come of age in an Athens on the verge of great upheaval. They attend the Olympics, partake in symposia, fight on the battlefields of the Peloponnesian War, and fall in love. The first of Mary Renault's celebrated historical novels of ancient Greece, The Last of the Wine follows Alexias and Lysis into adulthood, when Athens is defeated by Sparta, the Thirty Tyrants take hold of the city, and the lives of both men are changed forever. Through their friendship, Renault opens a vista onto ancient Greek life, uncovering its vibrancy, culture, and political strife, and offers an unforgettable story of love, honor, loyalty, and the remarkable bond between two men. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary Renault including rare images of the author. "Mary Renault is a shining light to both historical novelists and their readers. She does not pretend the past is like the present, or that the people of ancient Greece were just like us. She shows us their strangeness; discerning, sure-footed, challenging our values, piquing our curiosity, she leads us through an alien landscape that moves and delights us." --Hilary Mantel… (more)
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» See also 55 mentions

English (19)  Spanish (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
currently reading
  vdt_melbourne | Jun 11, 2021 |
This was her first historical novel, a story of the ancient Greeks, following 6 popular contemporary romances.

(See "The Middle Mist" for online resources on Renault.) ( )
  librisissimo | Mar 19, 2021 |
I was amazed by Mary Renault's Theseus series and The Charioteer because of how skillfully she crafted detailed historical fiction from little more than an ancient myth and a philosophical allegory. But for whatever reason this did not pull me in as much as those books did. The way the dialogue was formatted made it hard to follow and the chapters near the end that addressed the Peloponnesian war seemed rushed. I suspect if I had a better understanding of the time period and the historical characters – particularly Sokrates and Plato – I would have enjoyed this more than I did. ( )
  wandaly | Aug 11, 2020 |
I again believe that Mary R. has put herself very well in the shoes of a male protag. in his own cultural context. The thoughts are not pretty, but they are realistic for the time period. And she certainly makes one think. If my writing is ever able to achieve this, I will be content.

In Service to Community Cooperation,

Shira Destinie Jones Landrac
William-James-MEOW-Date: Tuesday, July 31. 12014 H.E. (Holocene Era)

( )
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
I again believe that Mary R. has put herself very well in the shoes of a male protag. in his own cultural context. The thoughts are not pretty, but they are realistic for the time period. And she certainly makes one think. If my writing is ever able to achieve this, I will be content.

In Service to Community Cooperation,

Shira Destinie Jones Landrac
William-James-MEOW-Date: Tuesday, July 31. 12014 H.E. (Holocene Era)

( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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When I was a young boy, if I was sick or in trouble, or had been beaten at school, I used to remember that on the day I was born my father had wanted to kill me.
Quotations
When you are man enough to carry a shield, you will learn how it happens that men are sold into slavery, and their children born in it. Till then, it is enough for you to know that Amasis and the rest are slaves, not through any merit of yours, but by the destiny of heaven.
Why do I argue with a man who thinks whatever will earn him his freedom in two years? He can think what he likes then. It seems I can be more just than Midas, not because I am good, but because I am free.
the good must first be wrought with toil out of a man's own self, like the statue from the block.
It is the true teacher's gift, they say, to discover a man to himself.
I would feel my soul climb love as a mountain, which at the foot has wide slopes with rocks and streams and woods, and fields of every kind, but at the top one peak, to which if you go upward all paths lead; and beyond it, the blue ether where the world swims like a fish in its ocean, and the winged soul flies free. And thence returning, for a while I found nothing created that I could not love.
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New York Times bestseller: A "highly superior historical novel" about the bond that grows between two men in ancient Athens (Saturday Review). Alexias is a young aristocrat living during the end of Athens's Golden Age. Prized for his beauty and athletic prowess, Alexias studies under Sokrates with his closest friend, Lysis. Together, the young men come of age in an Athens on the verge of great upheaval. They attend the Olympics, partake in symposia, fight on the battlefields of the Peloponnesian War, and fall in love. The first of Mary Renault's celebrated historical novels of ancient Greece, The Last of the Wine follows Alexias and Lysis into adulthood, when Athens is defeated by Sparta, the Thirty Tyrants take hold of the city, and the lives of both men are changed forever. Through their friendship, Renault opens a vista onto ancient Greek life, uncovering its vibrancy, culture, and political strife, and offers an unforgettable story of love, honor, loyalty, and the remarkable bond between two men. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary Renault including rare images of the author. "Mary Renault is a shining light to both historical novelists and their readers. She does not pretend the past is like the present, or that the people of ancient Greece were just like us. She shows us their strangeness; discerning, sure-footed, challenging our values, piquing our curiosity, she leads us through an alien landscape that moves and delights us." --Hilary Mantel

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Combining the scholarship of a historian with the imagination of a novelist, Mary Renault masterfully brings the ancient world to life in this page-turning drama of the Peloponnesian War.

Athens and Sparta, the mighty city states of ancient Greece, locked together in a quarter century of conflict: the Peloponnesian War.

Alexias the Athenian was born, passed through childhood and grew to manhood in those troubled years, that desperate and dangerous epoch when the golden age of Pericles was declining into uncertainty and fear for the future.

Of good family, he and his friends are brought up and educated in the things of the intellect and in athletic and martial pursuits. They learn to hunt and to love, to wrestle and to question. And all the time his star of destiny is leading him towards the moment when he must stand alongside his greatest friend Lysis in the last great clash of arms between the cities.
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