The Praise Singer

Front Cover
Random House, May 6, 2004 - Greece - 244 pages
17 Reviews
In the story of the great lyric poet Simonides, Mary Renault brings alive a time in Greece when tyrants kept an unsteady rule and poetry, music, and royal patronage combined to produce a flowering of the arts.

Born into a stern farming family on the island of Keos, Simonides escapes his harsh childhood through a lucky apprenticeship with a renowned Ionian singer. As they travel through 5th century B.C. Greece, Simonides learns not only how to play the kithara and compose poetry, but also how to navigate the shifting alliances surrounding his rich patrons. He is witness to the Persian invasion of Ionia, to the decadent reign of the Samian pirate king Polykrates, and to the fall of the Pisistratids in the Athenian court. Along the way, he encounters artists, statesmen, athletes, thinkers, and lovers, including the likes of Pythagoras and Aischylos. Using the singer's unique perspective, Renault combines her vibrant imagination and her formidable knowledge of history to establish a sweeping, resilient vision of a golden century.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LisaMaria_C - LibraryThing

My introduction to Mary Renault was The King Must Die, the first of two novels about Theseus--it was actually assigned reading in high school. What impressed me so much there was how she took a figure ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - antiquary - LibraryThing

I would give this six stars if I could -- utterly wonderful recreation of the life of a wandering poet in ancient Greece, just at the time the Persians were conquering the Ionians. It may flatter ... Read full review

About the author (2004)

Mary Renault was educated at Clifton High School, Bristol and St Hugh's College, Oxford. Having completed nursing training in 1937, she then wrote her first novel Promise of Love. Her next three novels were written during off-time duty whilst serving in the war. In 1948 she went to live in South Africa but travelled widely. It was her trip to Greece and her visits to Corinth, Samos, Crete, Delos, Aegina and other islands, as well as to Athens, Sounion and Marathon, that resulted in her brilliant historical reconstructions of Ancient Greece. Mary Renault died in 1983.

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