Read hercules my shipmate by Robert Graves Online


Reissued by Creative Age Press in 1945 as Hercules, My Shipmate, a novel about the voyage of the Argo. Written with ideas on The White Goddess as a cultural/anthropological backdrop to the ancient Greek tale. What the Golden Fleece really was—a cloak tossed to earth by a drunken Zeus, a sheepskin book of alchemic secrets or the gilded epidermis of a young human sacrifice nReissued by Creative Age Press in 1945 as Hercules, My Shipmate, a novel about the voyage of the Argo. Written with ideas on The White Goddess as a cultural/anthropological backdrop to the ancient Greek tale. What the Golden Fleece really was—a cloak tossed to earth by a drunken Zeus, a sheepskin book of alchemic secrets or the gilded epidermis of a young human sacrifice named Mr. Ram—nobody knows. But Graves is quite sure that, whatever the Golden Fleece was, the voyage of Jason & his Argonauts really happened. His story shows the legendary cruise as one of the bawdiest, bloodiest, most boisterous expeditions of all time. In I, Claudius & its Claudius the God sequel, Graves brought the teeming life of Claudian Rome so vividly alive that they became bestsellers. In the not-so-successful Wife to Mr. Milton, his blend of imagination & scholarship projected his readers into 17th-Century England & the bedchamber temper tantrums of the blind poet-politician. With Hercules & shipmates, Graves becomes an ancient Greek, moving among demigods & goddesses, myths & monsters with an easy familiarity & a wealth of erudite detail. Both sometimes seem too much of a good thing. Atomic-age readers, ill-attuned to the leisurely, formal talk of myth-age Greeks, may find themselves skipping some of the longer speeches. Most of the Argo's 50-oar crew were princes, each with a special talent & gift of the gods. The only woman aboard was a princess: Atalanta of Calydon, a virgin huntress who could outrun any man in Greece. Argus, who built the Argo, was the world's finest shipwright. Castor & Pollux, sons of Leda & Zeus-as-swan, were champion prizefighters. Nauplius, Poseidon's son, was an unrivaled navigator. Orpheus could make sticks & stones dance to his lyre. Hercules of Tiryns was the world's strongest man. He would've captained the Argonauts were it not that in moments of insanity he murdered friend & foe alike. Captaincy devolved on Jason of lolcos—a man nobody liked or trusted, but who had a power denied to all the others: women instantly fell in love with him. Even surly Hercules agreed it a quality worth all the rest. Backed by divine blessings & equinoctal winds, the Argonauts set sail. On the Island of Lemnos, peopled solely by women, they generously stopped off to help out with spring sowing. Nine months later, 200 children were born, of whom no less than 60 were said to be the spitting image of Hercules. On Samothrace, they were initiated into the sacred mysteries. The Goddess of All Being mated with the Serpent Priapus to be delivered of a bull. Then the sacred nymphs leapt on them & scratched & bit until even Hercules passed out. Thereafter, the Argonauts glowed with "a faint nimbus of light." The Argonauts boldly pushed on thru the dread Hellespont & entered the Black Sea. To their dismay, Hercules deserted, summoned home to perform another of his mighty labors. "Holy Serpents!" he growled. "Tell me what this time?" The job—cleaning the Augean Stables—didn't take long. He stayed around afterwards with the Lydian high priestess—who in due time bore male triplets. In gratitude, she taught him to spin, tying up his hair in blue braids. He was crazy about it, admitting confidentially he'd always wanted to be a woman. The Argonauts went on without Hercules. Reaching Colchis, Aphrodite won the Fleece for them. She made her son Eros wait behind a pillar with his bow until handsome Jason strode into the King of Colchis' palace. Eros shot Medea thru the heart, & the smitten princess helped to get the Fleece from her father's temple. Mythology's most famous voyage had reached its goal, but Graves takes 150 more pages to wind things up....

Title : hercules my shipmate
Author :
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ISBN : 8087754
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 464 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

hercules my shipmate Reviews

  • Bettie☯
    2019-02-24 12:51

    Description: THE GOLDEN FLEECE - a cloak tossed to earth by a drunken Zeus, a sheepskin book of alchemic secrets or the gilded epidermis of a young human sacrifice named Mr. Ram — nobody knows. But Graves is quite sure that, whatever the Golden Fleece was, the voyage of Jason & his Argonauts really happened. His story shows the legendary cruise as one of the bawdiest, bloodiest, most boisterous expeditions of all time.Did I know that Poseidon was originally god of the forest? It does knell a distant bell. Cloaked in the depths and the salty mistfew consider Poseidon Phytalmius.Verdant lord, forest king,to him each leaf and bud does sing.Long before wrote thoughtful Homerwas he consort to Demeter.Breathing life upon each branchso lifeless bleakness was thus stanched.Phytalmius, nourisher of plantswho sees the future of each seed,we give thanks to their natureso our people we may feed.Anyway, Poseidon is important to Göteborg/Gothenburg so this reawakening of scholastic trivia I now find entirely fab! I am not a fan of Carl Milles's Swedish Poseidon, he made the face trollish...Another join the dots moment happened when it clicked with me that Cersei = Circe. Of course!John William Waterhouse: Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses - 1891Minions HereMinions ThereMinions, MinionsEverywhere Graves's version of The Golden Fleece is not a Disney-esque production, it is for those who crave a deeper rendition with ALL the relevant facts (and some of them not so relevant but fun all the same!) thrown in. It is Good to revisit the classics now and again.See also: Jason And The Argonauts (1963) Full film.5* I Claudius5* Claudius the GodCR The Golden FleeceTR Goodbye To All ThatTR The Greek Myths3* The White Goddess

  • Louisa
    2019-03-05 13:36

    The story of Jason and his Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece is well known, but I have never read a version quite as good and with such rich detail as this one by Robert Graves. Graves puts Jason in his historical and geographical context, describing the voyage of the Argonauts as they sail from Iolcos along the islands of ancient Greece, past Troy, through the Bosphorus Strait where the Clashing Rocks are, and along the southern coast of the Black Sea towards the land of Colchis in the Caucasus. In the course of his narrative, he demystifies many of the myths and mythological creatures - he suggests, for instance, that the Cyclops were called One-eyed men because they covered one eye to protect themselves from the sparks of their anvils - but he leaves all the Gods and Goddesses fully intact. Graves also looks into the religious beliefs that gave rise to the Greek deities, and suggests that much of the friction between the tribes in the region was a result of clashing cultures and religions, most notably the worshipping of the Triple Goddess which was threatened by the newer religion of the Olympian Gods.Thanks to the presence of Orpheus and Hercules on the Argo, this book is about so much more than the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece alone. Hercules has interrupted his famous Labours for King Eurystheus to come and help the Argonauts on their quest, and his odd behaviour makes for some very hilarious adventures. And Orpheus sings about the Creation of the Skies, the Earth and the Underworld, of the children of Cronus and Rhea, of the inventions of Daedalus, and many other wonderful things. All in all, this book is a thorough introduction to Greek mythology and ancient Greece, and a wonderful achievement at that. After reading this, I am inclined to think that The Golden Fleece (which was later published in the US under the title Hercules, My Shipmate), rather than I,Claudius, was Robert Graves's finest work.

  • Eleanor
    2019-03-08 09:29

    I never thought I would give up on a book by Robert Graves, but this one I did. It is very long because it is quite unbelievably detailed. I assume Graves did this as a way of reproducing how the story might have been told orally, but also I think in order to cram in his interpretations of just about every Greek myth you can think of. To give one example, in a banqueting hall where the Argonauts are feasting, there is a painting on the wall showing Daedalus and Icarus flying, so Orpheus tells in great detail the story involved, explaining how some things were misinterpreted and misunderstood, what might really have happened, and so on.I got about halfway through, and maybe I shall return to it one day, but somehow I doubt it.

  • Scott Marlowe
    2019-03-19 15:37

    This one's a tough read. Better have your cliff's notes handy if you want to keep up. I was really looking for something with more entertainment value. This book did not deliver on that front, unfortunately.

  • Collins Prime
    2019-03-15 08:39

    Read this book for the first time when I was sixteen, revisited it some time ago. An Epic read I think has never been well crafted as this. The story is sublime, the setting quite eery. Jason is tough, his Argonauts are dauntless, the language is clean. Really enjoyed it.

  • Jefferson
    2019-03-10 11:46

    "But remember, no lies! The dead may speak the truth only, even when it discredits themselves." So ends the "Invocation" that begins Robert Graves' The Golden Fleece (1944), Graves having asked the ghost of Little Ancaeus, the last survivor of the Argonauts, to "unfold the whole story" of their quest to retrieve from far Colchis the sacred Fleece. The account begins years after the famous voyage with the death of Ancaeus, when he tried to live among the Maiden, Nymph, and Mother worshiping people of Majorca, because on his home island of Samos the Triple Goddess had been replaced by the Olympian pantheon. Ironically, the priestess who interviews Ancaeus decides that his knowledge of "indecent" and "topsy-turvy" Greek culture (in which, unbelievably, people worship fathers and women are forced to marry men and remain faithful to them and let them ride on top when making love) is too dangerous to let loose on her island and so has her Goat men servants stone him to death. The conflict between the original Triple Goddess and matriarchal culture of the Mediterranean on the one hand and the Olympians and patriarchal culture of the invading Greeks on the other moves the entire story of the Golden Fleece. Readers who can remain patient through a few chapters of such "historical" context setting are in for a treat, for The Golden Fleece is a bawdy, beautiful, comical, exciting, and violent adventure set in the ancient age of myth, a "real" account of events before they were transformed into legends, an exotic travelogue, and a satiric clash of cultures and genders. And it's just so full of life in all its brutality, brevity, humor, and pathos.The Golden Fleece is an encyclopedic novel of all things Greek and pre-Greek. Graves incorporates or refers to many myths and legends, from the cosmogony through the trade war between Troy and Greece and the Twelve Labors of Hercules. And from various cultures, including Pelasgian, Cretan, Thracian, Colchian, Taurean, Albanian, Amazonian, Troglodyte, and of course Greek, he works into his novel many interesting customs, about fertility orgies, weddings, births, funerals, and ghosts; prayers, sacrifices, omens, dreams, and mystery cults; boar hunting, barley growing, trading, and ship building, sailing, and rowing; feasting, singing, dancing, story telling, and clothes wearing; boxing, murdering, warring, and treaty negotiating; and more. It all feels vivid, authentic, and strange.Because Graves writes the novel from the point of view of someone living in the time and place of the Golden Fleece, many fantastic things are recounted matter of factly. For example, people who eat sacred oranges in the sacred manner live as long as they want, gods and goddesses speak to people through oracles and dreams, an augur can understand the speech of birds, Hercules has superhuman strength, and so on. Graves also realistically treats some traditionally fantastic things. For instance, hybrid creatures like centaurs, minotaurs, and satyrs are men belonging to horse, bull, and goat fraternities; cyclops are smiths who squint while doing their work; any woman can cow men by making "gorgon grimaces" (distorting her face and hissing); the sons of gods were born to prostitutes of the temples of those gods; and so on. And the heroes are so human! Butes the bee keeper loves honey too much. Idas provokes everyone (even Zeus) with his obnoxious jests. Sharp-eyed Lynceus doesn't warn anyone about the malevolent ghosts only he can see. Atalanta the virgin huntress sends mixed signals to Meleager. Echion the herald speaks so smoothly that he believes his own lies. "Accidents" happen to people who get in the way of Peleus. Hercules doesn't know his own strength, is prone to berserk rages, harms more friends than foes, and suffocatingly loves his boy-ward Hylas. Jason is an indecisive, sullen, "wild and witless young man," envied or despised by other men. No great warrior, seaman, painter, orator, or wizard, he leads the Argonauts only because women fall in love with him at first sight, a gift he abuses by using the same "my heart began a golden dance" pick up lines on different women and then loving and leaving them. The jealousies of the heroes are potent: "'How generous you are, prince Hercules,' cried Jason, wishing him dead and securely buried under a towering barrow of earth and stone." Indeed, Orpheus is vital to the quest because he must regularly calm the Argonauts with his music when their egos spark conflicts. The Golden Fleece is rich with epic similes: "After so long a period of abstinence, [the women of Lemnos] are wallowing in the pleasures of love as Egyptian crocodiles wallow in the fertile ooze of the Nile."And with pithy lines: "For drunken men have short memories."And with vivid descriptions, whether beautiful ("Here the mountain, which was shaggy with wild olive and esculent oak, sloped sharply down to the sea, five hundred feet below, at that time dappled with small banks of mist, like sheep grazing as far as the horizon line"), spare ("The wind made the pyres roar lustily, and soon there was nothing left of the dead men but glowing bones"), or sensual ("The orange is a round, scented fruit, unknown elsewhere in the civilized world, which grows green at first, then golden, with a hot rind and cold, sweet, sharp flesh").Fans of Robert Graves' other novels, like I Claudius, or of Greek myths and culture, or of exotic historical adventures, would probably enjoy this book.

  • DNF with Jack Mack
    2019-03-13 12:47

    Want to feel like you are Jason (or one of the Argonauts) and not just reading a summary? Sea voyages aren't always comfortable--and neither is this novel--but if you want to sail around the Greek world without skipping events, this is top shelf. Complete and very human, in ways both good and the bad. Get to know the individual Argonauts, and how they were chosen, plus the royal history and family lines. I enjoy how everyone is superstitious and mindful of the Gods, but the Gods aren't on stage like party extra's and wallpaper, some are even skeptical of the Gods. This is like a Dungeons and Dragons party before there was D & D: wizard, fighter, musician, thief, and so on. In the opening, we have a beautiful tale of Ancaeus at the Orange-grove. A self-contained chapter that carried me back to Antediluvian times. It changed my mental image of what society was like before the Greeks (for the better.)This book plays an interesting part in the history of the Triple-goddess, but its importance exceeds the scope of this review.

  • Erik Graff
    2019-03-10 16:34

    I read this in a U.S. edition entitled Hercules, My Shipmate issued in paperback. As I recall now, four decades later, the novel begins with a woman raping a man and continues lustily throughout. As a fourteen-year-old this was quite a new, and captivating, take on the "Voyage of the Argonauts" previously known to me through Edith Hamilton's The Greek Myths. Now, of course, all the sex, none of it explicit, would probably seem quaintly amusing.As in so many of his books, particularly the non-fictional White Goddess, Graves was a twentieth century proponent of what might be called "original matriarchy" theory. Unlike Bachofen, however, he did not fear so much as respect (and desire) the women. Indeed, in his view, without them, without desire, no poetry, no culture.

  • Golan Schzukin
    2019-03-12 12:33

    Interesting twist of on the Argunauts mithology. Probably had siginificant influence on the recent "Song of Troy" written by McCullough Colleen.The gods play a big role in everything that happens in the book, however they are not as active players as in normal mithology, and they are more rooted into the beleifs all people.

  • Rafa Sánchez
    2019-02-27 14:32

    If you want to learn about greek mithology and amuse yourself, this is your book...

  • Sarah Sammis
    2019-03-05 14:26

    A weird by enjoyable retelling of the Hercules Myth by the man who wrote I Claudius.

  • Brenna
    2019-02-28 13:27

    Great retelling of the Argonautika. Retains the spirit of the original and adds a slightly bawdy and exuberant spirit highly appropriate to the tale.

  • Steve Shilstone
    2019-03-04 14:38

    I like this particular Graves' effort a mere one Pegasus wing feather width more than his extremely worthy others.

  • Alina
    2019-02-20 11:49

    Overall I did like this book, but I have very mixed feelings about it. The writing reads very nicely and gives the narrative an epic tone, which I liked. But as we have no focalizer and an omniscient narrator, I couldn't really connect to the characters and felt very detached from the story, it just didn't draw me in. It is a very interesting book, though. There's a lot to learn about Jason and the Argonauts in here, and I think it's amazing how much additional information the reader is offered. Graves begins his tale way before Jason, with a religious change in Greece and how the Golden Fleece actually came to be. The struggle between the Triple Goddess and the Olympic system was extremely interesting and I really enjoyed those parts! I also liked that none of the characters are plain and perfect heroes. I'm still not sure if there are truly any heroes in here. Hercules, for example, came across as more of a comic relief character, his stupidity and accidental brutality often had me laughing. Then there's Medea, who isn't just this evil princess but who's feelings and motives are very much analysed. So while I wasn't drawn into the story and sometimes felt bored by the plot, I liked how much the book had me thinking all the time, and the many details it offers. I would definitely recommend this if you want to know more about this particular myth! I also wrote a longer review on my blog, if you'd like to know more :)

  • Pinko Palest
    2019-03-04 15:24

    A wonderful novel. Graves retells the story of the Golden Fleece, Jason, Medea and the Argonauts, superimposing upon it a struggle between the old, matrineal gods and their followers, and the new, patriarchal gods of Olympus and their followers (many of the protagonists are inbetween though). All magic has been taken out of the original story, and there is always a rational explanation for what was magical initially, with one exception: this is the ghosts and they do play a major role. Characterisation is quite good too, as one would expect from Graves, but the plot is truly stunning

  • Marla Lannister
    2019-03-04 09:23

    La trama es bastante interesante, la prosa muy buena y, sin duda, se hace más ameno que un texto griego original. Sin embargo, a la hora de hacerte empatizar con los personajes (incluso a pesar de que algunos de ellos son realmente geniales) y de hacer los diálogos vívidos Graves fracasa casi totalmente.

  • Justin Howe
    2019-02-27 12:25

    Graves' retelling of Jason and the Argonauts that's long-steeped in his White Goddess interpretations of mythology. Entertaining at times, but occasionally awful and awkward. Not as good as Mary Renault's The King Must Die.

  • Chris Gager
    2019-02-23 13:21

    I'm reading this(starting today) at the recommendation of a fellow G'reader who was responding to my review of a Mary Renault book. I tracked it down in the stacks of my employer's library(Bowdoin College). Nice to see the extensive collection of literature you won't find in a modest local public library. Plus you get to check books out for 6 MONTHS! I picked this one up as well as MR's three Alexander books so I'll be busy with THAT for a while plus knocking off some more of the "currently reading" list. I gather that RG was a pretty famous poet as well. Prolific...Now in just a little ways but there's plenty there already as Graves is a "meaty" writer. One curious note:according to Mary Renault the adventures of Theseus came after the Argonauts but in this book(published earlier) it's vice versa. I think...After 50 pages I have to say that Mr. Graves is SERIOUS about giving us the complete back story here. For someone whose background in Greek Mythology is pretty much "The Greek Way" by Edith Hamilton(read way back in prep school), Mary Renault's Theseus books plus various movies like "Jason and the Argonauts" the author's detail is kind of intimidating. But also fascinating as it portrays the hazy interface that occurs at about 1,000 BCE between the Gods and god-like humans like Herakles and Jason. The accounting of how the older Goddess-based religion gradually gave way to the more familiar Olympian set-up is interesting and a combination(I assume) of stories/legends carried by bards like Homer and archaeological investigation. By the time of Classical Greece(500 BCE[or so] and later) the line between human and god is well-defined. I'm ready for the Argo to get going...Things are getting more lively with the arrival of the Babe Ruth of Ancient Greece: Herakles(or Hercules as RG calls him). So far he's by far the most compelling character, in fact maybe the ONLY compelling character so far. What we do get is a dense portrayal of a pagan culture replete with gods, goddesses, ghosts, curses, demons, superstitions, myths, legends etc. A bit alien and scary and so different from our mostly secular/rational life today. Still... the "old" ways persist even in the USA. Just read an article in The New Yorker about Joe Girardi whose wife says their household and family is about Jesus 24/7. Sounds kind of "pagan" to me. This computer just seized up so I must begin again. I love/hate the f'ing things. The boys(plus one girl) have sailed and rowed into the Black Sea but not without some serious trouble and one ghost stowaway. The ceremonies on Samothrace were impressively described by our narrator, the late Little Ancaeus, though he was forbidden to include some mysterious detail. Speaking of details, the cultural descriptions put me in mind of Herodotus, though I haven't actually read any of that yet. The stories are legends and myths full of heroic feuding, feeding, fucking and fighting but in a way they all seem like a bunch of savages with a massive religious "thing" as backdrop. Fun though...Halfway through now and Hercules has been left behind to go shovel horse manure. Too bad since he's the most interesting character. Jason is kind of a waffling weasel actually. They're all good fighters(killers) though. The question still comes up as to the historical order of things as Orpheus tells the story of Daedalus and Theseus. Definitely different than Mary Renault's version and of course out of temporal order according to her. Did some archaeological evidence come out that made her(later) books more valid in that regard?The action has really intensified as the Argo reaches Colchis and "things" happen. No spoilers from me though... I did check Wiki and according to the Medea page the Theseus stuff comes after the Jason stuff. So far the Gods have actively intervened in only one instance described by Graves though it's the most important event in the book. The protagonists of course assume that the Gods are intervening in many ways, particulaly the weather. In Mary Renault's books the Gods are certainly kept at more of a distance so I guess you could say it's more realistic.Not much farther(further?) to go. By virtue of constant lying and manipulating with a little killing here and there the Argos are getting closer to home. Jason the weasel has one more big betrayal to come of course.And now done with this book crammed full of adventure and culture. At the end RG offers some explanations and references for his decisions in the book, including the hero chronology issues. Never be solved without a time machine I suppose. His treatment of Medea is a bit different than Mary Renault's. For him she's a victim of circumstance as well and divinely inspired infatuation with Jason. MR portrays her in older age as the witchy, murderous, manipulative wife of Aegeus who tries to get him to murder his own son. Then again... she WAS involved in some pretty nasty doings in service of Jason too. Notes:- Achilles mentioned at the end as the son of Argonaut Peleus.- Interesting quote: "Next, let me ask whether a child can be said to be murdered before it has been born... ? Hmmm...Final verdict: 4.25*

  • Euclides Carrillo
    2019-03-07 10:49

    I read this book in spanish

  • Lee Broderick
    2019-03-13 13:35

    I was fairly scathing of Robert Graves's The Greek Myths in my review. This one is awkward then, because it displays some of the same flaws whilst also answering my other criticisms in some style. Graves's telling of The Golden Fleece is as dependent upon Margaret Alice Murray's ideas as his later collection of tales - ideas which he would later expound upon himself in The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, a book which Lawrence Norfolk, in my introduction, suggests may be simply a more academic version of this novel.Yes, I said novel. This is where the book differs from those others and overcomes some of my misgivings. Graves explicitly set out to set this myth in (proto-)historical context and to make it real in a way that the supernatural never can be. Thus gods are very real for some, even as some characters deride them and plainly perceive them to be fictitious even if they never articulate that fact. Centaurs and satyrs are horse-men and goat-men only in the metaphorical sense - they are clans with totemic animals. All of which seems eminently plausible. The Argonauts chafe and squabble as they plainly would - something possibly based on the author's own experience in the WW1 trenches. The characters are real and recognisable - which doesn't mean to say sympathetic - Idos is crass, iconoclastic, sarcastic and atheistic, Butes is the arch food-snob, Hercules is a generous but loud and boorish pederast and Jason himself is a sulky, selfish, petulant pretty-boy.The book has much to recommend it then but, even if it is a story and not the dry account that was a feature of The Greek Myths I found that Grave's poetic prose is not exactly to my taste.

  • Alex Politis
    2019-03-01 11:34

    As is the case with every Graves book that I have read, this is an excellent read from start to finish. It's the story of the Argonauts, what more do you need? However, readers must be prepared for Graves's own adaptation of the myth. He is trying to discover what was really behind the myth and put it into more "human" terms while still keeping most of the supernatural elements intact. As a Greek, I am well versed with every version of the story, through the Apollonius version, the Pindar version and the Apollodorus version which are somehow different to one another. Those were my bedtime stories after all. With this, Graves follows a more personal adaptation and a more loose description of the places, characters and idiosyncrasies involved in the play. For example, Hercules is depicted as a rowdy, almost barbaric brute with a passionate relationship with his protege Hylas (with whom Graves replaces Iphicles, Hercules's brother from another father and usual partner in his Labours). While people might be confused and take this as almost pederastic, this would be a common mistake that became common after the misinterpretation of the Greek word "Erastes " as sexual partner in the first translations of the Ancient Greek texts during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance era. Graves does not make that mistake though but puts the concept in the story and makes fun with it. Jason appears as a indecisive leader, a young hero who lets himself be influenced by his crew, some of the real Argonauts are not even present. The Minoan historical and mythological figures are changed or omitted, Theseus of Athens is placed in a different timeframe and position than what he should be at the time of the story and while he should be a member of the crew by all the ancient versions of the text, he is not. In short, he is not accurate to the point since that would mean that he would only be rewriting the whole thing. Where would the fun be with that? His is a different angle on a story lost in the ages and it is a very enjoyable one!

  • Michael Bafford
    2019-03-03 08:49

    "The Golden Fleece" as it was and should be called is a bit like the Oddessey in that there is no clear plot line - as in the Iliad - rather it is a series of scenes and adventures tied together by striving for a goal. There are many argonauts and I found it hard to keep track of them all. A few stand out: the man with clear sight. What was his name? Ly... and the bully and blasphemer Idas, the swimmer Eu...? the huntress Atalanta and her hopeless lover Men...? The little guy who opens the book and is invoked as muse: Little As...? Nope, Greek names I find impossible to remember. Exceptions: Jason, Medea, Orpheus, Hercules. (And why is he not called Herakles?)That being said this was great. I should probably read Apollonius of Rhodes original text, as much of Graves story seems to be taken from there. Original? Hardly that, this story was apparently older than Homer while Apollonius was current with Ashoka and the State of Qin.This was written after Graves discovered the Great Triple Goddess and began writing queer books about her. Watch the Northwind Rise is one - which I am also reading (aka Seven Days in New Crete) and the definitive text is of course The White Goddess which I came across in college. Graves uses this story to explain how the Olympians came in with the Acheans; first sharing power and then surplanting the Triple Goddess as the highest religious authority. And that part too is interesting, as are the insights - poetic insights I would assume - into her rites. All in all a good read for those of us who love mythology, tales of adventure and Ancient Greece.

  • Kirk Macleod
    2019-03-06 08:49

    Continuing to work my way through the Bronze age of Ancient Greece in historical fiction novels, I've just finished Robert Graves look at Jason and Argonauts in The Golden Fleece (1944).From a modern perspective the book is a little tricky to read as the cadence of the prose worked differently than modern text, so it took some time to get comfortably into the reading. Past that, the book has a massive amount of background information on early religion and mythology, that at times was a little too detailed for me (moving much closer to his nonfiction book The White Goddess, 1948), but once the crew of the Argonaut gets moving the story began to work quite nicely as a series of adventures including Jason, Hercules and Orpheus, all of which had nice character moments throughout.Unlike Mary Renault or Steven Pressfield's work on the story of Theseus, Graves story is quite omfortable including gods and magic throughout, sticking closer to the mythology than focusing on the "story-behind-the-story" format of the books I've read so far on the list.Although I didn't enjoy it as my as his earlier work (Goodbye to All That, 1929, I Claudius 1934, and Claudius the God 1935), I did find the story rewarding and am looking forward to the next on the list The Iliad, by Homer.

  • Davie Mclean
    2019-03-09 08:39

    Robert graves brings vividly to life heros from ancient greece. his take on the personality's that man the argo is a facinating character study. when the finest warriors and explorers ar gathered on a perilous quest to reclaim to the fleece of zeus from the kingdom of colchis, ego's and sword's clash as jason an unworthy captain in view of many of his crew tries to maintain order on the infamous vessel as it transverse's the known world. robert graves who wrote a volume on greek mythology here relishes fleshing out all the characters of the expedition. methodical research is has been used to create a historical faithful account of one of the worlds oldest takles. his humerous portrayal of Hercules as a deeply flawed , and very human diety is in my view one of the most interesting players in the narrative.Atalanta is the only female memeber of the crew but her skill and bravery is superior to any of her comrades. i enjoyed the theme of the struggle in greek society between matriach religeous worship and patriach.this is by far my favorite book of graves. genuis.

  • Cliff
    2019-03-17 15:38

    I have read and likes many Robert Graves books. But this one was too much like a dense book of myths for an academic audience, and not much of a story. I almost gave up about 10% of the way in. But I read some reviews here, and decided to keep going. I guess that I am glad that I did. I still did not enjoy it. If you approach this as a story, in the sense of a normal historical novel, it leaves a lot to be desired. Unlike nearly all of Graves' other historical novels, which I have enjoyed. While it does tell the story, it seems to have a lot of additional material that a novelist would not have put in. I don't know how much of this is Graves, and how much is some sort of translation from source material, since I do not know the source or what Graves was trying to accomplish with this book.You do get a lot of detail, including historical (I hope reliable) context. That is interesting.

  • Tchipakkan
    2019-03-13 12:45

    I probably read this in high school and thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it. With a myth you already know the story- the trick is to see how the writer makes it work. I love Graves' perspective and am going back to revisit his myths and the White Goddess.I was struck by how few scholars these days (or maybe I just don't hang in the right circles) actually read the classics in Greek and Latin. What sources we must be missing! We do have the modern information that comes from Archeology and aerial photography, but these sources tell what the men of the time (or at least those who wrote about them) in their own words.My greatest complaint is the difficulty in finding a map to follow along. They had one of the Aegean area, but once they got past Lemos, we were (like the Argonauts) in Terra Incognita. Apparently Graves had a large government map of the Black Sea while he was writing it. I wish he'd included a map in the book!

  • Martin
    2019-02-23 11:21

    This was a fun bedtime read. It feels like we went on an epic family adventure reading it together. Why only 3 stars? The books writing is stilted. From the time the Argo launches until the successful return of the fleece the pace of the book moves. The building of the Argo and the choosing of the crew portion of the book is slow. The chapter following the quest's completion was a big lousy downer. If I'd have known, I'd have skipped it.It's clever that one can read the book as full of magic, strange beings, and divine intervention OR it's just the story of some violent men from small towns in Greece, the magic only in the names. Are centaurs half-men and half-horse or are they just men in the warrior fraternity of the horse? The only exception to this "rule" of the book is Hercules. He's a drunken, half-mad, immature monster. His closest friends fear him and he is without a conscious.For all its faults, the story has stuck with me.BEST BOOK COVER EVER!

  • Andrew Peters
    2019-03-06 14:42

    I will have to come back to this one. About 150 pages into it on my e-reader, I concluded that I bit off more than I can chew here. I was looking for some good, authentic ancient world literature. This may have been too authentic. I felt like I was slogging through the Iliad, back in high school, wondering what the heck I was missing in this classic text.As others have forewarned, the story builds very slowly and with numbing detail. There's an intriguing start to the story with the history of goddess-worshiping societies and their subjugation by male-centric tribes, and much later, I enjoyed the introduction of the character of Hercules, who is a big, reckless oaf with an endearing attachment to a boy he decided to husband around with him. But I found myself unable to stay engaged with the long, long passages leading into Jason's voyage (just to make things harder to follow, there are several characters named Jason in just those 150 pages!).

  • Nathan
    2019-03-01 14:47

    In which Graves (of I, Claudius) writes a Greek myth. There were many moments in reading this when I forgot that this was written in 1943 and not translated from the original Greek - the style fits seemlessly in with the translations one finds in, say, the Penguin Classics. The voyage of the Jason and the Argonauts is brought to life exceedingly well. The heroes are for the most part well sketched characters (especially the drunken old sentmental bully Hercules) and none of them likeable (especially golden-haired Jason). Their adventures are shorn of the more mythic aspects (such as the Harpies) and shown as more mundane in origin. A really nice read, if you're into this sort of thing. Rated MA for violence and bloody sacrifice. 4/5

  • Ayelén Glasswen
    2019-03-16 15:50

    Amé esta historia mucho mucho. Graves logra describir a los personajes griegos bajo una luz propia que es estupenda. Me encantó como presenta al personaje de Hércules, nunca nadie lo hizo de esta forma y al mismo tiempo es completamente creíble y brillante. Medea, Atalanta, Jason, Orfeo, todos están geniales. Ni una sola linea de este libro tiene desperdicio, es una genialidad. En mi gusto el mejor de todos los de Graves.