4 out of 5 stars
The point about classical tales is that they are a recollection of a bygone age, telling the stories of the gods and their dealings with lesser entities and their run-ins with mere mortals. These stories have entertained and informed people for over two millennia now, but do they have any relevance to the modern age and life in the fast-paced relentless world we live in.
Someone who wants to see if their messages in the myths are still relevant today is Peter Fiennes. It is a literal and a physical journey to the beautiful country of Greece travel to the locations and walk through the beautiful land and seascapes. To help him navigate these ancient paths he refers to Pausanius’ Guide to Greece, a collection of ten volumes that was written in the second century AD. He is also in search of the best Greek salad too as he travels from Athens, across the Peloponnese, tramps around the ruins of Corinth, onto Olympia and wanders around Delphi.
It is a well-trodden path and he is following the literary footsteps of Henry Miller, Patrick Leigh Fermor and of course, Byron. As well as looking back the past 2000 years and more, Fiennes is looking at the state of the country now and considering the impact that climate change will have.
I didn’t think that it was as focused as his previous two books and it felt more whimsical, but I think that this was the effect he was going for. He recounts the dreams that he has on his travels, hoping to find that the ancient landscape has given them meaning. I must admit that I am not a huge fan of classical stories and do not know all of them. Fiennes does make them relevant though. However, I did like the travel aspect of this book a lot. The descriptions of the landscapes that he passes through on foot or by bus are quite evocative and his easy-going character brings out the best in the people he meets. Good to hear that he met up with Julian Hoffman too who takes him to some of the wildlife spots in Greece and highlights some of the impending ecological issues that the country will face. Good stuff and if you like Greece then this should be on your reading list.