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Eromenos: A novel of ancient Rome (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 10. März 2011

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Melanie McDonald has an MFA in fiction from the University of Arkansas. Her work has appeared in New York Stories, Fugue, Indigenous Fiction, and online. She won a 2008 Hawthornden Fellowship in Scotland for Eromenos. She also has pursued the craft of writing in New York, Galway, Paris, and in Italy while at work on this novel.


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Amazon.com: 4.0 von 5 Sternen 29 Rezensionen
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4.0 von 5 Sternen A Handsome Youth 20. Februar 2011
Von Roger Brunyate - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
First, the facts. The Greek youth Antinous of Bithynia was born in Asia Minor in 111 CE. Seeing him on a visit to the province in 124, the Roman Emperor Hadrian, a lover of all things Greek, invited the boy to Rome as a page in the Imperial court. Before long, Antinous has become Hadrian's favorite and presumably lover, accompanying him on many trips abroad. In 130, shortly before reaching his majority, Antinous drowned in the Nile. The grief-stricken Hadrian declared Antinous a god, starting a cult that lasted for several centuries after his death.

Melanie McDonald's short novel is rooted in carefully-researched history, but brought to life by her imagination, which she focuses especially on two things: the unknown circumstances surrounding Antinous' death, and the implications of his relationship with Hadrian as implied by her title, EROMENOS. The brief prologue makes clear that Antinous is setting down the facts of his life before he dies; McDonald is entirely persuasive in her theory about that death, and the whole book essentially leads to this moment. "Eromenos" is the Greek word for the adolescent lover taken by the "Erastes" or young patrician man as an accepted custom in classical society; it has no necessary connection with the sexual orientation of either participant, although the relationship might be as much physical as spiritual. McDonald investigates the emotional implications of being in this position. There are times when this novel becomes just too historical -- when she has to get in one more fact or one more quotation -- but it comes to life when she feels with Antinous' heart. Here he is, on the threshold of the adult world, in a city that IS the whole world, being given the favor of the man who rules that world. There is nothing he would not do for Hadrian, but he cannot approach as an equal. His role, by its nature, involves submission. His selfhood expands beyond measure, but the only use he can make of his self is to sacrifice it.

Look up images of Antinous, and you will find two things. On the one hand a series of portrait busts and statues distinguished by a Hellenic grace that suggest the real youth behind this idealized figure. On the other, a number of recent illustrations that testify to Antinous' role as a gay icon. It is to McDonald's credit that, while never prudish about the sexual acts involved, she does not pander to the pornography of the latter approach. Her book is as distinguished in its typography as in its poised and balanced writing. When she deals with lust -- as for example when Antinous takes a Caledonian slave girl he has been given as a present -- it is to explore the paradoxical contrast between the physical and the ideal, between taking and giving. You do not need to be gay to find much to think about here; most of these issues are relevant to heterosexual relationships as well. And it is fascinating to read about them in such a meticulous recreation of an ancient time and culture.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Review from [...] 12. Oktober 2011
Von Bibliotropic .net - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Not being a real scholar of Greek or Roman history, I went into this novel somewhat blind. I knew various things about the attitudes such cultures held regarding homosexuality, but was not familiar with the story of Antinous and Hadrian, and so I have to say right from the beginning that I can't confirm or deny just how historically accurate this book is. (However, when a book that's less than 200 pages long can boast a 3-page bibliography, it's a fair bet that the author put a good amount of thought and research into what they wrote.)

What I can confirm is that if you're someone to enjoy historical fiction set in this time period and you can appreciate the concept of a caring homosexual relationship, then you really ought to read this book. For all that it's short, it doesn't lack for much. Details are sparse in some areas, but given that it's written as though by Antinous himself, in the style of a memoir, that's forgivable. The important details are there, the ones that mean something to Antinous and to the situation he's in. While there is clearly passion, he tries to tell the story in a dispassionate way, to record the facts rather than to wax eloquent. It works well.

You can't help but really get a feel for what Antinous goes through, his thoughts and realizations and his dealings with Hadrian's court. Nor can you entirely blame him at the end, for his sacrifice, trying to preserve what they had before it, by necessity, has to end. When Antinous comes of age, he can no longer be accepted as Hadrian's lover, as it was shameful to have two full men be in such a relationship.

I closed this book feeling, aside from melancholy, the urge to go and learn more about these two people, and the world in which they lived. Melanie McDonald did a beautiful job of introducing me to a wider world, and for that, she deserves congratulations. I can only imagine the effect that this might have on others, opening them up to a historical romance that's unlike most others.

I rated this book 4 out of 5. If I gave half-points, it would have been 4.5, losing a small amount only because I thought the book was a little too short. Not so much as to make the storytelling suffer, but it still felt as though she could have tackled more and still held my interest without complaint. I'll say one thing, though. If I ever find another one of her books, I'll be hard-pressed to not buy it!
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An excellent fictional autobiography of Antinous 17. April 2011
Von OpheliaAutumn - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
I won this book thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I discovered Antinous during a parisian exhibition about Hadrian's Villa in 1999 and was fascinated by the myth he generated and how little we know about him: a young Greek fron Bithynia which was the Roman Emperor Hadrian's favorite, died at about nineteen by drowning in the Nile, and was later deified. I was looking forward to reading a fiction about him and I was not disappointed at all by this fictional autobiography.
Melanie McDonald's Eromenos is an impressive first book - with a beautiful cover!
The book is carefully researched and it shows - in a positive way. A lot of historical and cultural references are intelligently used, for instance, carefully selected comparisons refering to Greek or Roman culture as well as to a country-based childhood - "like a tiny Antaeus", ... - that Antinous could really have used.
Antinous thinks and acts like a Greek Roman subject of his time, and thus sometimes quite differently from us, which proves the tale to be carefully researched and historically acurate.
Indeed, Ms McDonald has carefully attended to topics such as Greek and/or Roman sexuality, philosphy, politics, way of life, ... and it is very interesting.
But the historical accuracy is not all that is likeable in the book nor all that makes it believable. The cultural clashes between Hadrian's time and ours don't prevent us from caring for Antinous. Indeed, the novel exudes emotion and empathy, Antinous is a real human being, not the unknowable and mysterious idol we might think of. I liked to read Ms McDonald's account of what his character could have been as well as that of Hadrian, not to mention the interesting secondary characters such as Korias, Amyrra, Marcus, Favorinus...
It is a powerful tale about love and hate, free-will and death.
The writing style embellishes this novel, I really found it beautifully written and witty (I loved such sentences as "butterflies, those scraps of color that feather the meadows each spring" ). It is also carefully divided between the four Elements, all of them leading to the fateful conclusion.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A poignant, moving story; subject matter handled elegantly 3. Mai 2011
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Intriguiging, surprisingly touching story, voiced in first-person journal narrative. Not a long book, but so richly told you'll feel like you're there -- time travel in print. Plan to read this in one sitting. Tremendous detail in every area from culture to food to attitudes (reflecting massive amounts of research). Relationship between Hadrian and Antinous very well imagined and tenderly portrayed. Don't be dissuaded by the subject of a male-male relationship; this is a portrayal of early Roman and Greek culture, recounted elegantly. The private interactions between characters are much more subtle than graphic; I've actually OK'd this for my teenage daughter, who is into ancient culture. Recommended reading indeed.
7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Beauty and Sadness 6. März 2011
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
For its genre this short, excellent novel deserves five stars. I disagree that it is ever "too historical." It's too brief for that, and its glory is that it brings back the greatness of beauty and despair that one experienced when reading Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian. But it does this in its own way and with its own quiet assurance. Antinous is given his own voice for a change and even though we never experience his deepest feelings as much as we might like we know he loves Hadrian but, as the previous reviewer correctly pointed out, can never be his equal, not even in bed. And therein lies the true sadness and tragic elan of the novel, considering Antinous' selfless sacrifice, something that would allow his cult to give Christianity a run for its money for a few centuries before fading. At least there are still statues of Antinous made from life, while there is not one of Jesus. Others, including myself, have dreamed of writing this novel, but Melanie McDonald has done it and we are all in her debt for doing so. Read it and feel the lift that fictional life gives us.
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