Another thing that is striking about this novel (self didn’t notice it as much in Madeline Miller’s follow-up, Circe, the novel that came out three years ago) is that the crimes of the Greeks (rape, primarily) are front and center, but without much comment.
Chapter Twenty-Five finally focuses on one of these victims:
- One day in the ninth year, a girl mounted the dais. There was a bruise on her cheek, spreading like spilled wine down the side of her face. Ribbons fluttered from her hair — ceremonial fillets that marked her as servant to a god. A priest’s daughter . . .
Agamemnon (who, in this novel, keeps getting shown up by Achilles, even though Agamemnon is a King, the leader of the Greek army, and Achilles only a boy of sixteen) declares “I take her for myself. Then he pulled her from the dais, leading her roughly to his tent . . . and Odysseus finished the distribution.”
“The distribution”? Oh, ugh. That’s nasty. Odysseus seems completely callous (come to think of it, he’s also callous and unlikable in Circe) And this has been going on for how long now? Nine years?
Self is trying her best to remember the name of Agamemnon’s wife, but it’s not coming to her.
A month later, the girl’s father shows up in the Greek camp with wooden chests filled with gold and other treasures and tries to ransom his daughter. He describes her as “a slight girl . . . with fillets in her hair.” Uh, she has completely disappeared! Vanished! Into thin air! Is no longer a character worth mentioning! What?
Many bad things happen to the Greeks after, but it’s the casual erasure of that girl that really sticks to self’s mind. Hopefully, self will know her fate before this novel ends (though there are only about 50 pages to go, so not likely)