The Mask of Apollo
|Name:||The Mask of Apollo|
|Country of Origin:||South Africa|
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The Mask of Apollo is an historical novel by Mary Renault, set in Ancient Greece in the 4th century B.C. Its timeline lies between The Last of the Wine (which was written first) and Fire from Heaven (which was written later); and a youthful Alexander the Great is seen in the final pages, pointing to the focus of Renault's later work. The book was published simultaneously by Longman (London) and Pantheon (New York) in 1966.
The Mask of Apollo focuses on the life and times of Nikeratos, an actor from Athens. This not only allowed Renault to explore the world of acting in Ancient Greece; but, since actors in the Ancient world travelled a great deal but were (in general) outside the political factions of the period, the use of an actor as protagonist provided her with a vehicle for examining contemporary politics, specifically the reign of Dionysios the Younger of Syracuse. Renault also explored the philosophies of Plato (who had been included as a young man in The Last of the Wine).
The Mask of Apollo is not the most popular of Renault’s books but nonetheless has some devoted fans.
The maryrenaultfics LiveJournal community has not held any chapter-by-chapter discussion about this novel. However, there have been noteworthy individual discussions.
- Analysis of Renault's repeated motifs and shadowing in The Mask of Apollo presented as a whimsical dialgue between the cat Pernicious and his amanuensis.
- A discussion on religion in Renault's Ancient Greece novels touched upon religion in The Mask of Apollo
In Their Own Words
In 2008 maryrenaultfics began a project which involved 'interviews' of characters from Renault’s novels. Extensive interviews were conducted with Nikeratos and Thettalos (the latter being an actual historical character, who—in Renault's book—is Niko’s lover). In addition, the 'As Overheard' thread included a discussion which revealed their shock at learning the differences between the ancient and modern arts of acting, not least the presence of women on the modern stage. The elderly Plato of this novel appeared in a discussion about honour, pride and shame.
Nikeratos and Thettalos have proved a popular pair in subsequent ITOWverse ficlets. They are seen making love in the 'invitations' for the five year celebrations, trying strange modern foods at Christmas, and winning the tragedy competition at the Lenaia (New Year's) celebration.
For more detail, please see the article about ITOWverse.
The Mask of Apollo fan fiction has been written in the context of Yuletide on several occasions.
- "The Muses Speak" by innervoice_chan – Amusing ficlets where the characters comment about modern plays
- "Naxian Wine" by baranduin - Thettalos misses Niko on his first tour away
- "In the God’s Hands" and "Conquests New" by fawatson – set after the novel – explore the two actors' relationship with each other while in the employ of Alexander the Great (crossover with The Alexander Trilogy).
- "True Friends Have Nothing Private" by Zdenka – Axiothea and Thettalos discuss the sack of Syracuse.
- "And Many Fates Fulfill" by the_antichris – Nikeratos muses about Orestes and Dion.
- "Eros Crowned" by baranduin – Dion and Nikeratos kiss
- "Untitled" by innervoice_chan - Young Dion meets an actor's son.
- "νόστος (Homecoming)" by innervoice_chan as a Yuletide 2010 gift for fawatson - Thettalos loves the actor's wandering life, but in the end he knows where his home is.
- "We Pass and Speak One Another" by innervoice_chan as a Yuletide Madness gift for fawatson - Three sketches of Thettalos, by chance-met strangers on the road.
- "Paying One's Dues" by fawatson for the Spooky Challenge held in October 2010 at maryrenaultfics - Nikeratos' father's ghost watches over his son.
- "Shipwreck" by fawatson for the Spooky Challenge held in October 2011 at maryrenaultfics - Missing scene about the shipwreck Nikeratos experiences on his way back from Syracuse.
- "The Third Man" by Penknife - crossover with Highlander - Niko goes on tour with an unfamiliar third actor in his company.
- Introduction post by pernishus in the maryrenaultfics community, 5 December 2004. Accessed 4 August 2010.
- Religion in Renault's books post by innervoice_chan in the maryrenaultfics community, 13 February 2005. Accessed 4 August 2010.
- Five Years On: Nikeratos/Thettalos invitation written by fawatson, posted 30 May 2009. Accessed 27 July 2010.
- Christmas at the Clubhouse: Treats", posted 26 December 2009. Accessed 27 July 2010.
- "Christmas at the Clubhouse: Incense, Gold and Myrrh", posted 4 January 2010. Accessed 27 July 2010.