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Literature

Literature Review: Daughter of Sparta

May 9, 2022
By Vasilis Papoutsis

Daughter of Sparta is a reinterpretation of the classic Greek myth of Daphne and Apollo by debut author Claire M. Andrews. In the original version of the story Apollo and Daphne’s relationship was shaped by a conflict between Eros, the God of Love, and Apollo, the God of Music and Sun. Apollo, who was also the patron of archery, had insulted Eros’ ability to handle arrows, and Eros in retaliation shot Apollo with a gold arrow that instilled in him a passionate love for the river nymph Daphne. At the same time Eros shot Daphne with a lead arrow instilling in her a hatred for Apollo. Thus, their relationship was predestined to fail. Apollo, despite his many efforts, could not persuade Daphne to change her mind and heart. But in Claire M. Andrews’ novel the relationship between them is shaped by an unexpected encounter Daphne had with the Goddess Artemis, who held Daphne’s brother’s fate in her hands. In this version of the story the handsome god Apollo, who is also Artemis’ twin brother, rather than chase Daphne, helps her quest to recover nine mysterious items stolen from Mount Olympus that will have a tremendous effect on social order. If Daphne fails to find the items, then the Gods’ powers would start to fade away, chaos would prevail on Earth, and her brother’s fate sealed. Claire Andrews told The National Herald that her fascination with Greek Mythology started “when I was 6 years old from a mythology book my mom gave me, and that fascination never left me.” In her novel Daphne was given the status of a heroine as the 17-year-old has spent her life training her body and mind according to requirements of a Spartan warrior. “Daphne is headstrong, confident, compassionate, loves her brother – but is also foolish at times” Andrews said. Ancient Spartan society is famously known to be a male-dominated society, but unlike other parts of Greece, unmarried Spartan girls regularly participated in sports, and the exercise regimen for girls was designed to make them as fit as men even though they did not train for combat. Spartan women practiced running, wrestling, throwing the javelin and discus, and trained in horseback riding. Therefore, this reinterpretation of the myth reflects more accurately the reality of ancient Spartan women.

Claire Andrews’ athletic activities resemble those of the Spartan women as she likes swimming in cold waters, skiing, and hiking across Vermont’s green mountains. Apollo also gets more layers in his personality – aside from his self-assured and egotistical persona, readers can feel his insecurities and shortcomings. The book also pays homage to some of the most fascinating tales of Greek mythology as Daphne’s trip takes her from the labyrinth of the Minotaur in the palace of Knossos to the riddle-spinning Sphinx of Thebes and her teaming up with legends such as Theseus and Hippolyta of the Amazons, and against the gods themselves. Claire M. Andrews’ wish is that “mythology lovers will read the novel with an open mind to experience new adventures.”

 

 

 

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