Mieza Book Club: Orestes: The Young Lion (Chapters 6 – 10)

Read the Introduction to the Mieza Book Club here
Thee previous minutes of the Mieza Book Club can be found here

Orestes: The Young Lion by Laura Gill

Orestes: The Young Lion
by Laura Gill
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Chapter Six to Ten
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At 7pm sharp, the meeting was called to order by club president Seleucus. Members were asked if they had their copies of Orestes: The Young Lion with them. For the second week running, Amyntas of Pella and Amyntas of Aegae didn’t, so were voted by a show of hands to be tonight’s designated drivers. Amyntas of Pella sulked. Again.
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The original intention had been to discuss chapters six to fifteen; that we only made it up to chapter ten in the course of this meeting is a credit to Laura Gill’s penmanship. Or should that be penwomanship? Or even penpersonship? I expect that is what they say in the Labour Party. But it is not what we say in the MBC, which – if the members were with me as I write up the introduction – would probably be ‘Get on with the review of this book’. So let’s get (on with it).
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Meleagar “In the sixth chapter of the book Orestes barfs. I know it is a serious moment but it made me smile as it rather reminded me of my first year up. I attended a party in my tutor’s room, got a little tight, and threw up in the stairs. My sister saw me; frightfully embarrassing.”
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Seleucus “That was a dashed silly thing to do. Who was the tutor? Not Prissy Perkins, I hope.”
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Meleagar “Oh God no; Mrs Randall. Lovely creature.”
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A short discussion on members’ tutors followed. A vote was taken and they were all declared (with the exception of Professor Crutwell who is well known to be beastly) to be good eggs.
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Leonnatus “I am stil captivated by the knowledge of where the story is heading. I spoke about it to a fellow during the week who said, ‘But doesn’t it make the story dull knowing that Orestes and Elektra will one day kill Clytaemnestra?’ and I had to say, ‘no, old chap, no more than a car crash is less tense or shocking because you saw the two cars approaching each other’.
….. “By retelling a well known story, Gill can’t make use of the suspense of the mystery, but it doesn’t matter because she is very good at capturing the suspense of the moment.”
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Seleucus “I say, that is an excellent turn of phrase, Leo’. ‘Suspense of mystery’ and ‘suspense of the moment’. I shall have to remember that.”
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Several members murmured ‘here, here’ to Seleucus’ response
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Alexander of Epirus “Last week my first comment was a rather flippant one so I shall make up for that with something a little earnest this time. It is on the issue of verisimilitude, which our dear leader mentioned last week; I simply love Ms Gill’s references to Mycenaean culture and life. Especially of the sword smith at work. I know they are secondary to the actual story but in a sense it is those moments that make the story. If that makes sense.”
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Harpalus “For someone with no practical ability at all, Alexander, I am surprised to hear you say that!”
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Laughter at Harpalus’ comment but there were nods of agreement around the table at what Alexander of Epirus said. The motion ‘This group approves of Laura Gill’s use of verisimilitude” was passed unanimously.
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Harpalus “Further to what Alexander said, and again, to go back to what I said last week, I was pleased to see the reference in Chapter Ten to Herakles as a real man. Philaretos says his father saw him.”
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Alexander of Epirus “He doesn’t exactly cut a heroic figure, though, does he. How does Ms Gill describe him? Here it is: “A great big man, with yellow teeth… bloodshot eyes, and wearing a lion skin smelling like goat piss”!
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Seleucus “We could accuse Ms Gill of being ever-so modern in bringing the gods down to our level but the fact is that in the ancient texts the Greek gods could be very human in their behaviour sometimes; for example, they got angry, hateful, and lustful just like we do.”
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Peucestas “The desire to reduce God or the gods to our level seems to me to be an enduring habit of human beings. For example, chaps at chapel who think less of Our Lord and more of My Mate.”
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Theban Al “I have two points to make. Firstly, I was struck in the tenth chapter how Orestes says he ate game – alright – and drunk wine. I have to admit I’m a little confused as to how old he is at this point – between 7 and 14? – but I was dashed impressed that he was drinking wine already. That may just be me; I didn’t start drinking alcohol until I was 16 or 17.”
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Seleucus “I was under the impression that Orestes is still seven or eight at that point. On the matter of the wine, don’t forget that wine in antiquity would – I believe – have been much weaker than ours, and much safer to drink than water for want of purifying plants.”
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Theban Al “I take your point. My second one was to commend another good turn of phrase by Ms Gill. Clytaemnestra asks Orestes if he would like to ‘wear a curse as [his] crown’. Very effective.”
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Murmurs of approval at this comment from the members. Pipes lit. Amyntas of Pella took money from the kitty to buy the next round of beers.
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Peucestas “I would like to nominate this week’s Scene of the Night. Like Alexander I enjoyed the sword smith scene; Kleitos ‘braining’ the poor hare was also quite a moment, but on a serious level, Orestes entering Agamemnon’s quarters and finding it to be in a state of desolation was brilliant. I was completely expecting him to walk into a grand, gold shining, silver burnished, jewelly chamber, but no – bird droppings, broken furniture and peeling walls. Bang went my expectations. First class.”
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Theban Al “I second that – the scene was powerful not just because it was surprising but for what it tells us about Clytaemnestra. I also liked the fact that it is not just a one-off moment; Orestes finds the pieces of pottery and sets about reconstructing it.”
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After Amyntas of Pella came back from the bar with our beers and his Coke Cola, we took a vote on the Scene of the Night; Orestes in his father’s room was selected against stiff opposition, it has to be said, from Orestes’ fight with Hippasos, which reminded several members of their school days. Further to this, the word of the night was ‘killkillkill!’ as being both funny and chilling.
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The Club President Writes:
“On behalf of the MBC I should like to thank Alexander’s Other Secretary for agreeing to publish these edited minutes. We don’t publish the full ones because our meetings generally last all evening and nearly always descend into ribald conversation later on that is really not fit for a blog.
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I should also like to thank Ms Gill for her comment after out first post, and clarification on her correct title.
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Last, but most certainly not least, thank you to you the reader for taking the time out of your day to read this. I hope you find our minutes interesting and entertaining.”
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Mieza. Where Aristotle taught and a collection of students found something better than football to talk about: books.

Mieza. Where Aristotle taught and a collection of students found something better than football to talk about: books.

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  • Orestes: The Young Lion is available to buy in various formats. Here it is at Amazon.
  • If you know of a book that the Mieza Book Club should read, let us know in the comments box
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