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I read this book for the first time in high school in 1999 when we were studying World History I re read it in 2010 and it is still one of my favorite books of all time It s very historical and beautifully written Overall it is incredibly brilliant I love ancient history, specifically Greece, so this book was a dream for me The book is set in Athens, Greece during the time of the Peloponnesian Wars and follows the life of Alexias, a young Greek boy We are able to experience Alexias life, love and loss Alexias has a relationship with his best friend Lysis There is implied homosexuality but that was accepted in ancient Greece Alexias also has a wife and family Alexias studies with Socrates and Plato What I enjoyed the most about this book is that while it is full of historical fact and accuracy the focus isabout culture and society and philosophy then it is about the facts of war As the readers we are able to experience the life of an ancient Athenian citizen during a time of great upheaval and it s absolutely wonderful Mary Renault is an amazing author, her story is incredible and she succeeds at bringing ancient history to life. The Last of the Wine, although set in the ancient Greek world, like the Fire from Heaven trilogy, it s a very different work Even though the three works of the trilogy have some fabulous characters, and some fabulous character development, the action and the spectacle of Alexander s life is just as much as big a part of the book The Last of the Wine is very different Although it takes place in Greece in the fifth century BC, the time of the great upheaval caused by the Peloponnesian Wars, and though the main character, Alexias, takes part in this conflict, it s a muchsubdued and sober book than the trilogy.Renault concentrates muchon using her main characters Alexias, Lysis, Sokrates, Plato, Myron, Kritias and others to conjure up an image and a feel of what the city of Athens might have been like at the time It s less a history of the state, anda snapshot of the culture and philosophy and thoughts of the time, as transmitted and reflected through these characters It works fabulously well, especially when backed up by Renault s meticulous scholarship Both the substance and the style of this novel make this one to look out for. Later edit 29th of Oct, 2018 I said in my review there is no sex in this book, but I have to scratch that After a 24 hours debate literally with Teal and Moony we got to the conclusion this book contains one of the greatest sex scenes ever written in history, you just have to look beyond the symbolism A Masters thesis could be written from the sentence analysis we did, lol Thanks to Teal for opening our eyes to see it I saw death come for you, and I had no philosophy If you came for an easy read, I bid you to find some other book This book will rip your heart apart from the first paragraph, and will continue its sweet, beautiful torture till the end It will leave an emptiness inside you and a longing for something I still cannot put my finger on what it is I can t remember ever reading a book where grief and death were such a big part of it At times I couldn t bear it any and had to take a break from reading When I was a young boy, if I was sick or in trouble, or had been beaten at school, I used to remember that on the day I was born my father had wanted to kill me We see everything through the eyes of Alexias, a man who as a boy would have been killed by his father for being born too early and too small, if not for his mother view spoiler We see him fight under the famous Alkibiades, befriend historical figures like Socrates, Plato, Phedon and Xenophon, almost lose his life in one of the harshest historical defeaths the Athenians have ever endured during the Peloponnesian wars, and suffer under the siege the Spartans lay to Athens in the year before Athens became a vassal state to Sparta We see him grow into a man and fall in love with Lysis hide spoiler 1.99 again on US Kindle January 30, 2019 1.99 on US Kindle October 23, 2018 From the first sentence this novel has easily become my favourite I made it a tradition to read it each year and have done so now for the 15th time Some may call it obsessive, but I have to say that each time I read it I found something new in it that made me reflect on life in a different way You can not read a book and expect it to change your life, it will change your life at precisely the moment you need it The Last of the Wine has done that for me over and over again.First of all it is my desire to impress on potential readers that you don t have to be gay to like the story From my perspective it has never been a gay book even though some would like to force it into this category, but it is a book about an ancient culture when relationships between men were approved by society, when in theory it was meant to be about muchthan just love and desire The main characters would never consider themselves gay as we define the term today, it is a completely different concept The book is about society, seen from the point of view of a young man who from his first breath didn t seem to fit in, being ugly, weak and unappreciated by his kin A boy, who is humble, modest and compassionate The story tells us how he is being tossed into the fire and bent to become a decent Hellene handsome, successful, brave and sometimes even cruel.It leads us to understand how all our good intentions may be cast aside with the change of circumstances, how we as humans may think ourselves better and then do unto others what has been done to us Honour is a big issue in the novel, because it was a big issue in those days, the honour of an upright citizen of Athens Is honour what others think of us Will it be lost if an insult is not avenged Or is it simply the consequence of what we do or neglect to do We follow very well pictured characters, many of them based on historical figures, through their struggle with a complex society, a net of political intrigues, a war that in the end will shatter faith in human reason.For all those who do not think pink it will be quite a revelation to see in print, from adistant perspective than their own, why Democracy can be just as dangerous and unjust as a Tyranny It is depressing, intoxicating, intriguing and at times even hilarious.Personally, I felt every moment of it. Short review This is one of the best books I ve ever had the privilege of reading.Long review I put off finishing this book for a long time years but only because I love the characters so deeply, and based on the book s sad opening, I was afraid of a sad ending Normally this wouldn t cause me to hesitate, as I like sad endings, but in this case, I was so incredibly attached to the characters, I couldn t bear the thought of it.And the characters are, for me, the absolute heart of this book I love them in a way I rarely come to love fictional or fictionalized characters Alexias and Lysis, each fascinating and inspiring individually, are adorable together, the sort of couple that makes me hopeful about relationships in general Their dedication to constantly pursuing a higher standard of behavior makes me want to be a better person myself And of course, I now have a nagging fascination with Xenophon, Socrates, etc.My only complaint about Wine is how much of the story is about the war, with all the politics and battles and state level dramas When I m in the mood for that sort of thing, Renault is fantastic at it but when I just want to know what s going on with Lysis and Alexias, the latest exploits of Alkibiades are less than satisfying.There are a great many tragic moments in this book, many of which are not stated directly but are left for the reader to apprehend for him or herself I loved this, because it made me almost a participant in the story.The language is thick and not easy or fast to read, but while I often found it challenging, there was never a sentence that wasn t worth deciphering, in the end Frankly, the language is beautiful and extraordinarily poetic I can see how the forcefully slowed pace could be annoying, but as I said, I was in no hurry to finish for another reason, and the language s intricacy gave me something to savor.Another criticism I ve seen of this book is the deluge of references to ancient Greek culture and historical events Personally, these barriers were not a great hindrance to the story itself for me Maybe I had just barely enough background knowledge that it wasn t an issue for me I don t know But it s given me not only a lengthy list of people, places, events, and cultural trivia to look up and study indepth it s given me a reason to care about these things This book is the reason I m taking the time to learnabout Socrates, Sparta, the Peloponnesian War which I still know almost nothing about , the Persian Empire, and the economics of ancient Athens It s the reason I m now re reading Homer and Aristophanes and, yes, enjoying a fresh, lively new perspective on them.And when I ve doneresearch on these topics, I look forward to re reading Wine and getting a new perspective on that, too. Splendid Full of wisdom and grace The ending was worth the whole book I loved Phaedo the most Awwww man, this hit me right in my classic Greek feels A tender, thoughtful portrait of male male love and life in ancient Athens during the Peloponnesian war Amazing that a novel depicting such an openly bisexual lifestyle was published in 1956 but I guess the history label will allow for a lot, even then. Renault once again does a stellar job bringing Classical Greece to life with the story of Alexias, scion of a minor patrician family in Athens during the era when the city felt turmoil both from within and from without as they experienced not only the aggression of Sparta during Peloponnesian War, but also the existence of philosopher and iconoclast Sokrates At its core this is a tale about love, primarily the love of Alexias for his best friend and lover Lysis though it is also about the different kind of love Alexias has for his step mother, one of the greatest nurturing elements of his life the muchcomplicated love he has for his father, a hard man of unbending principle and finally the love he has for the truth as learned from the peripatetic sage and gadfly buzzing in the faces of Athens elite, Sokrates The story is pretty straightforward and documents Alexias growth from a child who was nearly left to die of exposure after birth to a young man of some fame, noted for both his beauty and integrity He experiences the hardship and rigors of war along with its occasions for camaraderie and glory , feels the exultation of competing in the great athletic events of the day, and learns to question the s blindly passed onto him by the earlier generation in favour of aclear headed examination of truth not solely based on traditionally held assumptions.The novel is chock full of famous figures of the era Alkibiades the statesman, turncoat, warrior, and all around golden boy loved by both Perikles and Sokrates the afore mentioned Sokrates seen at the height of his malign influence on the youth of Athens Plato and Xenophon, two of Sokrates most famous pupils, not to mention many others perhaps only famous through their inclusion in Platonic dialogues The use of famous historical figures can be a bit of a pitfall for authors of historical fiction as they have to either start inventing them out of whole cloth, or pick and choose which version of the individual to present I think Renault had a much better time of it in this book than she perhaps did in the Alexander books there I think she may have been a bit starry eyed and created an Alexander who, while eminently interesting, could pretty much do no wrong She obviously has a deep affection for Sokrates and his circle, but I felt she managed to avoid some of the pitfalls of hero worship that she fell into with Alexander.Renault tackles many issues in this story the many modes and types of love the place of tradition vs investigation of the new the benefits and pitfalls of both the rule of the many and the rule of the few the struggle between personal desire and communal responsibility, all expressed through the actions and decisions of Alexias as he grows from a boy into a man Alexias is an interesting figure someone from a noble patrician family who is still committed to the best of the democratic ideals, a follower of Sokrates who still values many of the Athenian traditions his mentor questions He is a man who comes to realize what it is he fights for when he fights for his city, whether his enemies be the Spartans, their Vichy like patrician puppets, or even the democratic demagogues that finally win power and I think his vision provides an adroit epigraph for the book Must we forsake the love of excellence, then, till every citizen feels it alike I did not fight, Anytos, to be crowned where I have not run but for a City where I can know who my equals really are, and my betters, to do them honour where a man s daily life is his own business and where no one will force a lie on me because it is expedient, or some other man s will.I love visiting ancient Greece with Renault and am sad to see that only two books remain to me in her oeuvre as new experiences Ah well, that is what re reading is for, right `READ DOWNLOAD ↬ The Last of the Wine ⇯ In The Last Of The Wine, Two Young Athenians, Alexias And Lysis, Compete In The Palaestra, Journey To The Olympic Games, Fight In The Wars Against Sparta, And Study Under Socrates As Their Relationship Develops, Renault Expertly Conveys Greek Culture, Showing The Impact Of This Supreme Philosopher Whose Influence Spans Epochs