At the Palaces of Knossos

By Nikos Kazantzakis
Translation by Theodora Vasils and Themi Vasils

“As in Kazantzakis’s other work, there is a strong sense of dual heritage, particularly in the emphasis on the web of national and cultural conflicts and connections between then-mighty Crete and its vassal state Greece. He paints a dreamlike tapestry of the Cretan magnificence, power, and cruelty against which Athenian prince Theseus, with aid from Cretan princess Ariadne, must fight for freedom.”

Publishers Weekly

At the Palace of Knossos, a vivid retelling of the legend of Theseus and the destruction of the Minoan empire, is one of the lesser works of Kazantzakis…Yet it is a testament to Kazantzakis’ powers that a work written casually for a young audience can make compelling reading for people of any age…No modern writer is as gifted as Kazantzakis in creating characters who are bigger than life yet very human, and everyone in this story manages to draw some sympathy from the reader, even the Minotaur…Whether young or old, those who read this book will not be disappointed.”

Nicholas Gage, Los Angeles Times

Blending historical fact and classical myth, the author of Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ transports the reader 3,000 years into the past, to a pivotal point in history: the final days before the ancient kingdom of Minoan Crete is to be conquered and supplanted by the emerging city-state of Athens. Translated by Theodora Vasils and Themi Vasils.

The familiar figures who peopled that ancient world--King Minos, Theseus and Ariadne, the Minotaur, Diadalos and Ikaros--fill the pages of this novel with lifelike immediacy.

Written originally for an Athenian youth periodical, At the Palaces of Knossos functions on several levels. Fundamentally, it is a gripping and vivid adventure story, recounted by one of this century's greatest storytellers, and peopled with freshly interpreted figures of classical Greek mythology. We see a new vision of the Minotaur, portrayed here as a bloated and sickly green monster, as much to be pitied as dreaded. And we see a grief-stricken and embittered Diadalos stomping on the homemade wax wings that have caused the drowning of his son, Ikaros.

On another level, At the Palaces of Knossos is an allegory of history, showing the supplanting of a primitive culture by a more modern civilization. Shifting the setting back and forth from Crete to Athens, Kazantzakis contrasts the languid, decaying life of the court of King Minos with the youth and vigor of the newly emerging Athens.

Protected by bronze swords, by ancient magic and ritual, and by ferocious-but-no-longer-invincible monsters, the kingdom of Crete represents the world that must perish if classical Greek civilization is to emerge into its golden age of reason and science. In the cataclysmic final scene in which the Minotaur is killed and King Minos's sumptuous palace burned, Kazantzakis dramatizes the death of the Bronze Age, with its monsters and totems, and the birth of the Age of Iron.


Nikos Kazantzakis, author of poems, novels, essays, plays, and travel books, was arguably the most important and most translated Greek writer and philosopher of the 20th century. [more]”
from Nikos Kazantzakis’s biography on Wikipedia

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Related Subjects

Literary Studies · Fiction · European Literature · Historical Fiction

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Paperback

978-0-8214-0880-3
Retail price: $18.95, S.
Release date: Apr. 1988
219 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World