The Mask of Apollo Summary
Mary Renault

Everything you need to understand or teach The Mask of Apollo by Mary Renault.

  • The Mask of Apollo Summary & Study Guide
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The Mask of Apollo Summary

All of Renault's historical novels achieve what the ancient poet Horace saw as the double purpose of literature: to simultaneously delight and instruct.

As adventure stories they are filled with action; the characters travel widely and suspense keeps the plot moving. But her works are not simply novels of plot.

Their historical settings evoke an important age in the civilization of the Western world. Renault's fictional characters mingle with historical ones in settings of realistic detail. These characters face situations that present philosophical as well as physical problems. The Mask of Apollo, for example, explores the nature of virtue, the role of art in life, the balance between reason and emotion, and other themes that will be important as long as human nature remains the same. This novel, like Renault's other historical novels, shows how people today are both different from and similar to the people who lived...

(read more from the Short Guide)

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