Book Review: A Honeycomb of Aphrodite

Ovid’s keynotes I suggest are three, Nature, the Goddess (and her values) and Pathos. Nature, primarily as beauty and refuge, the place of resolution: the Goddess as love and compassion, magic and feminine power: and the pathos of fate which is suffered and endured.

A Honeycomb for Aphrodite is a reasonable, easy-to-understand, companion book to Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It doesn’t claim to be an introduction to the subject matter, but it gives a decent idea of what to expect when reading Metamorphoses, either as Klein’s own prose translation of Ovid’s poem, or as any other translation.

(If you wish to indulge in a beautiful poetic translation, after much internet traipsing, I’ve concluded that this translation by Allen Mandelbaum is poetically the most satisfactory.)

A compressed description of Kline’s style in A Honeycomb is: adjectival, alliterative, antithetical, and alternating skilfully between applications of polysyndeton and asyndeton. In other words, he wastes little time on philosophising; instead, he uses details and descriptions from the Metamorphoses to illustrate his point. The words flow like honey.

Daedalus made for the Goddess … a symbol of the hive of art, with its waxen cells, artificial and elaborate, made by the living industry of the bees, and filled with flower pollen, to create the honeyed liquids of the goddess of love, her dripping comb.

A fun read.


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