The Pericles Commission by Gary Corby is the first of the Athenian Mysteries. Nicolaos, a twenty year old who just finished his military duty, ephebe training, has a dead man with an arrow in him fall from the sky dead at his feet. The man is Ephialtes the father of democracy in Athens. Ephialtes is Pericles’ hero and Pericles hires Nicolaos as his agent to find out who murdered Ephialtes.
Life in Athens is interwoven into the story. We learn much about the Agora, the marketplace, while Nicolaos seeks information and Colby provides us with information about what life was like in ancient Athens. Colby adds fun with Nicolaos having a younger brother, Socrates who thinks too much. Nicolaos wants to be a politician and not a sculptor like his father.
What makes this book so much fun is how much we learn about ancient Athens and the way it was back then. A delightful way to learn history and the politics of this new thing called democracy, the rule by the people.
“There is what a man says to a mob to avert a riot, and there is what a man does for the good of Athens.” Says Pericles.
“And what, then, if the murder was done by Xanthippus (Pericles’ father)?” Says Nicolaos.
“Him I would prosecute.”
“Because your father is a conservative, and Archestratus is a democrat?”
“That’s right. Welcome to politics, my new advisor.”
I had thought Pericles a good man, and now I realized he was a politician like the rest of them. I was deeply disappointed.
This is one of the most interesting and fascinating series of historical fiction. Colby is providing an in depth look at ancient Athens in 450BC with all the main characters of the time and the key addition of Nicolaos to be our guide and narrator.
“Ah yes, Pericles’ little attack dog. I’ve heard of you.”
“That was not the most flattering description of me I’ve ever heard! I marveled at the different views of me going about. First the influential young politician from Telemenes, now the dog from Lysanias. And still I thought of myself as a mere investigator looking for a chance to show what I could do. As the philosophers say, no man can ever truly know another.”
We are learning all the ways and mores of the time and seeing the intricacies of how life was back then as well as being shown the birth of democracy. We are learning about the homes in Athens, the shops, the inns, the law, and the families of everyday Athenians. An interesting and fun character is Socrates, Nico’s little brother, who thinks too much and is warned it will be his downfall and yet he is key in Nico’s thinking his way through the case. This is so much fun, I can’t wait to continue in the series and watch where Nicolaos and Diotima’s flirting goes from here.
The Author’s Note is the denouement and proper way to end this fabulous historical tale, based on fact with a twist of fiction for our enjoyment and entertainment. Corby has used actual facts and details to serve as the foundation for this novel. He has taken a few items from the future of ancient Greece to help him with much delight to the Athenian crowds and for us. This is the ay to learn ancient history.