Yay! The start of my Greek readings! For those of you that don’t know, I am going on a retreat in Corfu in May and I thought now would be a fantastic time to read my Greek mythology books.
Now this is a short book, only 57 pages so needless to say this took me less than an hour to read. A short review for a short book.
Now for those of you that don’t know, I am a history nerd and one of my great loves is mythology. The tale of Galatea and Pygmalion is one such tale but a haunting tale at that.
Pygmalion was a talented Greek sculptor on the island of Cyprus. After becoming so disgusted by the local prostitutes, he avoided their company and lived in solitude. Pygmalion saw women as tainted and flawed and vowed never to waste a moment on them.
So he dedicated his life to his work and soon sculpted a beautiful woman, sculpted entirely out of ivory. Whilst this may seem ironic to many of you – a man who hates women sculpts a woman? But it would make sense. Pygmalion saw women as flaws and saw to correct those flaws in the only way he knew, by sculpting. He created the perfect woman with no flaws like those with flesh and blood, her name, Galatea.
“You make the rarest canvas, love.”
Pygmalion worked day and night on Galatea and soon fell in love with her. He would talk to her, kiss her, caress her and bring gifts to her every day. He would dress her in the finest clothing and the finest jewellery he could find.
Now, high on top of Mount Olympus live the Greek gods and goddesses, one of which is Aphrodite, the goddess of love. When Pygmalion went to her temple and with a sacrifice and a plea to make Galatea come to life and love him, she took pity on him. He returned home and went straight to Galatea but this time she felt warm to touch and her lips soft. Aphrodite had given Galatea the gift of life.
Soon Pygmalion and Aphrodite were married with Aphrodite’s blessing and she bore a son, Paphos who would later found one of Aphrodite’s sacred cities, Paphos in Cyprus.
“He had no chance, really. He was only flesh.”
Now this is where the myth ends and the book Galatea begins.
This book carries on a little later down the line than where the myth ends. Pygmalion is controlling and expects Galatea to be obedience personified and please him at every turn. But Galatea has her own dreams and yearns for her own life, her own independence.
“But I say this so that you understand what I was up against: that I was work more to her sick than I was well.”
In order to keep an eye on her, Pygmalion puts her under lock and key in a room with nurses and doctors to keep an eye on her. But Galatea now has a daughter and she doesn’t want her to be treated as she is now. Somehow Galatea must break free and rescue her daughter, no matter the cost.
Madeline Miller has once again worked her magic! I adored The Song of Achilles, a dramatic retelling of the Iliad and she has worked wonders here! She has turned what seems a love story into a retelling that packs an almighty punch and tells it from Galatea’s perspective, who normally is reserved as a silent party in this myth; here she has a voice and a story to tell.
This book also tackles the topic of domestic violence. No not the physical violence, but the mental and emotional part. It shows ends in which women even in the real world will take to protect themselves if they are strong enough. I admire each and every one you. You are incredible and strong and deserve to be loved. I should know, for I was one of them.
“The ocean floor was sandy and soft as pillows. I settled into it and slept.”
You will find another Madeline Miller book in my upcoming reads, Circe.
Until then, you can find this on Amazon
Until next time,