With the publication of The Silver-Handled Knife, the last in my Girls of Troy series, it’s time for me to say goodbye to Mycenae and the world of bronze-age Greece. The story I tell finishes as Orestes and Hermione, now his wife, take the throne of Mycenae, , along with Tisamenos their son. In my story, Tisamenos is adopted; Hermione can’t have children, and Orestes is anxious that there should be no child of his blood to continue the cycle of revenge that has darkened the story of the house of Atreus. This is purely my interpolation, though it makes sense in the story.Actually, in the legend, Tisamenos is the last ruler of the house of Atreus, being deposed by the ‘sons of Hercules’ – and indeed it seems that th epalace at Mycenae and all the bronze age palaces in Greece were destroyed at the same time, around 1200 BC. Sea Peoples or Dorians have traditionally been regarded as the destroyers, though historians really don’t know what happened and there’s almost no evidence. The famous Lion Gates at Mycenae were apparently built very late, not long before the destruction of the city, which suggests that the Mycenaeans were very conscious of defence.
At any rate, the Mycenaean civilisation was followed by a long dark age, about which we know very little. When the lights come on again, in around 850 BC, Homer is composing his famous epics, and we’re in the early classical times. Writing is re-invented, Homer’s poems are eventually written down, and the stories of the gods and goddesses are as we know them centuries later. This is the Greece that’s familiar to us.
My stories, which include occasional visits from the gods, are historical fantasies rather than accurate depictions of the past. And I mix my sources – some elements come from the Greece that Homer knew, and some from the few things we know about the Mycenaeans. But I hope they feel right to the reader. At any rate I’ll be sorry to leave ancient Greece, where I’ve spent many happy months. And where do I go next? Who knows? As they say, it’s in the lap of the gods.