The Athenian Murders by Jose Carlos Somoza novel
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  • However, he also believes in something beyond the matter
  • If we put all our hope in the products of reason we are running the risk of spending life without living

    • by mano5chi

      all reviews
      Jose Carlos Somoza proposes the reader a trip to ancient Greece in his novel “The Athenian Murders”. This trip could remind us that one Umberto Eco offered with “The Name of the Rose”. The body of a young man who studied in Plato’s Academy is found on the streets of Athens. Diagoras, one of the tutors of the ephebe asks Heracles Pontor, the Decipherer of Enigmas, for help.

      Heracles agrees to investigate the crime, naturally. This detective starting point is an excuse to make a deep analysis about the definition of the human being Aristotle gave: man is a rational animal. The characters in the novel break down into two groups: those who have faith in reason and those who believe in the emotional part of human being.

      But, as happens today with religion, faith can

      take quite different forms even though it is being experienced in relation to the same object. Thus, Diagoras and the other platonic philosophers have blind faith in reason (eternal and immutable as Aristotle wrote). This group of intellectuals, isolated from the decadent post-war society which they live in, longs to find the final reason of existence.

      They long to find, just like many of us, something pure and immutable beyond the oppressive and often bloody worldliness. For their part, the villains of the story seem to succumb plainly to the disenchantment that the, a priori, intellectual and democratic Athens has crammed into their hearts. They refuse that reason has any power because man, in a biological sense, has spent much more time being an animal than being rational.

      So what is truly distinctive of human being ...

      • are primitive emotions he feels. Reason has played the nasty role of a funeral employee that works on a body to give it a dignified appearance. There aren’t final causes, transcendent meanings or virtuous paths for existence.

        Let´s enjoy the pleasure that produce releasing our instincts since it’s the only nice thing we’ll get in life. Heracles Pontor (a quite obvious transliteration of Hercule Poirot, the detective Agatha Christie created), the main character of the novel, could be placed in a warm intermediate point. He shares the faith in reason with platonic philosophers, but while they believe in the effectiveness of an empty reason, a reason independent of the material world, Heracles chooses to fuel his reason with the City.

        However, he also believes in something beyond the matter: truth. He watches the world, memorizes traces,

        deduces, reasons and finds out a hidden reality. Hidden but written with the language of clues in the paper of material world.

        What Heracles doesn’t reach to suspect is that his faith is as vain as the platonic philosopher’s beliefs because, after all, that set of clues, that literary world Mr. Somoza offers us is as fictitious as Platonic Forms. The moral can’t be clearer: Let´s give to the ideas that rule our thoughts the importance they deserve.

        If we put all our hope in the products of reason we are running the risk of spending life without living. Maybe the most right lesson is that one we learn early in schooling: animals are born, grow, reproduce and die. Let´s concentrate on taking this trip with good mood and better company because, regardless of grandiloquent ideas, what is nice will always be nice.

    • Don't Be Nice. Be Helpful.

    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in July, 2009. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 173007782400931/k2311a0730/7.30.09
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