The action of the novel encompasses Agathon’s imprisonment for his presumed involvement in the rebellion of the Helots against the Spartan tyrant Lykourgos, his escape at the hands of the Helot rebels, and his subsequent death from plague in the Helot headquarters, a commandeered tomb turned infirmary. An epilogue to the life and action of the novel is provided when Peeker is sent by the Helots to Athens to give Tuka the scrolls that both he and Agathon produced during their imprisonment, the scrolls that comprise the content of the novel.
The form of the novel is autobiographical. Chapters from the feverish mind of Agathon are interlaced with chapters detailing the apprentice observations of the seer-in-progress, Peeker. These interlaced chapters treat the historical context for both men’s lives as well as observations on the present action. Through the minds of these imprisoned scribes, the reader comes to know the life and loves of Agathon and the impact of the culminating wreckage of that experience on Peeker.
While Agathon is the focus of the novel and its dominant spokesman, it is Peeker who is its heart. The novel is a Bildungsroman, a novel chronicling the coming of age of Peeker. Moving from youthful embarrassment at the nonconformist whom he is destined to follow through dutiful response to one in such obvious need, Peeker grows in the nature of compassion and reaches maturity in recognition that genius always has its...
(The entire section is 414 words.)