Interview on Odyssey: The World of Greece
Posted on: 06-03-2011 | Category: Articles & Interviews

Sofka Zinovieff is the author of Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens and Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life. Her forthcoming novel, The House on Paradise Street, is set in Greece and will be published in the U.K. and Greece, early in 2012.

Where do you consider home?
Some say home is where you hang your hat, others that it’s where you hang yourself. For me, it has been many places, but for the last ten years, a rented apartment overlooking the sea in Vouliagmeni, south of Athens.

What would cause you to stay away from home for 10 years?
To be with the ones I love.

How do you define fidelity?
Staying true.

Which idea are you most faithful to?
Staying close to my daughters and husband while keeping a sense of freedom and independence.

Which modern figure, male or female, would you identify with Penelope?
Aung San Suu Kyi, for her patience and faith.

If you were casting The Odyssey today, which real-life or literary figure would you choose for the role of Antinous?
Arnold Schwarzenegger would make a good revolting suitor.

Is beauty like Calypso’s a trap?
Of course, and for the beauty herself as well as the beholder.

What’s a modern-day equivalent of Circe’s mesmerizing powers?
Air-brushed celebrities and stars.

‘Arete’ is Greek for virtue. Which do you value most? Which is overrated?

Odysseus is both cunning and strong. Which trait would you choose?

What’s your biggest temptation?
Pottering about in my garden instead of sitting at my computer.

What disguise would you adopt if you wished to pass unnoticed?
A false moustache, a fedora, and a man’s suit would be fun.

If eating a Lotus could make you forget just one thing, what would you want to forget?
I already forgot.

Greed prompts Odysseus’ men to unleash the strong winds that blow their ship off course. If Homer were writing today, what would these winds be a metaphor for?
The distractions of consumerism.

Who are the Laestrygonians today?
Big bankers.

What were the Sirens singing?
Songs of ecstasy that drive you mad.

Which would you try to avoid, Scylla or Charybdis?
I’d rather get sucked to the bottom of the sea than be eaten alive, but I’d put my bet on avoiding Charybdis and cheating Scylla, as Odysseus did.

What’s The Odyssey’s lesson for today?
That the same old things apply today just as they did then–love, war, adventure, temptation and fidelity, with the domestic details of daily life running inextricably alongside them.

What is your Ithaca?
It tends to be whichever book I’m working on, though each winter it becomes the island of Patmos, where I go in the summer.

Which do you think is most important, the journey or the destination?
The journey is given its significance by the destination, but of course, Cavafy and Homer were right to suggest that you have a good and above all, interesting time along the way.