The Double Tongue
Author(s): William Golding
The Double Tongue is William Golding's last and perhaps most superbly imaginative novel. It is a fictional memoir of an aged prophetess at Delphi, the most sacred oracle of ancient Greece, just prior to Greece's domination by the Roman Empire. As a young girl, Arieka is ugly, unconventional, a source of great shame to her uppity parents, who fear they'll never marry her off. But she is saved by Ionides, the High Priest of the Delphic temple, who detects something of a seer (and a friend) in her and whisks her off to the shrine to become the Pythia - the earthly voice of the god Apollo. Arieka has now spent a lifetime at the mercy of a god, a priest, and her devotees, and has witnessed firsthand the decay of Delphi's fortunes and its influence in the world. Her reflections on the mysteries of the oracle, which her own weird gifts embody, are matched by her feminine insight into the human frailties of the High Priest himself, a true Athenian with a wicked sense of humor, whose intriguing against the Romans brings about humiliation and disaster. This extraordinary short novel, left in draft at the author's death in 1993, is a psychological and historical triumph. Golding has created a vivid and comic picture of ancient Greek society as well as an absolutely convincing portrait of a woman's experience, something rare in the Golding oeuvre. Arieka the Pythia is one of his finest creations.
Left in draft at the author's death in 1993, this extraordinary short novel is a psychological and historical triumph. An aged prophetess at Delphi, the most sacred oracle in ancient Greece, looks back over her strange life as the Pythia, the voice of the god Apollo. Golding was the author of Lord of the Flies, and a Nobel Laureate.