Friday, 22 November 2013

Familiarise Friday meets Aristomenes

Hello and welcome to Familiarise Friday. 
Today, my guest has come from a long time ago to share some things with us. I met Aristomenes a few weeks ago when I read the story that he features in.  
Zeus Of Ithome, by T.E.Taylor, is a novel I loved reading. It's a story full of Ancient Greek mythology, history, geography - a tale of a young man called Diocles who matures very quickly into a leaader of his people. Aristomenes played quite a part in that.

Let's see how Aristomenes manages to answer my usual set of Familiarise Friday questions...

Hello and welcome to my Familiarise Friday slot, Aristomenes. Some of these questions might appear a little strange to you, but see what you can do for my readers, please.

Describe yourself using only 6 words.

Messenian rebel, getting on a bit. 

A rebel? I think we need to learn more about that! Can you describe where you are currently living?
In the cellar of a ruined house on Mount Ithome in Messenia. Eight foot by twelve.  No running water, furniture or windows.  Heated by an open fire.  The occasional rat for company.  

That doesn't sound very pleasant, and not particularly comfortable. Have you been there all of your life?
No, I have been all over the place.  I was born in the town of Naupactus, in Locris on the north shore of the Gulf of Corinth. My family and other Messenians were settled there by the Athenians after an unsuccessful revolt in my grandfather’s time.  Since the Spartans threw us out of Naupactus after their war with Athens, I have been wandering all over Greece - and beyond, to Italy and Sicily.  But I suppose this is where I feel most at home.  Ithome is the historic sanctuary of the Messenians, and our patron God, Zeus Ithomatas, dwells here still, even if his temple is in ruins.

What’s your main occupation just now?
I suppose I’d call myself a vagabond, though I am not a beggar.  I support myself by hunting hares and other small animals with a sling and gathering fungi and berries.  And occasionally I impose on the generosity of friends, when I’m on my travels.

Does your lifestyle make you happy?
Happy?  That’s not a word I use much.  I suppose I’ve got used to this life.  By now, I probably wouldn’t be comfortable living in a fine house in a town, though I sometimes think it would be nice to give it a try.

As a young man did you think you’d end up in this situation? If not, how did you view your future?
Did I think I would be doing this forty years later?  Absolutely not.  I thought that I would be fighting to liberate Messenia from Spartan domination, and later helping to build a new Messenian state.  The sad fact is that, throughout all these decades, that has always been what I wanted to do, and still is, though there is little to show for it.

What’s your favourite reading material?
You don’t get to read much in this kind of life.  On those rare occasions when I do get the chance, I like to read about history, especially the history of my own people, the Messenians. It makes me angry when I read about how the Spartans seized our country for themselves and turned us into helot slaves, but it keeps the fire burning in my belly. 

If your life was in a bit of a rut, what would you do first to change it?
“If?” I have been in a rut for decades!  If I had known what I could do that would change it, I would have done it by now.  There have been signs from the gods that things really are about to change, that it will soon be time for Messenia to seize its freedom.  If only I knew where to begin.  I have recently acquired a companion - Diocles, a runaway helot.  He has a lot to learn, but perhaps he was sent to me by the gods to stir me out of my inactivity.  

Who, or what, is the love of your life?
The only woman I ever loved was Eirene, the daughter of a local Locrian family in Naupactus.  We were engaged to be married, then forced to separate when I was expelled from Naupactus with the rest of the Messenian community.  I never really got over it, nor did she, I suspect – she died not long afterwards.   

What is your favourite way to travel?
I have been in ships a few times.  I don’t get seasick, so it is a lot more pleasant than tramping around Greece on foot. 

What is your biggest goal in the coming months?
The same as it has always been – to instigate revolt in Messenia and free the country from the Spartans.  But more immediately, to obtain guidance from the Oracle of Delphi on when and how I should do this.  

Quick answer section. Which do you like best?
Meat or fruit?   Meat.
City or countryside?  Countryside.
Reading or walking?  Reading?  Are you having a laugh?  I get to do a lot of walking, though I don’t do it for fun.
Travel or stay at home? Travel.  If I stayed in this place for too long, I’d go mad.  Probably mad already, some people would say.

It's been wonderful talking to you today, Aristomenes. I hope your scribe, Tim Taylor, has had lots of people reading the story of your time with Diocles. Thank you so much for coming all this way to Scotland to meet me. You are such a nice man (Most of the time that is, though you do have a few questionable moments in the book).

Tim Taylor was born in 1960 in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent - home of Josiah Wedgwood, Robbie Williams, Phil 'The Power' Taylor (no relation) and Lemmy.  He grew up just outside the city in Brown Edge, then at the age of 11 moved to Longsdon, near Leek.
         Tim went to Newcastle-under-Lyme High School, then studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford. After graduating he moved to London and spent a couple of years playing guitar in a rock band. When it became clear that he was never going to be a rock star, he sadly knuckled down and joined the Civil Service, where he did a wide range of jobs, including Chief Executive of the Veterans Agency.
         Tim married Rosa Vella in 1994 and their daughter Helen was born in 1997. In 2001 they moved to Meltham, near Huddersfield, to be nearer family, and have lived there ever since.
         While still in the Civil Service Tim wrote two unpublished novels and studied part time for a PhD in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, finally achieving it in 2007.  A period of illness in 2007 caused him to re-evaluate his priorities.  He took a career break in 2009 in order to spend more time writing, and subsequently left the Civil Service altogether in 2011.
         Tim now divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.
         As well as fiction, Tim writes poetry, which he often performs on local radio and at open mic nights (where he also plays the guitar).  He is involved with several local writing groups. He also likes walking up hills.
Find Tim at: 
See Tim's Website/blog at:

Three Hundred Years of Slavery. Greece, 373 BC. For three centuries, the Messenian people have been brutally subjugated by their Spartan neighbours and forced to work the land as helot slaves. Diocles, a seventeen-year-old helot, has known no other life but servitude.
After an encounter with Spartan assassins, he is forced to flee, leaving behind his family and his love, Elpis. On Mount Ithome, the ancient sanctuary of the Messenians, he meets Aristomenes, an old rebel who still remembers the proud history of their people and clings to a prophecy that they will one day win back their freedom. A forlorn hope, perhaps.

But elsewhere in Greece, there are others too who believe it is time that the power of Sparta was broken. 

Thank you for visiting today, Tim, and for bringing Aristomenes. Best wishes with sales of Zeus Of Ithome. 



  1. Fabulous interview It's good to hear from someone from another time!


Thank you for reading my blog. Please pop your thoughts about this post in the comment box. :-)