Ancient Greek men at a symposium (being entertained by a female musician) (painted mixing bowl, c. 420 BC)
It took me two whole years, which is at least a year and a half too long.
Ever since I decided my next writing project would be my first (incomplete, shelved) novel – a fantasy – rewritten as historical fiction and set in Ancient Greece, I knew I had to seriously beef up my knowledge of that period in history.
In many ways, this would be me starting from ground zero in my research.
Books I’ve stolen borrowed from others (and haven’t even read yet)
I almost never lend people books. But I have no problem borrowing those that belong to others.
I fully acknowledge the hypocrisy, and perhaps even level of selfishness, that applies to this policy of mine.
I’m not even a particularly good borrower of other people’s books. Or rather, good returner of them, I should say.
During my undergraduate degree in environmental studies, a particular course in the history department caught my eye.
This course was called History of Africa South of the Sahara.
I first I discovered this course during my first year while thumbing through the course catalogue planning for my upper years.
Ooh, this would be an interesting elective, I thought upon reading the course description:
A reporter determined to get the scoop on Xena
In time, all good things come to an end.
In a way, I could have said this at the end of the season 5 of Xena Warrior Princess, which itself wasn’t as strong as seasons past, in my opinion.
By season 6, much of what previously made the show great – Xena and Gabrielle wandering Greece and interacting with various gods and mythological figures – fell by the wayside.
I take great joy in planning my summers every year.
Even if I’m not expecting to do anything noteworthy or conventionally exciting, the thought of longer, warmer days and a bit of time off to do as I will to fill them is invaluable in helping me make it through the winter.
Admittedly, winter in Vancouver is mildest that Canada has to offer. I really have nothing to complain about by comparison.
Xena receives some unexpected news
In the second last season of Xena Warrior Princess, we have come to the climax of the overall arc of the story.
Up to this point, Xena has gone from being a former bloodthirsty warrior, newly repentant and wracked with self-loathing, to a devoted friend and fighter for good and justice, to a self-assured paladin following the righteous spiritual path known as the Way of the Warrior.
Meanwhile, Xena’s best friend and sidekick, Gabrielle, has gone from a plucky, idealistic peasant girl, to an unwitting Amazon princess and novice fighter, to an adherent of the nonviolent spiritual path known as the Way of Love, to an eventual apostate of that path in favour of becoming a warrior – no longer a sidekick – in her own right.
Xena and Gabrielle are following opposite spiritual paths
Season 4 of Xena Warrior Princess was one marked by both growth and death.
Part of that growth was external. By season 4, the show had gained widespread popularity and started tell stories that demonstrated this. The sets were more complex, the costumes more elaborate.
The Xenaverse itself expanded: moving beyond just Ancient Greece and the gods and heroes of Greek mythology, Xena and Gabrielle travel to an entirely different country and have encounters with the gods of a different culture.
Will the real Warrior Princess please step forward?
I originally started my replay of the seasons of Xena Warrior Princess to help me in re-conceiving an old, shelved novel of mine that I want to rewrite set in Ancient Greece.
Of course, I recognize that what will help me most in this endeavour is a thorough study of actual Ancient Greek history since Xena, although a rollicking good time to watch, is historical-ish at best – a work of historical fantasy that’s at times quite heavy on the fantasy, straining the linearity of the historical timeline to the limit.
(This season alone, Xena has dealings with legendary Celtic queen Boudicca, with Egyptian queen Cleopatra, in ancient China, and against the Persian army on their way to the Hot Gates at Thermopylae.)
Xena looking stern and steely-eyed after a bath.
It was with season 2 of Xena Warrior Princess, I now recall, that I fell in love with the show.
Thinking back on it, season 2 may well have been the first season I actually saw. My memory of it all is rather cloudy. While watching season 1, I remembered every episode, but for some reason don’t recall having viewed them on TV, at least not from the beginning.
In any case, I do remember that it was also season 2 that made me want to be an adventurer – to roam far and wide meeting people, solving problems, battling evil, and having fun.
One season down, five more to go!
My decision to re-watch all six seasons of the show Xena Warrior Princess – which is set in Ancient Greece – corresponded with my decision to someday rewrite my shelved first fantasy novel as historical fiction, also set in Ancient Greece.
That and because Xena is such a thrilling character – my favourite fictional character, in truth – whom I hadn’t watched since the show ended in 2001.