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The King Must Die

Mary Renault

Study Questions and Essay Topics

Key Facts

Quiz

Study Questions

Theseus feels sorry for the Cretan nobles and thinks that they are "finished, played out" (258). What are the similarities between Cretan society and life today?

The Cretans have become bored with life. They are bored because life has become too easy for them. Many people face similar difficulties today. People whose physical well-being and material wealth is assured often find meaning in life through their jobs or through their possessions. When there is no need to worry about the necessities of life it is perhaps inevitable that people will focus on passing pleasures and objects. But this changing focus does not necessarily mean that people are bored with life. An appreciation of material goods also may not present the same danger that it did in Theseus's time because everyone is not in constant danger of being attacked. The dangers of easy living are not necessarily literal dangers now as they were in Theseus' time but rather existential ones. Perhaps we run the risk of living empty lives because we have forgotten how to live.

What is the role of love in The King Must Die?

Love does not have to be between a man and a woman or even between just two people but rather can be a bond formed by experience and caring between any number of people. Asterion's love of power shows that love can lead to twisted and evil outcomes. Minos's love for Ariadne is almost the opposite of Aigeus' love, for Minos acts like a King once again because of his love for his daughter. There is also the love that Theseus, as a narrator, expresses for his dead Amazonian wife; his true love ends in tragedy.

Suggested Essay Topics

Compare and contrast Aigeus and Theseus.

Select two of the different kingdoms described in the novel and compare them.

Compare the older Theseus who narrates the story with the young Theseus in the story.

What is Ariadne's role in the story?

The idea of honor is very important in the book. What, if anything, does honor mean today?

Was life in ancient Greece, as portrayed in this novel, better or worse than it is today?

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