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THE TELLER OFTEN TELLS THE TALE HE WANTS TO HEAR… "Why, given its sad ending, did my not-quite-ancestor choose this particular story? I wonder whether he had noticed the same tendency as I have: how young men – specifically pairs of young men – from Greek myth go missing in modern accounts. There was a time when every hero was provided with a boyfriend as a matter of course, as all these respectable Englishmen with their classical educations knew full well. And yes, they usually died, for pathos was an integral part of this cult of the beautiful youth. And ‘cult’ is not too strong a word: there was a Roman emperor who turned his lost boy into a god, and you can go see his face in any half-decent museum of antiquities." Hippasus is one of the lost boys of Greek myth, unknown even to most classicists. Inspired by the fortuitous discovery of an earlier attempt at reconstruction, the narrator embarks on a new examination of the evidence in the hope of rescuing from obscurity an appealing story of broken vows, mistaken identity, confusing oracles, young love— and a dragon.

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