Summary: Mary Renault’s The Last of the Wine follows Alexias, son of Myron, through his many endeavors including war, love, and truth, and his search for ultimate goodness.
Reading register: In past readings, reproduction (in giving birth, and other in sharing ideas and wisdom) is a way that humans come closest to immortality, or divinity. Divinity is seen as the ultimate good, truth, and love. through Renault’s story about Alexias, she shows that he is always searching for this ultimate divinity.
As a child, Alexias’ father, Myron, teaches him to not love a woman yet, for he is to0 young, but in loving a man to look for courage, wisdom, and truth. Myron exposes Alexias of this knowledge as an extension of himself, to reach complete divinity. This knowledge is something that Alexias can’t wrap his head around quite yet, as he has not felt that he has found a lover yet.
After Alexias won a race, his status of the men of Athens rose, and he became someone that most men looked up to. He knew that this was a great feet, but there was something more.
“The truth was I was getting to an age that one wishes for love, and has one’s own ideas of what it ought to be; and I was ceasing to believe that what I sought what anywhere to be found.” (74)
Advice and ideas were spread amongst men, for each individual cast their knowledge on youth in order to carry on their name, and become close to immortality. In taking Sokrates’ advice, Alexias took the price of an honourable lover, and was honourable to himself in choosing Lysis as a lover. (75)
Alexias speaks to Lysis “…that while you are my friend I shall ever come to dishonour; for rather than be a shame to you I will die.” (83)
As Alexias gives Lysis his honourable love (or reproduction of wisdom), he is in seek of the ultimate truth, goodness, and ultimately divinity.
As Alexias and Lysis grow together and seek for each other’s wisdom, true love arises. “As a true lover seeks knowledge of the beloved, to learn entirely what he is and what he needs.” (89)
Throughout their whole relationship, Alexias and Lysis grow, learning more of each other as they face war together, “Lysis would leave visiting my post till late, and stay with me talking quietly before he slept.” (116)
After Lysis’ death, Alexias still remains faithful to him, in marrying his widowed wife, Drosis. It is said that the wives of a man’s lover would most likely also be very compatible with them as well (as was true in this story). Alexias, still on his path to love, truth, and goodness, continues to reproduce his love and wisdom that he shared with Lysis with his widowed wife, and also with his new born child.
After the reproduction of wisdom and knowledge was no longer able to happen after Lysis’ death, Alexias had to continue on his path to goodness by reproducing a child with Drosis, in hopes to become closer to immortality.
At the end of the story, once we are left with Alexias’ eternal search for wisdom, there is a short passage explaining that this story was found, and bound by Alexias, son of Myron, son of Alexias. Alexias the boy is a decendent of Alexias (lover of Lysis), and therefore is another son that has been reproduced to keep the family name and the continual progression to immortality for Alexias (lover of Lysis).
This story was a reproduction from another person’s point of view, and the search for goodness, truth, and divinity still lives on in the name of Alexias.