In The Odyssey, literature’s most famous tourist, Odysseus, escapes the Cyclops by claiming he is outis – no one. A clever ruse; and yet it also suggests that Odysseus must submerge the Iliadic, warrior part of his being and become another kind of hero, reliant upon his wit, before he can return home. In effect, this is the same task that Harry Mount sets himself in his new book, as, recovering from an emotionally draining break-up, he sets out to renew himself, a ‘dried-up husk of a person’.
This isn’t really a travel book. Rather, it’s a memoir-cum-classical history, with a few stops en route at places that are mentioned in Homer, and many at places that aren’t. It isn’t a single journey, either, as Mount trots backwards and forwards to Britain over the course of the years. This is more of a mental ‘odyssey’ – a way for