"The Mask of Apollo" revolves around the adventures of Nikeratos, a young actor who travels the countryside of ancient Greece and Sicily while performing in various plays. In one play, Kadmos by Sophokles the Younger, Nikeratos is required to wear an old mask of Apollo as part of his costume. The mask is fifty years old and is rumored to bring good luck. Nikeratos is impressed with the mask and comes to believe that it possesses special powers. He begins to make reverent gestures toward it as when he places a bay-sprig above it and sprinkles drops of wine on the floor in front of it.
During one performance of the play a battle breaks out with a neighboring town. As the actors continue performing, Nikeratos touches the mask for luck and promises to make an offering to Apollo if the god helps him get through the scene. The superstitious townspeople spotting Nikeratos in the mask begin calling on Apollo to help them win the battle. In the end they are successful in their fight. From this point forward Nikeratos carries the mask with him and defers to it when he needs guidance.
Accounts of Greek history are dispersed throughout the book with the politics of the ancient Greek world of Syracuse playing a major role in the story. Nikeratos attempts to ignore politics as he sees himself as an actor who is separate from the government scene. Through his travels in various plays however, he finds himself being pulled into the civil turmoil by his relationships with the powerful people of the age including Plato and Dionysios.
Dion of Syracuse, a rich and powerful man, befriends Nikeratos and uses him to carry messages between himself and Plato after the ruler Dionysios the Elder dies. This places Nikeratos in the middle of the political turbulence involving Dionysios the Younger and the rule of Syracuse. Faction fights begin which result in Dionysios exiling Dion. Plato is moved into a house in Palace Park where Dionysios can keep a watchful...
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