The Mask of Apollo by Mary Renault
Might contain spoilers.
This is a superb novel. It’s fantastically well-researched and well-written. I didn’t realize it was based mostly on real historical figures—it simply comes across as an engaging story. Following the fictional character of Nikeratos, who can cross paths with real people when required but isn’t bound by history, was a very smart choice. The brief appearance of Alexander of Macedonia at the end is a spectacular way to elevate an already wonderful story.
The book explains the erstwhile conventions of theatre, like the masks themselves, deftly and well, all while painting a vivid picture of the period. It strikes me as a raw and uncertain life, one going from victorious revelry one moment to having the city sacked and its people brutalized the next.
I had trouble keeping track of the timeline, especially in the end, when Dion is suddenly 60. It took some backtracking to understand how much time had elapsed since we last saw him.