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Author Topic: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?  (Read 1199 times)

AradiaRose

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Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« on: February 02, 2014, 04:40:19 pm »
I loved reading Greek myths as a child, and after a recent trip to the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, I've realized how much I'd like to brush up on my Greek mythology.

There are so many options out there, but I would love to order a (non-ebook) book or set of books. My ideal translation would not be geared towards children and would be popular enough to find on Amazon or eBay. If it had lovely illustrations, that would be a huge bonus, but I would prefer a quality translation over everything else.

Any recommendations of companion books to help provide background, criticism, or historical information on Greek myths would also be much appreciated.

Thanks so much in advance!
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Louisvillian

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Re: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2014, 02:22:45 am »
Quote from: AradiaRose;138641
I loved reading Greek myths as a child, and after a recent trip to the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, I've realized how much I'd like to brush up on my Greek mythology.

 
W.H.D Rouse's little book, Gods, Heroes, and Men of Ancient Greece is a great starter. It goes through most of the stories, synthesises them into roughly a single big narrative, and is pretty straight and concise with them. But it's also a fun, entertaining read. It's only flaw is that Rouse takes a kinda Christianizing tone, making references to the later coming of the Christian religion...though he places it in the context of the Greek mythical narrative, replacing the Greek gods who "die off" gradually. It's weird, but the guy wrote a century ago. Par for the course, really.

Barry Powell's Classical Myth is another good one; much more text-bookish, since it's usually used as a text book in Greek Mythology college courses, but it's also much more detailed and neutral.

They are good summaries. But it's always important to go to the primary source documents. Make a habit of reading the actual Greek myths, in whatever form they originally appeared. Whether it's Homeric epic poetry of Iliad and Odyssey, or the genealogical literature of Hesiod's Theology, or the plays of Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus.

DavidMcCann

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Re: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2014, 01:36:03 pm »
Quote from: AradiaRose;138641
Any recommendations of companion books to help provide background, criticism, or historical information on Greek myths would also be much appreciated.

Robert Graves's Greek Myths is very useful for reference — he translated an incredible amount of source material — but not really a "good read". And his notes and interpretations include some utter rubbish. (Hides under the table from irate Graves fans)
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2014, 03:19:50 pm »
Quote from: AradiaRose;138641
There are so many options out there, but I would love to order a (non-ebook) book or set of books. My ideal translation would not be geared towards children and would be popular enough to find on Amazon or eBay. If it had lovely illustrations, that would be a huge bonus, but I would prefer a quality translation over everything else.

 
I'd recommend The Meridian Handbook of Classical Mythology (you might also find it listed as Crowell's Handbook, and ISTR a third name as well - the varying names refer to different publishers, but it's the same book) by Edward Tripp.

It's in encyclopedic format, which makes it easy to use as a reference to look up specific myth-figures, but otherwise is straight retelling, including the variations found in most major primary sources (with which bit comes from what source clearly noted), with no outdated and/or agenda-driven interpretations. Tripp is not himself an academic, but rather an editor of academic books and a lifelong lover of classical mythology, so his 'agenda' was simply to act in an editorial role and curate the myths, in as complete a form as possible in a single volume, to help others cultivate that appreciation. The only thing I know of which does this better is the highly-regarded Theoi.com website, which is more exhaustive in drawing from all possible primary sources), but which has much less of a 'story' presentation.

Practicing Hellenic polytheists, especially reconstructionists, would likely prefer a library of books that addresses each primary source more deeply - but for those of us who are not specifically Hellenic, and not prepared to invest in many academic books on a single religioculture, it's ideal.

As you can see, it's pretty pricey to buy new (it's out-of-print, I'd imagine) - but it's readily available used at quite inexpensive prices; you should have little difficulty finding one in satisfactory condition for just a few dollars.

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Melamphoros

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Re: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2014, 03:56:24 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;138722
The only thing I know of which does this better is the highly-regarded Theoi.com website, which is more exhaustive in drawing from all possible primary sources), but which has much less of a 'story' presentation.

The only problem with Theoi.com is that it focuses on lesser-known deities and spirits.  For example, its pages on Zeus and Poseidon (and to a slightly lesser degree, Athena) are not quite as complete as the other Olympians.  Also, it does have an index of heroes, but it doesn't have pages on many of the most famous ones such as Achilles, Jason, Odysseus, Oedipus, and Theseus.

Although it could be the author of the site intended to add those pages, but hasn't had the time.  The site hasn't been updated since June 2011....
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 03:59:22 pm by Melamphoros »


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SunflowerP

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Re: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2014, 06:31:57 pm »
Quote from: Melamphoros;138813
The only problem with Theoi.com is that it focuses on lesser-known deities and spirits.  For example, its pages on Zeus and Poseidon (and to a slightly lesser degree, Athena) are not quite as complete as the other Olympians.  Also, it does have an index of heroes, but it doesn't have pages on many of the most famous ones such as Achilles, Jason, Odysseus, Oedipus, and Theseus.

Although it could be the author of the site intended to add those pages, but hasn't had the time.  The site hasn't been updated since June 2011....

 
Hmm, then the book I recommended is in fact better for many purposes than Theoi.com.

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AnaisStar

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Re: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2014, 06:43:56 pm »
Quote from: AradiaRose;138641
I loved reading Greek myths as a child, and after a recent trip to the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, I've realized how much I'd like to brush up on my Greek mythology.

There are so many options out there, but I would love to order a (non-ebook) book or set of books. My ideal translation would not be geared towards children and would be popular enough to find on Amazon or eBay. If it had lovely illustrations, that would be a huge bonus, but I would prefer a quality translation over everything else.

Any recommendations of companion books to help provide background, criticism, or historical information on Greek myths would also be much appreciated.

Thanks so much in advance!


Does anyone know of any books particularly about Apollo?

AradiaRose

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Re: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2014, 04:48:29 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;138722
I'd recommend The Meridian Handbook of Classical Mythology (you might also find it listed as Crowell's Handbook, and ISTR a third name as well - the varying names refer to different publishers, but it's the same book) by Edward Tripp.

 
Thanks for this! I'm planning to hit a few used bookstores today anyway, so I'll see if I can track any of these down. If not, the Amazon prices are very reasonable.
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Freesia

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Re: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2014, 02:49:10 am »
Quote from: AradiaRose;138641


Any recommendations of companion books to help provide background, criticism, or historical information on Greek myths would also be much appreciated.


 
I checked James Frazer's The Golden Bough out from my school's library. I only read the first chapter before I had to take it back, classes are too loaded for pleasure reading. I hate that about school. What I read related to Artemis' priesthood and was very interesting.

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Re: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2014, 04:17:04 pm »
Quote from: AnaisStar;138960
Does anyone know of any books particularly about Apollo?

 
I have not read it specifically, but Karl Kerenyi has a book on Apollo. Unfortunately a lot of his books can be a bit pricey, but I have lucked out on eBay and used book stores.

As I said, I have not read the Apollo one, but I have read most of his Dionysus book, as well as bits from the Hermes and Essays on a Science of Mythology. I am a big fan. He has a more academic bent so things are sourced well and tend to be well-founded, but his writing style can be really lovely at times, too.

Might be worth checking to see if a local library has it, at least.

drekfletch

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Re: Can anyone recommend a good set or volume of Greek mythology?
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2014, 06:48:24 pm »
Quote from: AradiaRose;138641
Any recommendations of companion books to help provide background, criticism, or historical information on Greek myths would also be much appreciated.

 
If you're still looking for companion books, I recommend The Complete World of Greek Mythology, by Buxton.  It doesn't narrate the myths, but it tells you about their settings.  It includes lots of photographs.  I call it a "coffee table encyclopedia."  It's highly segmented like a good coffee table book (you can pick it up, open at random, and read a complete section in a short sitting) while containing enough depth to be similar to an encyclopedia.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Complete-World-Greek-Mythology/dp/0500251215
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