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177 of 182 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book for entertainment or education
Hamilton's mythology deserves its place with Bulfinch's mythology as one of the primary anthologies of classical mythology. Although the book covers Greek/Roman myths thoroughly, the Norse myths are touched upon only briefly, which is why I have given the book four stars rather than five. Nonetheless, the quality of the book is excellent, and it is useful as a volume...
Published on July 19, 2000 by Stosh D. Walsh

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83 of 98 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent, Fun Mythology
If you're a beginning, Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" is a great book. It provides a summarized version of nearly every significant Greek or Roman myth. Everything from Odysseus' journey to mere descriptions of all minor characters in this vast subject. However, its only good for beginners.
Having a brief background in mythology prior to this book, I found...
Published on May 1, 2001 by Exodus


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177 of 182 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book for entertainment or education, July 19, 2000
By 
Stosh D. Walsh (near Chicago, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Hamilton's mythology deserves its place with Bulfinch's mythology as one of the primary anthologies of classical mythology. Although the book covers Greek/Roman myths thoroughly, the Norse myths are touched upon only briefly, which is why I have given the book four stars rather than five. Nonetheless, the quality of the book is excellent, and it is useful as a volume to be read for entertainment, and as a classroom primer (I myself have taught a Mythology class using it as the primary textbook). Hamilton's retellings are engaging, and her scholasticism is evident throughout--a small example is her use of the less popular Roman names for the primary gods (Jupiter, Juno, Mars, etc.) when they are found in myths of Roman origin. Hamilton also includes information at the beginning of most chapters about the source of the myth and its author, which is very helpful. She synthesizes the longer myths, such as the Trojan War (found in the Iliad) and the quest for the golden fleece in such a way as to highlight their major events and give the reader a flavor of their content. Overall, I have not encountered a better survey of classical mythology in one volume. Incidentally, if the reader desires more information on the Norse Myths, I recommend Kevin Crossley-Holland's Norse Myths, which is also an excellent volume.
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110 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All You'll Likely Need, May 13, 2000
"Mythology" covers all the major and most minor Greek, Norse and Roman gods, goddesses, stories and locales. Edith Hamilton makes no pretenses that this is all there is to say on mythology, but she gives a reader a fine start.

Hamilton puts them into sensible structures so beginners can learn in a context which are easy to understand. She provides major section titles helping readers get straight to the required story, like "Stories of Love and Adventure" You'll find "Cupid and Psyche" as a chapter.

Chapters are named mostly by story like, "The Trojan War."

She quotes from the sources, so the reader knows how it is she got her information.

Character-driven in format, readers can look up a name, find the subtitle with that name, and read why that character matters. She writes narratively, sounding a little like "Cliff's Notes." This is a good thing, because the poetry from which these myths are drawn can be overwhelming.

Nicely organized is the geneological table section. It looks like a family tree, in a English royalty kind of way.

As a writer, I use it for a quick reference guide. I usually only need a few nuggets of information, and she gives me plenty. I first acquired it high school, using it to get out of those tough jams when I did not understand books like "The Odyssey," by Homer.

More than mere reference, "Mythology" is good reading for no other purpose than serendipitous curiosity.

I fully recommend it.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com
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132 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Tales of the Gods and Heroes of Classical Mythology, April 24, 2002
By 
This review is from: Mythology (Hardcover)
Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" tell the "Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes" of classical mythology and this volume, first written in 1942, is now a timeless classic itself. This was the first book of mythology that I ever read and it is still the best. When Hamilton retells the love story of Cupid and Psyche or the tragedy of Agamemnon and his children, she does so with a full sense of what it meant when first told by Apuleius or Aeschylus. These are not children's tales, but the heroic legends and religious beliefs of the ancient Greeks. Furthermore, the illustrations by Steele Savage have the elegance of wood block prints, which, for all I know, is exactly what they are. I appreciate Hamilton's choice to avoid relying on Ovid, for while the "Metamorphoses" is the most comprehensive ancient text dealing with the classical myths, Ovid is an unbeliever. For Hamilton the writings of Homer, Hesiod and Pindar are more abbreviated in terms of providing details for the myths, but at least they take the tales seriously.
Another strength of the book is how she organizes the myths in her seven parts: (1) Covers the complete pantheon of deities, including the lesser gods of Olympus and Earth and the later Roman additions, as well as the earliest heroes. (2) Retells the various tales of love, between mortals and the gods or each other, along with the Quest for the Golden Fleece and other early heroic adventures. (3) Focuses specifically on the greatest heroes, Perseus, Theseus and Hercules, with Atalanta thrown in the mix in a curious but understandable editorial decision by Hamilton. (4) Puts together Homer's Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid into a giant epic stretching from the Judgment of Paris to the founding of Roman, with the Odyssey and the tragedies of Euripides. (5) Tells about the great mythological families, namely the House of Atreus (Agamemnon), the Royal House of Thebes (Oedipus and Antigone), and the Royal House of Athens. (6) Covers all of the lesser myths, most notably Midas. (7) Goes off in a new direction, providing a very brief introduction to Norse mythology that seems woefully inadequate given the comprehensive compilation of classical mythology that precedes it.
I looked over other possibilities as a basic textbook for an introductory mythology course, but I keep coming back to this one. If you want analysis of these myths, then you certainly want to look elsewhere. But if you want a solid retelling of virtually every tale of classical mythology, then Edith Hamilton's volume is still at the top of the list.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good overview, but not the best reference., November 29, 2001
This review is from: Mythology (Paperback)
Looking at the title of the book, I thought this book would be a collection of myths. Upon looking at the list of other titles by Edith Hamilton (like "The Greek Way" and "The Roman Way"), I felt that this would be more of the history of mythology. This book is a blend of these two ideas.
The book is not organized to be a quick reference. It tells the main stories and characters as well as gives a brief section on the minor figures. For each section, the author explains where she is getting the material (for instance, from Homer or from Ovid) with a little editorial comment. Then, she relates the myth. She is giving you the story, but it does not read like a story. It reads like a college instructor giving you the highlights of the story with the occasional comment.
Although the bulk of the myths covered are either Greek or Roman, Hamilton does include some Norse mythology. Given the difference in worldview difference, I would like to have seen more contrasting of the differences.
I found this book to be a great review of the Greek and Roman myths. I found that the differences between the Greek and Roman interpretations of the same basic myth to be very interesting. It is not a substitute for reading the myths themselves, and for this, Hamilton does mention the authors and, sometimes, the play or poem. I would recommend this book.
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69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MYTHOLOGY FOR THE REST OF US, January 25, 2000
This review is from: Mythology (Paperback)
Long ago in pre-history, 1973 to be exact, in the age of vinyl records, before the Internet and Play Station and Cable T.V. and the almost insulting stuff that gets peddled to kids these days as entertainment, an acne faced 13 year old bought this book because, in those days, the cover had this guy holding a sword and a severed head on the front, (Perseus holding the head of Medusa), and I thought COOL! And I fell in love with these wonderful stories. I still have that much worn, much loved, much dog-eared paperback on my book shelves that later in life inspired me to read other myths of other times and places, which lead me to James Joyce, Flannery O'Connor and T.C.Boyle and a life-long head over heels romance with literature. Edith Hamilton's book is a good beginning for anyone at any age to begin, or continue, the remarkable adventure that is human story telling.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read. Couldn't put it down., October 20, 1999
By A Customer
I have been trying to find a good book to tell the great stories of ancient mythology and this did it. It was a wonderful book for anyone. Even if you are not really into mythology this would be and interesting book since it is part of history. After reading this book, it enhanced my love for mythology and I am now on a mythology binge, reading Homer's Odessey and Iliad. It is a definate must read
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent starting point in Greek Mythology, March 21, 2000
By 
Kevin Morrill (Kirkland, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book offers an excellent introduction to Greek mythology, which I found accessible and engaging. Hamilton surveys a wide breadth of the most important and classic stories from both Greek and Roman Mythology. I find myself referring back to the book from time to time, to understand a passing reference to mythology.
In her introduction, Hamilton demonstrates her grasp of the essential characteristics of Greek Mythology. She notes that the Greeks told stories that romanticized human life, rather than showing a grim or haunted Universe, as other early civilizations chose.
She also astutely captures how humanized their stories were: "In Greece alone in the ancient world people were preoccupied with the visible; they were finding the satisfaction of their desires in what was actually in the world around them. The sculptor watched the athletes contending in the games and he felt that nothing he could imagine would be as beautiful as those strong young bodies. So he made his statue of Apollo. [...] They had no wish to create some fantasy shaped in their own minds. All the art and all the thought of Greece centered in human beings."
Indeed! And the fruits of their labor are timeless stories that enrapture us.
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83 of 98 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent, Fun Mythology, May 1, 2001
By 
Exodus (Del Mar, California United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mythology (Paperback)
If you're a beginning, Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" is a great book. It provides a summarized version of nearly every significant Greek or Roman myth. Everything from Odysseus' journey to mere descriptions of all minor characters in this vast subject. However, its only good for beginners.
Having a brief background in mythology prior to this book, I found it fun and disappointing. It was a good 400-page read, but the writing lacks. Hamilton's interest to keep things short makes the myth sometimes hard to understand and blazingly fast. While the latter isn't bad, if you're interested in reading the details for yourself, this isn't the right book.
With the mediocre writing of Hamilton's (she uses "stuff" to describe elements in mythology, but that's just one problem), Mythology provides a decent overview of everything people need to know for the Greek and Roman theology.
Another bothersome feature this book had was its chapter on Norse Mythology. It seemed that Edith Hamilton got bored of writing this book and jabbed the Norse Mythology section in to appropriately title the book. It lacks in any depth. Additionally, her narratives show that her enthusiasm for writing this book was nil.
Once again, if you're a beginner and interested in mythology, buy the book. If not, you're better of with Bulfinch's Mythology or individual tales (Homer's Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid).
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edith Hamilton's classic introduction to classical mythology, November 29, 2001
By 
Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" tell the "Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes" of classical mythology and this volume, first written in 1942, is now a timeless classic itself. This was the first book of mythology that I ever read and it is still the best. When Hamilton retells the love story of Cupid and Psyche or the tragedy of Agamemnon and his children, she does so with a full sense of what it meant when first told by Apuleius or Aeschylus. These are not children's tales, but the heroic legends and religious beliefs of the ancient Greeks. Furthermore, the illustrations by Steele Savage have the elegance of wood block prints, which, for all I know, is exactly what they are. I appreciate Hamilton's choice to avoid relying on Ovid, for while the "Metamorphoses" is the most comprehensive ancient text dealing with the classical myths, Ovid is an unbeliever. For Hamilton the writings of Homer, Hesiod and Pindar are more abbreviated in terms of providing details for the myths, but at least they take the tales seriously.
Another strength of the book is how she organizes the myths in her seven parts: (1) Covers the complete pantheon of deities, including the lesser gods of Olympus and Earth and the later Roman additions, as well as the earliest heroes. (2) Retells the various tales of love, between mortals and the gods or each other, along with the Quest for the Golden Fleece and other early heroic adventures. (3) Focuses specifically on the greatest heroes, Perseus, Theseus and Hercules, with Atalanta thrown in the mix in a curious but understandable editorial decision by Hamilton. (4) Puts together Homer's Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid into a giant epic stretching from the Judgment of Paris to the founding of Roman, with the Odyssey and the tragedies of Euripides. (5) Tells about the great mythological families, namely the House of Atreus (Agamemnon), the Royal House of Thebes (Oedipus and Antigone), and the Royal House of Athens. (6) Covers all of the lesser myths, most notably Midas. (7) Goes off in a new direction, providing a very brief introduction to Norse mythology that seems woefully inadequate given the comprehensive compilation of classical mythology that precedes it.
I looked over other possibilities as a basic textbook for an introductory mythology course, but I keep coming back to this one. If you want analysis of these myths, then you certainly want to look elsewhere. But if you want a solid retelling of virtually every tale of classical mythology, then Edith Hamilton's volume is still at the top of the list.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abbreviated myths, July 24, 2001
By 
Joel Quevedo (Greenacres, FL USA) - See all my reviews
Edith Hamilton's Mythology provides a large survey of almost every myth imaginable, but this is also where the text is lacking. Many of the tales are so abbreviated that they tend to read more like reference pieces than actual stories. As a high school English teacher, I found that my students found Hamilton's book challenging. They often did not understand the myth due to the lack of detail (the abbreviation) or due to the diction she chose in order to express the myth. Hamilton's Mythology is an excellent source and I will continue to use it, but if you're looking for a relatively easy read of Greek myths in story form, I would recommend Bernard Evslin's Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths. My students had no problem with this novel and I found it an extremely enjoyable read.
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Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton (Mass Market Paperback - January 1, 2011)
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