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Product Details

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: New American Library (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451206851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451206855
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Biography (from Stanford University, Humanities and Sciences website):

Professor Richard P. Martin teaches Greek and Latin literature at Stanford. Martin's research focuses primarily on Homeric poetry and how it functioned as a performance art in ancient Greece. His research involves fieldwork in modern Crete where he interviews people there who still perform traditional oral epics. His analysis of audio recordings of people singing these poems led him to find a number of similarities with ancient Greek epic poetry. In addition,he has studied resemblances between ancient oral poetry and modern rap.

Prof. Martin is currently working on two books concerning Homer: the first, Rhapsodizing Homer, looks at how ancient competitive performance can aid in the understanding of the poems of Homer, Hesiod, and the hymns; the second, The Last Hero Song: Telemachus and the Generation of the Odyssey, is about the self-consciousness of the Odyssey in terms of the end of a tradition.

Martin is also currently working on the performance of Greek lyric as represented in myth and art, as well as editing a collection of essays on the analysis of Greek myth. He is just starting another book on Homeric theology and poetics. He has worked on presenting Homer digitally, in a full-scale multimedia version of the Odyssey on CD, in connection with distance learning experiments.

Born and raised in Boston, he studied Classics as well as Medieval and Modern Irish language and literature at Harvard University where he received his B.A. in Classics and Celtic Literature and M.A. and Ph.D. in Classical Philology. Before coming to Stanford in 2000, Professor Martin taught Classics for eighteen years at Princeton University. He was the Chair of the Classics department at Stanford from 2002 through 2008.

Key Works

"Read on Arrival," in The Wandering Poets of Ancient Greece, edit. R. Hunter and I. Rutherford. Cambridge 2009.

"Words Alone are Certain Good(s)" TAPA (138.2) 313-49 (2008)

"Myth, Performance, Poetics: the Gaze from Classics," pp. 45-52 in Ethnographica Moralia: Experiments in Interpretive Anthropology, edit. Neni Panourgia and George Marcus. New York: Fordham UP.

"Outer Limits, Choral Space," pp.35-62 in Visualizing the Tragic: Drama, Myth, and Ritual in Greek Art and Literature, edit. Chris Kraus, Simon Goldhill, Helene P. Foley, Jas Elsner. Oxford, 2007.

"Homer among the Irish: Synge, Yeats, George Thompson, and Parry," pp 75-91 in Homer in the Twentieth Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon, edit. Barbara Graziosi and Emily Greenwood. Oxford.

The Birds (Aristophanes). Translated and adapted with Paul Muldoon. Gallery Press, 1999.

"The Scythian Accent: Anacharsis and the Cynics" in B. Branham & M.-O. Goulet-Caze eds. The Cynics: The Cynic Movement in Antiquity and Its Legacy. University of California Press, 1997: 136-55.

The Language of Heroes: Speech and Performance in the Iliad. Cornell University Press, 1993.

"The Seven Sages as Performers of Wisdom" in C. Dougherty and L. Kurke eds. Cultural Poetics of Archaic Greece: Cult, Performance, Politics. Cambridge University Press, 1993: 108-128.

"Telemachus and the Last Hero Song" Colby Quarterly 29.3 (1993): 222-40.

"Hesiod's Metanastic Poetics" Ramus 21.1 (1992): 11-33.

Healing, Sacrifice, and Battle: Amechania and Related Concepts in Early Greek Poetry. Institut fur Sprachwissenschaft der Universitat Innsbruck, 1983.

Customer Reviews

I love Greek mythology.
It presents the stories clearly and in a prose form that is easy to read and understand.
Roman Martel
It was in very good conditions, I received it before Xmas.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By CreepyT on November 14, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Have you ever wondered what the Greek perspective was on the beginnings of the earth (Gaia)? How did Zeus come to reign over Mount Olympos with Hera, his sister, by his side? What were, according to the ancient Greeks, the origins of humans? And what exactly is Pandora's box anyway? Richard Martin divulges all of this and more in this excellent, all-encompassing text on Greek myth.

The introduction speaks of where Greek myth comes from, mentioning, of course, Hesiod's Theogony, Homer, and the like. The early chapters introduce us to Chaos (whether it be a mere entity or a personification), Gaia, Eros, Ouranos, and the Titans, before leading into the Olympians. There are also chapters on Greek heroes, such as Herakles, Theseus, Perseus, and Jason. Tales from Athens and Thebes are also covered quite extensively. The final chapter speaks of the war at Troy. The chronology this material is presented in flows quite well, making it easy to read straight through, though it can also be read in small scattered segments if need be.

I bought this book as a supplemental study aid for a course I recently took in Greek and Roman mythology, ended up reading it cover to cover, and I found that I actually turned to it more often than the course textbook. I found it easier to read than the course textbook, even though it covered the same basic information (with very few minor exceptions). Each myth or legend reads more like a short story than a blasé academic diatribe, making the material much more easily digestible and interesting. Martin also adds in a little bit of background information that helps to put many of the myths and legends into context, which can be intriguing at times. Martin also includes a few maps and family trees, which are a great quick reference.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Roman Martel on January 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best collections of greek myths available. It presents the stories clearly and in a prose form that is easy to read and understand. It also tells the stories in a dynamic fashion, allowing the reader to thrill with the adventures of Greek gods and heroes.

The book covers the origins of the gods and titans and covers all the most famous stories up to the Trojan war and Odysseus' return home. It also includes a family tree of the gods and goddesses, a map of the ancient Greek world and a list of recommended reading for those readers who want to find out more about the myths.

This is probably the most concise and clear book on Greek myths and offers a great introduction to anyone who is just starting to explore this field, or to readers who just want to sit down with their favorite story. Highly Recommended.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Naji Anaizi on August 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
A concise thoughtful introduction to Greek Mythology. The Author provides the most popular version of the Greek myths, but also informs readers on the details that ancient sources disagree. The book is very readable. If you were like me and have little knowledge of Greek mythology, this book will increase your knowledge tremendously. The introduction of the book also offers a window to how mythology has been studied and analyzed over time.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cowabunga on December 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
It might seem a littl odd that I'm describing a book of Greek myths as "modern," but that's exactly what this is. Unlike older, more well-known collections of mythology, like Edith Hamilton's or Bullfinch's, "Myths of the Ancient Greeks" presents its tales like stories you might read anywhere, with drama, romance, and dialoge. It doesn't read like a dry academic lecture; you can see why the Greeks cherished their religion.

I really enjoyed the way the book with organized, it felt a lot less haphazard than many books of mythology. There are nine sections:

1. The Begining
2. Singers, Players, and Rivals
3. Lovers Mortal and Divine
4. The Tales of Athens
5. Theseus, Lord of Athens
6. Herakles, Greatest of Heroes
7. Once and Future Hereoes (Featuring Jason and Perseus)
8. The Saga of Thebes (Oedipus)
9. The War at Troy

What I found most helpful was the introduction at the beginning, which featured a nine page family tree, maps, and an insightful introduction on the origins and uses of mythology.

Finally, this is simply a fun read. Greeks didn't shy away from anything, and their myths traverse subjects from incest to war to fratricide to cross-dressing. You don't have to read it all in one go; you can pick it up and flip to what interests you. This is probably the best introductory level mythology book I've read, and I highly recommend it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rollo Tamasie on April 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When purchasing this book I read a lot of reviews to see whether I should buy it or not. I read some reviews that were disappointed with the book but said it was relatively good. I bought it and read it. Superbly explained in the introduction as to what this book is trying to accomplish should alleviate any doubt to the superior job done on this piece of work.

Greek myths were not handed down to us as lets say a Harry Potter book will be handed down to later generations. Hundreds of Greek communities had developed stories in ancient Greece with the Greek characters we know as the Zeus, Hades, Poseidon and the rest. But in the oral community, before the writing was conceived in Greece, each community had different stories of all these characters. There would have been similarities in all communities but each would have had a different take on the stories, myths. When the state of Greece became more organized and defined, these myths would have come together in a collective consciousness. But no single book or series of books would have collected all these stories. Instead, a multitude of fragments is left to the modern world and these fragments need to be put together in a unified story, or more accurately, stories.

Dr. Martin has responsibly compiled the fragments and retold the myths for us to enjoy. Because of the lack of cultural knowledge for us modern readers, he has to from time to time add comments that inform what would have been readily known to the ancient Greeks. The Greek myths we think we know can be reexamined with a high degree of confidence of knowing we have a reliable accounting of said stories.

This book is highly recommended. Please read the introduction before preceding to the rest. It will help you understand the work and its full intent.
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