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Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 454 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Edith Hamilton loved the ancient Western myths with a passion--and this classic compendium is her tribute. "The tales of Greek mythology do not throw any clear light upon what early mankind was like," Hamilton explains in her introduction. "They do throw an abundance of light upon what early Greeks were like--a matter, it would seem, of more importance to us, who are their descendents intellectually, artistically, and politically. Nothing we learn about them is alien to ourselves." Fans of Greek mythology will find all the great stories and characters here--Perseus, Hercules, and Odysseus--each discussed in generous detail by the voice of an impressively knowledgeable and engaging (with occasional lapses) narrator. This is also an excellent primer for middle- and high-school students who are studying ancient Greek and Roman culture and literature. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"Edith Hamilton retells the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths with a sure taste and scholarship that help to restore their quality as perennial and refreshing fables about human nature, including our own." "The New Yorker""

"No one in modern times has shown us more vividly than Edith Hamilton 'the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome.' Filtering the golden essence from the mass of classical literature, she proved how applicable to our daily lives are the humor and wisdom of more than 2,000 years ago." "New York Times"" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446574759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446574754
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (454 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stosh D. Walsh on July 19, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"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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Format: 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.
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Format: 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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