Monday, September 10, 2018

Getting Real About Mythology

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and HeroesMythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Edith Hamilton may have written Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes more than a half century ago and she may have been fairly ancient when she did so, but she still put out one seriously readable book!

Hamilton took from the best sources to cobble together slick summaries of all your old time myth favorites. Before giving each mythical story's highlights, she details the different writers who created a version of it and explains the qualities of the best ones. Sometimes she berates the lesser attempts and I appreciated the balance, especially since she explains her critique.

Now having said, I have to note the caveat that this is not a scholarly work. This is a summary, a boiling-down, a sugar-coating of a topic that frankly could have been presented in a much more academic, dry manner. I'm glad it wasn't. These are not cursory run-throughs. They're full of detail and color.

The main issue with a book with that title is that you expect a wide ranging survey of the topic. This, however, is almost entirely about the Greek Myths. The Roman versions are only mentioned, because the Romans stole their myths wholesale from the Greeks. Aside from that, we get a very superficial mention of the Norse myths that takes up maybe the last 5% of the book. Nothing else in all the rest of humanity is even slightly touched upon. Disappointing. But if you want an easy, fun read on the Greek stuff, this is the book for you!

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