Greek Mythology Reading Recommendations
November 28, 2012 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Bookfilter: Suggestions on good books about Greek mythology.

I'd like some human input on good books cataloging Greek Myths. I've always enjoyed Greek Mythology but can never seem to locate a good collection of random/varying stories as a collection. The only thing I currently have in lieu of this is The Iliad/The Odyssey.

This is for me, an adult, so not children's books. I'd be open to a history book about ancient Greece if it is really fantastic, but preferably a collection of the Myths told during ancient Greece.

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.
posted by Twain Device to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Edith Hamilton's Mythology is a classic.
posted by coppermoss at 12:55 PM on November 28, 2012 [10 favorites]

Best answer: The Hero with a Thousand Faces covers some Greek mythology (but isn't necessarily about it) but will very much aid in your reading of it.
posted by griphus at 12:58 PM on November 28, 2012

Ovid basically did this in the Augustan period with his Metamorphoses. There are a lot of translations; pleasure-readers seem to prefer Ted Hughes's Tales from Ovid.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:58 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Robert Graves' The Greek Myths is a great compendium, although you should be aware that his theories on the origin of myths are rejected by historians.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:08 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's not quite a book, but is a great resource with links to sources, artistic representations, and other information. Really great to have while reading myths! Although he's a Roman author, Ovid covers many central classical mythological stories in the Metamorphoses. There are a number of translations (many older ones are free online) but you may want to try different translations to find one you enjoy reading. I think I've used the Humphries edition.

There are also books like Buxton's The Complete World of Greek Mythology, which I think is more art-based and the classic Bulfinch texts.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:09 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have a look at: "Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology" here.
posted by lungtaworld at 1:10 PM on November 28, 2012

One of the books that got me into Greek Mythology was Isaac Asimov's "Words from the Myths. It discusses words in the English language derived from mythology, and tells the stories behind them. Lots of fun, very accessible.
posted by PussKillian at 1:52 PM on November 28, 2012

Second Edith Hamilton. Has anyone suggested Bulfinch's?
posted by Mertonian at 2:00 PM on November 28, 2012

Several sources above paraphrase Apollodorus and Hyginus, but you may be interested in the source material.

Roberto Calasso's The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony is a book on Greek myth that's hard to describe--literary, meditative, allusive, etc. I liked it, but I don't know if it's the kind of thing you have in mind.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:31 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I looooooved Edith Hamilton. When I was, like, 5 (don't take this as a knock of the adult source material!) I actually wore out my parents' ancient copy of it before I got my copy of D'Aulaire's illustrated version; then I got a shiny new one :) The Hamilton is great because it has a smaller section of Norse stuff at the end.

Barry Powell's Classical Myth is a textbook, but it was written to be engaging and includes a lot of contemporary examples (like Joseph Campbell and Star Wars, etc.). There's also a short intro book. One of the remarkable things about this book is that it's based on the Classical Myth course here, which in its 80-year history has only been taught by six people.
posted by Madamina at 2:34 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Edith Hamilton for the win. Unless you can score one of these, my childhood companion, and if you do, treasure it for life!
posted by Lynsey at 3:04 PM on November 28, 2012

I also agree with those suggesting Edith Hamilton.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 4:03 PM on November 28, 2012

To add to the other (very good) suggestions here, there is also Who's Who in Classical Mythology, which is an encyclopedia of mythological characters and their various appearances.
posted by AthenaPolias at 5:57 PM on November 28, 2012

Very scholarly, but phenomenal: Timothy Gantz's Early Greek Myth.
posted by mahorn at 6:19 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

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