Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece

Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece

The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry's hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry...

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Title:Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece
Author:Stephen Fry
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Edition Language:English

Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece Reviews

  • Trish

    I first heard of Stephen Fry many years ago, have since watched him debate with the Church and wander through dense jungles trying to find nearly extinct animals, listened to him bring one of my favourite magical worlds to life, and learned a great deal from him on what must be one of the best quiz shows on (British) television. Not to mention his influence on LGBTQ rights and the acceptance of mental health issues (he himself is suffering from at least one). He's been on radio programs, televis

    I first heard of Stephen Fry many years ago, have since watched him debate with the Church and wander through dense jungles trying to find nearly extinct animals, listened to him bring one of my favourite magical worlds to life, and learned a great deal from him on what must be one of the best quiz shows on (British) television. Not to mention his influence on LGBTQ rights and the acceptance of mental health issues (he himself is suffering from at least one). He's been on radio programs, television shows, and in movies. He knows so much about almost everything, out of a natural curiosity, and had a very ... interesting ... childhood/life so far.

    In short: the man is a national and international treasure and I'm a total fangirl. *swoons* Naturally, he is not without fault, but that - in a very ironic twist of fate - makes him so PERFECT a man to retell the Ancient Greek Myths.

    After all, if one looks at all the groups of gods from around the world and all kinds of eras, they are all flawed - but none more so than the Greeks with all their debaucheries (and, by extent, the Roman ones but they are mostly a copy of the Greek pantheon anyway).

    Funnily enough, the publication of

    this year coincides (and I'm told it really was a coincidence albeit a fortunate one) with the publication of Gaiman's retelling of the Norse myths. Thus, I now have TWO wonderful tomes detailing the essentials of two cultural influences on what is nowadays Europe (the name itself was taken from Greek mythology).

    The Greek culture (city states, first democracy, the victory over the Persians and thus Islam, their type of warfare, ...) is the root of almost all the European countries today and one can see it in many instances. Moreover, the Greek pantheon is probably the most well-known one. Many artists have immortalized the birth of Aphrodite (Venus) or the love between Amor and Psyche or Apollo driving his sun chariot across the sky or Zeus imprisoning the Titans.

    As is also typical for mythology, the myths explained seemingly unexplainable happenings back in the day while the gods showed the characteristics one could observe in any human.

    Fry cannot retell ALL the myths that have survived, of course, but he managed the almost Herculean task (see what I did there? :P) of selecting the ones for his book perfectly and not only bringing the myths to life with his incomparable voice (I listened to the audio because I can never resist the man), but to also retell the stories in a way that is simultaneously modern and tasteful - which makes this book so appealing. He seamlessly weaves in references to pop culture, literature and music (modern and classic) and modern politics, explains linguistic roots as well as the naming of many a constellation and elements and therefore gives a detailed but never boring lesson about why the Greek myths matter so much, even to this day. In doing so, he gives us a history of ourselves, where we come from, what shaped us.

    We start at the beginning, the creation myth (from Chaos to order) and then move on to the Titans.

    From there, it's only a small step to Zeus and his siblings overthrowing their parental generation and establishing/ruling Olympus and Hades, after which we humans are created. After that, the fun really begins! We are being introduced to the muses (after one of which - Thalia - I was named),

    monsters, heroes, gods, demi-gods, nymphs, centaurs, satyrs and all the rest that make up this colorful and vivid world.

    We learn about family relations, rewards and punishments (often it isn't even clear what is what). We learn about the comical stuff as much as about the drama, the wonderful stories as much as the horrible ones. Naturally, it will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever heard a Greek myth that most catastrophes are started by the Olympians getting up to no good (often in form of raping an immortal of some kind or a man or a women - female and male gods alike were quite indifferent to whether or not you wanted to be their consorts). The message clearly being that as a mortal you could only lose (even rape victims were the blamed parties and got punished by other, jealous, gods). What is the most interesting and satisfying aspect about this, however, is how timeless these stories are and how much they still translate to modern problems (believe it or not, the rape or seduction was often only the beginning, setting the stage to a whole world of other plots). I guess we haven't evolved all that much after all.

    Neil Gaiman was asked, after the publication of his book about Norse myths, if he would do another one about a different pantheon and he declined, saying that the Norse mythology was where his heart lay and any work about any other would therefore not be adequate. I firmly believe it's the same with Stephen Fry and Greek mythology (although greedy little bookworm as I am, I do want moremoremore).

    I cannot recommend this book enough as it is as vibrant as the Greek pantheon itself and Fry is not only very knowledgeable in the myths themselves but also in languages (that were greatly influenced by these myths) and history in general and you can feel the author's passion for these myths, his enthusiasm therefore being infectious. Moreover, he has a unique way of knowing just when and how to make you laugh, giving the overall retelling a lightness despite the heaviness of some stories.

    I am both enchanted and delighted and would even recommend this book before one of the classic sources like Bullfinch (in fact, I hope very much that THIS will also become one such classic over time).

  • Bradley

    I don't know about any of you, but this one's a winner. Far from feeling like another dry recounting of a number of our favorite Greek myths, Fry's down-to-earth humor and traditional (modern) storytelling have turned these gods into something most relatable.

    I've read Edith Hamilton and Bullfinch's recountings and I've had the pleasure of countless other sources, but here's where Fry shines: he cherry-picks the very best stories and tells them so charmingly and naturally that I wouldn't be surpr

    I don't know about any of you, but this one's a winner. Far from feeling like another dry recounting of a number of our favorite Greek myths, Fry's down-to-earth humor and traditional (modern) storytelling have turned these gods into something most relatable.

    I've read Edith Hamilton and Bullfinch's recountings and I've had the pleasure of countless other sources, but here's where Fry shines: he cherry-picks the very best stories and tells them so charmingly and naturally that I wouldn't be surprised if most people would go out of their way to start their friends and family out with this, first.

    He does sacrifice breadth in favor of depth, but of course, that's a fine thing. These are some of the most amazing stories of the bunch. They're all told with intelligence, heart, and humor.

    Do I have a man-crush? Maybe. A little. But Fry has always been charming as hell. A must-read!

  • Alice Lippart

    The most fun and entertaining book I've read in a very long time. Loved it.

  • Ana

    Stephen Fry’s dry, sardonic wit and wicked humour shines through every page, particularly the pseudo-archaic banter between the Gods and Goddesses, which is perhaps what someone already

    Stephen Fry’s dry, sardonic wit and wicked humour shines through every page, particularly the pseudo-archaic banter between the Gods and Goddesses, which is perhaps what someone already familiar with the origins and the many misdeeds of the Mount Olympus dwellers, as well as with Fry’s personal love for the subject, looks for in this book. If you read the afterword, you will know - before making any such comments - that his aim was

    to interpret or explain the myths, only to tell them, breathing new life into these well-known characters and making the stories downright funny.

    I think it is this is an absolute treasure of a book and I hope Stephen Fry will delight us more in the future with his unequalled gift for storytelling!

  • Claudia

    I must have been around 8 when I first read The Legends of the Olympus and fell in love with Greek mythology. I reread it at least 3 times afterwards and remains one of my favorite books to this very day.

    Stephen Fry’s retelling of these myths is just as good as the original, if not better. It is limited to the gods (heroes’ tales are not included) but much more detailed than the version I read. I never really thought about how many of today’s vocabulary are derived from the names in these myths

    I must have been around 8 when I first read The Legends of the Olympus and fell in love with Greek mythology. I reread it at least 3 times afterwards and remains one of my favorite books to this very day.

    Stephen Fry’s retelling of these myths is just as good as the original, if not better. It is limited to the gods (heroes’ tales are not included) but much more detailed than the version I read. I never really thought about how many of today’s vocabulary are derived from the names in these myths – I always took them for granted, even if it's obvious. But Fry does an amazing job explaining them – either in the stories or in the footnotes.

    However, without his hilarious approach it would have been just another book about the Greek myths, even if more complex than others. But the way he chose to tell the stories is just brilliant.

    I can’t recommend this book enough – you’ll have a lovely time reading it.

    PS: when I first read the legends, in my edition there is a picture of François Gérard’s painting

    , exhibited at Louvre. It became my goal to see that painting with my own eyes. And here it is my childhood dream come true when I was 15:

  • ☘Misericordia☘  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣

    This is good enough to eat! Loooooooooooooooooooove it! Gosh!!! I'll try to savour it for as long as possible!

  • Sara

    This was the perfect book to read over a very sunny and hot Bank Holiday.

    Covering the dawn of the Gods, through the golden and silver ages, this discusses a wide range of stories told in the usual Fry wit. It’s incredibly informative and well planned out, told in a more structured chronological order than I’m normally use to with these stories. And I’ve read a lot of these stories. There’s nothing new here if you’ve delved into Greek mythology, but I enjoyed Fry's take on them - and I really li

    This was the perfect book to read over a very sunny and hot Bank Holiday.

    Covering the dawn of the Gods, through the golden and silver ages, this discusses a wide range of stories told in the usual Fry wit. It’s incredibly informative and well planned out, told in a more structured chronological order than I’m normally use to with these stories. And I’ve read a lot of these stories. There’s nothing new here if you’ve delved into Greek mythology, but I enjoyed Fry's take on them - and I really liked the little addendums of information littered throughout that enhanced my knowledge of the Greeks and their language and lore.

    My favourite stories have always been those about hubris, or pride, and here we get a whole chapter dedicated to the various ways the Gods have punished those mere mortals who dare to challenge them, such as Arachne the great weaver and Marsyas the ill fated satyr. The stories are told in such a laid back way, that it’s easy for those familiar, and those who are new to the stories, to equally enjoy them. The Gods are described in such a colourful, fun way, that their distinct personalities leap from the pages and allowed me to fall in love with them all over again.

    If anything, this lacked the luscious tales of the later period dedicated to the great heroes of Odysseus, Perseus, Jason etc. I hope that Fry writes another volume to include these at some point because they for me really embody the overall epic feel of the Greek stories. However, this certainly has its place amongst other retellings.

  • Emma

    As always, Stephen Fry proves to be a wonderful narrator, bringing life, humour, and modernity into these age old stories. Certainly, Jeremy Kyle's show has nothing on the incessant sexual escapades, jealousy, deceit, love, and revenge that fuel the tales, which are essentially one long list of who had sex with who and what children were born of it. Sometimes listening to it in big chunks was almost too much, it is perhaps a book best dipped into so that each mini story has a greater impact- oth

    As always, Stephen Fry proves to be a wonderful narrator, bringing life, humour, and modernity into these age old stories. Certainly, Jeremy Kyle's show has nothing on the incessant sexual escapades, jealousy, deceit, love, and revenge that fuel the tales, which are essentially one long list of who had sex with who and what children were born of it. Sometimes listening to it in big chunks was almost too much, it is perhaps a book best dipped into so that each mini story has a greater impact- otherwise there are moments when you think to yourself: oh,

    young girl tricked/stolen/turned into an animal/taken against her will? Looking at you particularly Zeus. Hera, are you still bitter, hun? Perhaps you should spend more time dealing with your husband than the poor women who can't escape him. And if you're the kind of young man who can stop traffic, best believe you'll end up dead. Or a flower.

    Anyway, it's a great resource, accessible and amusing. It's not exhaustive, there are plenty of big names who didn't make it into this cut, but Fry does well with the stories he includes, making everyone from Gods to nymphs that bit more understandable. Apart from Zeus, seriously, that guy...

  • Lucy Langford

    4.5**

    So lucky to have found this book in the local library. Stephen Fry does a brilliant job of recounting the Greek myths- through describing the tales of gods, goddesses and creatures alike. This was a very informational read and I was able to build my knowledge on Greek myths and uncover more tales.

    Stephen Fry writes the book in such a way that it is not dry or boring (unlike some other informational books) and you can easily follow the myths and use your imagination. His writing can be rath

    4.5**

    So lucky to have found this book in the local library. Stephen Fry does a brilliant job of recounting the Greek myths- through describing the tales of gods, goddesses and creatures alike. This was a very informational read and I was able to build my knowledge on Greek myths and uncover more tales.

    Stephen Fry writes the book in such a way that it is not dry or boring (unlike some other informational books) and you can easily follow the myths and use your imagination. His writing can be rather comical with his commentaries running throughout the book, and this just makes the book more captivating!

    He talks about most of the gods and their stories, as well as metamorphoses (which I loved!). His book contains all the Gods in their selfish and arrogant ways and the consequences this has on the people they meet.

    This book included some of my favourite myths, for example, I have always been intrigued by the story of Hades and Persephone. It was great to also be introduced to the Furies (I love the underworld and was especially curious of them). It was also great to learn more about the story of Arachne.

    Not only does he write about the myths but he also includes footnotes which provide extra information. For example, how some words are still used today, or how they were derived from Greek myth.

    Overall this was a very comprehensive read and fulfilled my curiosity of learning more about the Greek myths. I loved learning about the Greek myths when I was a child, and now as an adult, it is fantastic to read a book which reinforces this curiosity!

  • Netta

    It is regrettable that Stephen Fry's talent to be effortlessly snobbish in a very appealing, charmingly British way, does absolutely no good to the subject of his book. The main problem with this book is that Fry's retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece is exactly what the title promises – it is the retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece with some supposedly witty (but more often irrelevant) remarks which can be easily omitted. The question is: Do we actually need one more retelling of Greek

    It is regrettable that Stephen Fry's talent to be effortlessly snobbish in a very appealing, charmingly British way, does absolutely no good to the subject of his book. The main problem with this book is that Fry's retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece is exactly what the title promises – it is the retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece with some supposedly witty (but more often irrelevant) remarks which can be easily omitted. The question is: Do we actually need one more retelling of Greek myths? No. Are we in desperate need of Fry's comments on well-known, beloved stories? The answer is, I'm afraid, no. While Neil Gaiman, writing his

    tried to make it look like a comforting fairy tale, Fry simply retold what, I daresay, has already been told rather nicely.

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