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
Rating:
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).

  • Margaret

    At a time when other children had their mothers reading "Sleeping Beauty" and "Little Red Riding Hood" to them, my father was telling me the story of the abduction of Persephone with his own adornments (I particularly liked the squirrels wondering why she was picking flowers instead of nuts).

    I bring this up so you understand that I was exposed to the Greek myths at a young age. Once I was able to read I got my hands on Bullfinch's Mythology and Robert Graves rather interesting two volume offerin

    At a time when other children had their mothers reading "Sleeping Beauty" and "Little Red Riding Hood" to them, my father was telling me the story of the abduction of Persephone with his own adornments (I particularly liked the squirrels wondering why she was picking flowers instead of nuts).

    I bring this up so you understand that I was exposed to the Greek myths at a young age. Once I was able to read I got my hands on Bullfinch's Mythology and Robert Graves rather interesting two volume offering.

    Stephen Fry now sits, in my mind, with these giants of Greek mythology. His retelling of many of the stories, especially the origins of the gods, is simply delightful. His love for the subject just shines through, and he has a deft hand with gentle sarcastic observances and natty oneliners.

    If I have to pick a favourite story it would have to be the birth of Hermes. And not just because Hermes has always been my favourite.

    I now have a question for Stephen. When is he going to retell the Iliad?

  • 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!

  • Jake

    This was by far the easiest 5 stars I have had the pleasure to give in quite a while. It is one of the very few books I would read again.

    Mythos is fascinating from start to finish. I have attempted to get into numerous mythology books before (yes even Edith Hamilton) and struggled. Stephen Fry has made these captivating stories into a very readable and even hilarious style. He has made each God not only memorable, but also much easier to obtain a deeper insight into what each God stands for. He

    This was by far the easiest 5 stars I have had the pleasure to give in quite a while. It is one of the very few books I would read again.

    Mythos is fascinating from start to finish. I have attempted to get into numerous mythology books before (yes even Edith Hamilton) and struggled. Stephen Fry has made these captivating stories into a very readable and even hilarious style. He has made each God not only memorable, but also much easier to obtain a deeper insight into what each God stands for. He does not pull any punches or wrap any stories in bubble-wrap, the vengeful wrath of each God is explained in full detail, yet he still manages to put the typical Fry charisma into each one.

    One thing I was not prepared for when starting this book is the vast amount I would learn from it. Not just the stories but where words linking with different stories originate. I found myself constantly telling people the stories of where certain words came from, or even just how certain words relate to the stories, even if they were words before the myths. This included little interesting stories over time that have been lost in translation to this day such as Pandora's jar. These are the type of facts I thrive off and I believe anyone reading them would love them too.

    Due to the amount of Greek myths there are, Fry could not put all of them in this book. I only see that as a glimmer of hope that there will be a second. Stephen Fry, take a bow, then write the second book! Brilliant.

  • Alice Lippart

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

  • 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 are 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 are 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:

  • Roy

    I love Greek Mythology or any mythology at that. This is a great collection of retellings but in Frys perfect storytelling mixed with his intellect and wit. If you enjoyed Gaimans Norse novel this will be 100% your thing. Has a little more depth to it than Gaimans and some personal touches which maked this a perfect read from start to finish.

  • Cheese

    The history of greek mythology told in a long long story.

    This is the audio book and it was a challenge to finish, but interesting nonetheless.

    Stephen Fry is faultless in his narration.

  • Sonja Arlow

    3.5 stars

    I love fantasy and mythical tales and I adore Stephen Fry (who's audio narration was pitch perfect). I have also always wanted to read / understand the different Greek myths, and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

    I found it very interesting to learn the relationship between these myths and the English language, and just how much of an influence these stories still have on us today.

    There were a few tales that stood out, and these were the longer stories that actually felt like proper s

    3.5 stars

    I love fantasy and mythical tales and I adore Stephen Fry (who's audio narration was pitch perfect). I have also always wanted to read / understand the different Greek myths, and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

    I found it very interesting to learn the relationship between these myths and the English language, and just how much of an influence these stories still have on us today.

    There were a few tales that stood out, and these were the longer stories that actually felt like proper stories, not just anecdotes.

    Eros and Psyche – I am not one for love stories but this was such an enchanting tale. A mix between Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

    Sisyphus and Thanatos – how could l not love the story of Sisyphus fooling Death not once but TWICE and for his clever tricks he got punished for all eternity pushing up a boulder that will never reach the top.

    And my word Zeus just could not keep his junk in his pants, could he? No wonder his wife Hera was so grumpy all the time. There are so many gods, demi-gods, nymphs, furies, and humans to keep track of. It felt a little overwhelming.

    The end note explaining that the author did by no means include ALL the Greek myths had me wondering just how many there actually are?

    So although my rating is not extremely high, this is a book that I will probably listen to again so I can absorb a little more the 2nd time around.

  • 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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