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Bulfinch's Mythology (1881)

by Thomas Bulfinch

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bulfinch's Mythology (1-3)

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4,869261,601 (3.93)43
For almost a century and a half, Bulfinch's Mythology has been the text by which the great tales of the gods and goddesses, Greek and Roman antiquity; Scandinavian, Celtic, and Oriental fables and myths; and the age of chivalry have been known. The stories are divided into three sections: The Age of Fable or Stories of Gods and Heroes (first published in 1855); The Age of Chivalry (1858), which contains King Arthur and His Knights, The Mabinogeon, and The Knights of English History; and Legends of Charlemagne or Romance of the Middle Ages (1863). For the Greek myths, Bulfinch drew on Ovid and Virgil, and for the sagas of the north, from Mallet's Northern Antiquities. He provides lively versions of the myths of Zeus and Hera, Venus and Adonis, Daphne and Apollo, and their cohorts on Mount Olympus; the love story of Pygmalion and Galatea; the legends of the Trojan War and the epic wanderings of Ulysses and Aeneas; the joys of Valhalla and the furies of Thor; and the tales of Beowulf and Robin Hood. The tales are eminently readable. As Bulfinch wrote, "Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated. . . . Our book is an attempt to solve this problem, by telling the stories of mythology in such a manner as to make them a source of amusement."… (more)
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» See also 43 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
If anyone thinks this is a completely comprehensive look at the mythos of the Greeks, the Norse, the Celtic, the Arthurian, the Crusades, or the Middle Ages, then you're part-way correct. It is pretty comprehensive. At least by my eye. But it's more comprehensive for the Greeks, the Arthurian legends, and the time of Charlemagne than anything else.

In fact, other than the quick and dirty tellings of the the Greek gods and heroes, with christian sensibilities intact and morals gently glossing over the good stuff, the rest of the book is pretty much knights, knights, knights, knights, knights, knights, and a few more knights for good measure.

Do you like chivalry? MUST LOVE CHIVALRY.

Don't get me wrong, I've read my fair share of all the Arthurian stuff and I can't find fault with what I've read here. It matches what I've read in Mallory and other sources. The Crusades, though, well I only knew a couple of tales so this was pretty interesting, assuming that I didn't get bored out of my skull by all the grand head-bashings and the fighting of the Saracens or their own allies. Honestly, I read all of this knight stuff because I've already read a lot of this knight stuff and so I can fill out what I already know, but reading this is like taking a crash course in learning yet more about a sub-genre that I never really *cared* for to begin with, except in how it informed and influenced all the greats that I *did* care for.

You know, like seeing how GRRM cribbed this or how Tolkien cribbed that.

Still. I did read all the volumes of [b:The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume I|377965|The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume I|Edward Gibbon|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1352548717s/377965.jpg|14550831], so it *is* very interesting to see the crusades from the bright and shiny PoV all turned into myth instead of the grand mistake that we all know and ... um... is love too ironic a term? Will people get that I'm being completely sarcastic? Ahem. Maybe.

Still, when it came down to the parts that I was most interested in, such as the Greeks and the Norse and the Celtic, I was rather disappointed that they didn't get so much embellishment and detailed time in the page. I'll probably have to go somewhere else for the Nordic and the Celtic stuff, because it just felt like it was kinda... fast. Glossed. Big Bullet Points. They certainly didn't get much love in comparison to all the knight-shit. I mean... the grand romantic chivalry that all the men and women still swoon to.

This was a huge book, btw. Did you know that the Glossary was almost a few hundred pages? Yup. Impressive, right? Total disclosure: I skipped that. If I want to later look up a name, I'll hit up wikipedia.

:) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Fascinating account of myths and legends. I especially liked the ones that had Charlemagne's Paladins in them, but a lot of the stories are really crazy. For instance, Orlando falls in love with some woman, but she grows to scorn him because of this convenient fountain enchanted by Merlin that causes you to hate the people you see.

The Greco-Roman stories are great classics, including Phaeton and all those other stories of the follies and silliness of the gods. Then it has the Arthurian Legends which are also quite good.

All in all this book is excellent and should be read by people that like stories. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
This is a highly comprehensive book, so it's rather long, and took me quite some time to read it. It was great to see so many familiar names and tales presented in their original context. I'm not sure how much of it I really absorbed, but it's a great resource for anyone interested in mythology. ( )
  AngelaJMaher | Jun 18, 2018 |
I am currently working my way through this book ( )
  M_Clark | Apr 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Bulfinchprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blaisdell, ElinoreIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graves, RobertForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, Richard P.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, SabraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which helps to enlarge our possessions or to raise our station in society, then mythology has no claim to the appellation. (Preface)
The religions of ancient Greece and Rome are extinct. (Chapter One)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

For almost a century and a half, Bulfinch's Mythology has been the text by which the great tales of the gods and goddesses, Greek and Roman antiquity; Scandinavian, Celtic, and Oriental fables and myths; and the age of chivalry have been known. The stories are divided into three sections: The Age of Fable or Stories of Gods and Heroes (first published in 1855); The Age of Chivalry (1858), which contains King Arthur and His Knights, The Mabinogeon, and The Knights of English History; and Legends of Charlemagne or Romance of the Middle Ages (1863). For the Greek myths, Bulfinch drew on Ovid and Virgil, and for the sagas of the north, from Mallet's Northern Antiquities. He provides lively versions of the myths of Zeus and Hera, Venus and Adonis, Daphne and Apollo, and their cohorts on Mount Olympus; the love story of Pygmalion and Galatea; the legends of the Trojan War and the epic wanderings of Ulysses and Aeneas; the joys of Valhalla and the furies of Thor; and the tales of Beowulf and Robin Hood. The tales are eminently readable. As Bulfinch wrote, "Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated. . . . Our book is an attempt to solve this problem, by telling the stories of mythology in such a manner as to make them a source of amusement."

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Book description
Contains Three Volumes
The major contents of which are retained in this abridgment for the student and general reader

The Age of Fable
The Gods and Goddesses of Greece and Rome
Mythology of the Germanic Tribes, England & the Near East.

The Legends of Charlemagne
Accounts of the reign of the first Great French Emperor, his wars and conquests

The Age of Chivalry
King Arthur and his court,
Launcelot and Guenever,
And the death of Arthur
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