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The Greek Myths: Complete Edition (1955)

by Robert Graves

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,701302,705 (4)65
Including many of the greatest stories ever told - the labours of Hercules, the voyage of the Argonauts, Theseus and the minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War and Odysseus's journey home - Robert Graves's superb and comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version. With a novelist's skill and a poet's eye, Graves draws on the entire canon of ancient literature, bringing together all the elements of every myth into one epic and unforgettable story. Ideal for the first time reader, it can be read as a single, continuous narrative, while full commentaries, with cross-references, interpretations, variants and explanations, as well as a comprehensive index of names, make it equally valuable as a work of scholarly reference for anyone seeking an authoritative and detailed account of the gods, heroes and extraordinary events that provide the bedrock of Western literature. The result is a classic among classics, a treasure trove of extraordinary tales and a masterful work of literature in its own right.… (more)
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» See also 65 mentions

English (18)  Spanish (6)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
2 v. ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
1955 Myths: 1
  CPI | May 2, 2016 |
To round out my self-education of Ancient Greek history, along with "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey", several history and philosophy books on the period, I also obtained 2 books on mythology- Robert Graves’ "The Greek Myths" and "Bulfinch’s Mythology" written by Thomas Bulfinch.

Although Bulfinch’s work has been described as “one of the most popular books ever published in the United States and the standard work on classical mythology for nearly a century”, I found it lacking in my particular area of interest. Of the Modern Library edition’s 857 pages, approximately 285 are dedicated purely to Greek mythology. The book also includes a vast range of other myths including a section on Hindu myths and Beowulf, several hundred pages on the Age of Chivalry (King Arthur, Lancelot, Tristram and Isoude), plus the adventures of Robin Hood. Bullfinch also provides several hundred pages on the Legends of Charlemagne.

Bulfinch uses the Latin/Roman names for Gods and Goddesses rather than the traditional Greek names, hence: Venus rather than Aphrodite, Ulysses rather than Odysseus, and Jupiter rather than Zeus, etc., etc. And if the reader has little previous knowledge of mythology, it appears unorganized and confusing. Bulfinch writes brief descriptions of various Gods and Goddesses, moving through time at a brisk pace, sharing anecdotes of interest, but he makes little sense of how the stories tie together. Also somewhat confusing, there are so many immortals, it boggles the mind how they all relate to one another.

Robert Graves’ "The Greek Myths" is also a book of great length. There are 782 pages plus a lengthy introduction… all narrowly limited to the Greek myths. Here you will find a lot more detail about each of the Gods and Goddesses, and the nice thing about Grave’s approach is that the immortals are introduced as they are born. He begins with the 4 original mythical variations.. introducing each God and Goddess as they enter the immortal world, providing details about their birthright, their nature, and their deeds. 50 pages are dedicated to explaining how the signs of the Zodiac evolved from the 12 labors of Heracles. Over 100 pages relate to the lives of the participants of the Trojan War- it’s causes, the outcome, and finishing with Odysseus’s return home from Troy to his native land of Ithaca.

Differing from Bulfinch’s Latin version, Graves uses the traditional names for all Gods and Goddesses. This coincides nicely with my editions of "The Iliad" and "The Odysseus" translated by Robert Fitzgerald which- unlike many other popular translations- also uses the more familiar Greek names.

In conclusion, if you are looking for general data on all myths throughout the ages, you might prefer "Bulfinch’s Mythology". Rated 3 Stars.

If you are strictly looking for information on Greek Mythology, go for Robert Graves‘ "The Greek Myths". Rated 5 Stars. ( )
1 vote LadyLo | Nov 20, 2015 |
The poet’s starting point in the Greek Myths is the change from matriarchal society to a patriarchal one as background for his retellings, which may have been inspired by the many years he passed at the Mediterranean island of Majorca.
  hbergander | Feb 15, 2014 |
I liked reading this book. I bought it as a part of an art history class, but I enjoyed the tales and provides great contexts to a lot of Ancient Greek and Western art. ( )
  Jen_Muller | Apr 7, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graves, RobertAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baker, GrahameIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gómez Parro, EstherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
García Gual, CarlosForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gómez Parro, EstherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLeish, KennethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riordan, RickIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The medieval emissaries of the Catholic Church brought to Great Britain, in addition to the whole corpus of sacred history, a Continental university system based on the Greek and Latin Classics. (From the Introduction)
Since revising The Greek Myths in 1958, I have had second thoughts about the drunken god Dionysus, about the Centaurs with their contradictory reputation for wisdom and misdemeanour, and about the nature of divine ambrosia and nectar. (From the Foreword)
In the beginning, Eurynome, the Goddess of All Things, rose naked from Chaos, but found nothing substantial for her feet to rest upon, and therefore divided the sea from the sky, dancing lonely upon its waves.
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Including many of the greatest stories ever told - the labours of Hercules, the voyage of the Argonauts, Theseus and the minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War and Odysseus's journey home - Robert Graves's superb and comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version. With a novelist's skill and a poet's eye, Graves draws on the entire canon of ancient literature, bringing together all the elements of every myth into one epic and unforgettable story. Ideal for the first time reader, it can be read as a single, continuous narrative, while full commentaries, with cross-references, interpretations, variants and explanations, as well as a comprehensive index of names, make it equally valuable as a work of scholarly reference for anyone seeking an authoritative and detailed account of the gods, heroes and extraordinary events that provide the bedrock of Western literature. The result is a classic among classics, a treasure trove of extraordinary tales and a masterful work of literature in its own right.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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