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Bulfinch's Mythology

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,908 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews
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hardback, 1040 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Gramercy (first published 1863)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David
Have problems distinguishing Perseus from Theseus? Can't tell a Titan from an Olympian? Do those mythology questions on Jeopardy leave you stumped? Could mythology be your Achilles heel?

If your knowledge of Greek mythology is derived primarily from Saturday morning cartoons, then maybe it's time for a refresher course. Yes, I know - life is busy, and you have philosophical objections to the dominance accorded the Greeks where mythology is concerned. Too bad. That argument may be theoretically so
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Rozzer
Jul 24, 2012 Rozzer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america, reviewed, gone
Damn. Bulfinch's Mythology. About as classic as you can get. The early Victorian (hence highly bowdlerized and edited) version of classical Greek and Roman ideas about their then gods and goddesses. I'm sure you'll expect an erudite and telling critique of this all too proper version of stories that in the beginning (and for a very good while thereafter) were about as improper as improper could be. Well, the worse for you, friend.

A very long time ago, when I and my now long-time spouse were you
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Kristin
I have mixed feelings on this book. I bought it to read because I heard it was a good resource to get caught up on Greek myths before my Literature GRE and I read a bit more than half of the book before giving up on it (p. 468). While I really liked the excerpts from literature used when explaining the various gods and goddesses and other mythological characters, I did not like the structure of the book. It was in no sort of coherent order. I also did not like the comment by the author at the be ...more
Erik Graff
May 04, 2014 Erik Graff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
Having heard about Bulfinch's Mythology since childhood I finally broke down, purchased the cheap Modern Library edition containing all three volumes at a local mall and read the thing. Unsurprisingly, it was a bit of a disappointment, Bulfinch not being a scholar and his versions of the stories being mostly 19th century reworkings of particular texts popular in his time. For someone interested only in understanding some of the major Western myths, epics and legends well enough to catch referenc ...more
Jason Krakauer
Apr 22, 2014 Jason Krakauer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever wanted to know more about Greek, Roman, and Egyptian legends about gods, goddesses, and heroes? Well then, Bulfinch's Mythology is the right book for you. This 680 paged book goes into depth about the early creation of the gods and the legends and stories about how the world of gods and humans came to be.
I enjoyed this educational book about gods, goddesses, and heroes because I have an interest in Greek mythology for many years. I would recommend this book to anyone that also en
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Eric
Jun 09, 2013 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic book on mythology.
Gary Foss
I first read this many, many moons ago, back when the world was young and the gods still walked the Earth. I speak, of course, of the 1980s. Back then, I read it as a kind of primer on mythology. Bulfinch goes to a lot of effort to reference more contemporary (to him) writers ranging from Milton to Eliot, but it wasn't until this reread that I realized this book is meant to be a primer in literature, allusion and symbols rather than simply an overview of Greek mythology. As such, it serves as a ...more
Wendy
Nov 21, 2015 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
This book took me three years to read, but that's more than a little misleading, as I didn't read out of it at all for at least a year. It is still censure enough against the book, though--I ran out of momentum largely because it's so dull.

I'm not unfamiliar with the epic form--I read Beowulf in school (a very poor translation of it, as it turns out, but the essentials are the same, and I still enjoyed it), and Lord of the Rings, very much written in the style of the old epics, is in my top ten
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M.G. Bianco
Apr 13, 2011 M.G. Bianco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The graphic is misleading, as I did not read all three volumes that make up Bullfinch's Mythology, I only read the Age of Fables--his account of Greek and Roman mythology. The book starts out with the creation account and concludes with an exploration of the realms of the dead as told by Virgil in his account of Aeneas. Between them, are the various hero stories and othes.

Bullfinch's telling of the stories is traditional and thorough. One of the things I most like about it was his quoting of lat
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Rebecca
I was a little disappointed to discover that this edition cuts out all but the myths from cultures besides Greek and Roman, which I'd really looked forward to, and there were some other edits to cut out "superfluous" material, that isn't really superfluous to people who are trying to study the myths. But I paid $1.50 for it at a book sale, so I'll take it and be grateful.

I found it odd that Bulfinch uses primarily the Roman names for the gods and goddesses, rather than the more commonly known G
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Jonathan Winegar
This book seems like a great starting point for people interested in Greek Myths, Charlemange/Chivalry and Norse Myths.

I already knew all the Greek Myths so I skipped through them quickly.

The Charlemange and Chivalry section was interesting. It had historical info on knights and their lives. He also has the legend of King Arthur.

The Norse myths were the most interesting for me. It can be difficult to find good sources on the gods of Asgard. Reading about Thor is always awesome.

There is a story w
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Gabrielle Belisle

I picked this book up as a means of studying more mythology (I am a mythologist who has competed at a national level) and let me tell you, I have never had such a hard time finishing a book as I had with this. I started this book two years ago and I was only able to read roughly 150 pages of it. It is made up of a series of short (often flawed or religiously biased) stories and is incredibly dry. Bulfinch has mastered the art of horrible storytelling and appalling use of language. I don't reall
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Phil
Apr 12, 2012 Phil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
While a very ambitious work, Bulfinch's Mythology didn't quite live up to my expectations. Assembling it was clearly a major undertaking, but the spotty coverage and uninspiring presentation hinder the overall quality of the work.

The book starts off fairly strongly, with an exhaustive chronicle of Greek mythology. Here Bulfinch's enthusiasm for the topic is clearly visible. Not only does he relate the stories, but he also points out allusions to the characters and themes to them in literature a
...more
Ron
May 13, 2012 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
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
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Jerome Peterson
Nov 15, 2013 Jerome Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By Thomas Bulfinch
November 4, 2013

“The justly famous Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch contains three volumes the 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, as well as the mythology of Germanic tribes, England, and the Near East.

The Legend 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 G
...more
Steven Peterson
Oct 15, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Bulfinch taught at Harvard College in the mid-1800s. He saw a need to collect myths and legends of the classical and later world, as these were important parts of the Western culture. Three books ensued: "The Age of Fable," "The Age of Chivalry," and "Legends of Charlemagne."

First, there are nice introductions to each of the three component works. These provide useful context for what follows.

"The Age of Fable" includes some well known episodes, such as Prometheus and Pandora, Midas, Mo
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Lance
Feb 27, 2008 Lance rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with an interest in greek myth
Shelves: greek-myth
A nice review of classic Greek mythology. This version is a classic in itself. It contains nice asides wherein the author lists excerpts from other classic works of literature when they reference the myth he is then reviewing.

This book would be a nice introduction to Greek mythology, but is also a nice supplement even if you are familiar with the myths.

It makes a nice contrast with Robert Graves "the Greek Myths", which is more scientifically speculative in a social anthropological kind of way
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StrangeBedfellows
A good addition to anyone's mythology collection. I am disappointed by the heavy focus Greco-Roman mythology, since books on that topic are easy to come by, and the sparse attention to Irish mythology. However, there is a nice portion of medieval myths that aren't commonly encountered. Remember, though, that this isn't a modern book, so you'll need to be prepared for that 1700-1800s style of writing, which some other reviewers have remarked as being dry or otherwise unappealing. If you can get b ...more
Holly
Myth & Hero
Target audience: 13 years+

In Greek mythology, Perseus was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Danae. His mother was prophesized to give birth to a son who would kill her father, so she was locked up in a tower and later set adrift in a chest out to sea with the infant Perseus. When Perseus was grown, he went on many adventures, including killing the Gorgon Medusa, turning Atlas into a mountain, and defeating a sea monster to save Andromeda.

Strengths:
-At the time of its publication
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Stuart
Apr 03, 2015 Stuart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot of mythology and legends in my 30+ years on Earth. I've read D'aulaire's illustrated classics and Edith Hamilton. It doesn't matter if it's Greek, Roman, or even Norse. I find all of it interesting and fascinating. In fact, my wife is the same way. We hope to pass on this love of mythology to our son, so we are buying him mythology books at an early age, so that when he is old enough to appreciate them, they'll be ready and waiting for him. One book we recently added to our colle ...more
Hallie Fletcher
Let's say the world was this huge place with insomniacs. As long as this book existed, the word insomnia would have no use at all. Why, do you ask me? Well, because if there is any book more boring than this, I'd apologize to Angel for everything!

Bulfinch's Mythology is a book allegedly filled with mythological stories. It has um.. stories on the planets of the solar system the Roman Gods, which, of course, was blatantly plagiarized from Greek Mythology; something about chivalry (what is this, t
...more
Harper Kingsley
Oct 03, 2011 Harper Kingsley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
A very interesting read. A lot of the myths I read elsewhere are completely different than the ones I read elsewhere. I'm not sure which myths are the more prevalent, but the differences were very interesting.

As I like to include some mythology and mythological stories into my writings, I think this will be a very helpful tool. My copy of "D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths" brings in the whimsical, while "Bulfinch's" bring in a more practical view.
Julenew
Jun 21, 2009 Julenew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know that this is one of the most popular books for teaching mythology in school, but I think that's a real shame.

Thomas Bulfinch is *far* more concerned with how the Greek and Roman myths are integrated into the literature of other cultures than he is with telling the stories of those myths.

To *really* study Greek Mythology, read Edith Hamilton.
Killian Weber
Feb 24, 2014 Killian Weber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book will be a good read to any one who wants to learn about mythology or if you just want to read some thing for fun. In this book there are stories about Greek and Roman gods and King Arthur.
I enjoyed this book because I love Greek mythology especially and I am very interested in mythology and I love medieval times.
Angela Maher
This is a highly comrehensive 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.
Rachael
Nov 08, 2007 Rachael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Am I really dorky that this is one of my favorite books, ever? Oh, I just love it. When I was a kid I used to curl up with this and a Granny Smith apple. It was just that fun.
Come on, what ten-year-old shouldn't know the entire Greek and Roman pantheon(s)?
Patrice
Dec 02, 2015 Patrice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having heard about this book in Lovecraft's To Quebec and the Stars, I felt the need to learn more about the Greek and Roman mythology. My goal was to make intelligible the marvels of ancient poems often used in books. I would always "let an allusion pass unapprehended rather than sumbit to it", as Bulfinch writes in his preface, when I would encounter such passage in my readings. I found Bulfinch's Age of Fable fascinating, yet not an easy read. I was on my way to stop at the end of it, caring ...more
James
Oct 22, 2015 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was pretty dense, but it was supposed to be a survey of all major mythology from three epochs, so I expected that. Despite it being dense, I was, for the most part, caught up in the story-telling, which the author did in reflection of the times he was covering. I specifically liked how he wrote about the mythology of chivalry (Arthurian tales) in a middle-english voice (as best I can recognize it)- it absolutely brought me further into the story.

Worth reading for anyone who is motivated to
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Dee
Sep 08, 2014 Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of old fables and mythology.
Recommended to Dee by: A 90s mail-order book club!
I was given this book at the tender age of nine, as I was infatuated with mythology. That copy was worn out within a few months; I read from it almost daily, and memorized many of the stories so I could tell them to my friends. I think this is a wonderful addition to any mythology fan's bookshelf. While perhaps most nine-year-olds wouldn't enjoy it as much as I did (the language is a little advanced), I would say teens and adults would appreciate it, if they have a penchant for the old-style sto ...more
Elliott Bignell
Sep 08, 2015 Elliott Bignell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bulfinch has attracted a deal of criticism for the bowdlerisation of his myths, a charge which he admits in advance in his introduction. Such was the intellectual climate in Victorian-era America. I cannot transmit the accusation here as I am simply not so familiar with the myths, and the latter two books concerning Arthur and Charlemagne were mostly entirely new to me. All I can therefore say is that this was mostly a thumping good, and fascinating, read. The flaws as I perceived them were an o ...more
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Latona and the Rustics 2 7 May 30, 2013 02:35PM  
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