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Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes

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3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  33,098 Ratings  ·  1,457 Reviews
The world-renowned classic that has enthralled and delighted millions of readers with its timeless tales of gods and heroes.

Edith Hamilton's Mythology succeeds like no other book in bringing to life for the modern reader the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths that are the keystone of Western culture--the stories of gods and heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiqu
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Paperback, 497 pages
Published September 14th 1998 by Back Bay Books (first published 1942)
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Lori I just wanted to add to Emily's (excellent) answer. It's *like* the Bible in that is tells the stories of the Greco-Roman gods, much like the…moreI just wanted to add to Emily's (excellent) answer. It's *like* the Bible in that is tells the stories of the Greco-Roman gods, much like the Christian Bible contains stories in both the Old and New Testaments. However, like Emily said, it opens with a break down of the gods, grouped together with similar gods. It gives their Greek and Roman names and elucidates the minor differences between the Greek stories and the Roman stories of each god.

The book then moves into stories/myths involving the gods. The stories are edited with comments to include (sometimes) where the story came from (e.g. Homer's earlier writings, etc.) and slight variances in the story that are the result of translations or just disagreements in the retellings throughout history.

I actually read the Percy Jackson series and realized just how little I knew of Greek mythology. This book is an excellent read if you want to brush up, or (like me) learn about it from the ground-up.

In short, once you read through the descriptions of the gods, it becomes more story-like (divided into chapters, etc.). Highly recommend. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David
Sep 28, 2010 David rated it liked it
This is the second in a series of six reviews focusing on books about Greek mythology. The books included in this comparative evaluation are:

Bulfinch's Mythology (Modern Library Paperback Edition, 2004)
Mythology by Edith Hamilton (originally published in 1942; Back Bay Books edition of 1998)
The Greek Myths by Robert Graves (Penguin Books combined edition, 1992)
Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece by Gustav Schwab (Pantheon Books, copyright 1946)
Don't Know Much About Mythology by Kenneth C. Davis (H
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K.D. Absolutely
Aug 28, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Monique
Shelves: retelling, mythology
"This book makes me feel smarter," says my GR friend in her review of this book. I worked the same for me.

Greek, Roman and Norse mythologies are so old because they have been in existence thousands and thousands of years even before Christ was born. No wonder that many literary works have been based on them. Even the names of the planets and the stars. Even the names of my, mortal as they are, relatives and friends. I have a nephew by a cousin in Canada whose name is Hector but he does not write
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Trish
Aug 28, 2016 Trish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hm. I declared August "History Month" and read, amongst various others, Bulfinch's Mythology of which I was quite disappointed. In my research of his work and how it came to be I found a reference to this book by Edith Hamilton, who superseded Mr. Bulfinch in most classrooms. Thus I read this book in an attempt to find a better written encyclopedia. Unfortunately, I did not succeed.
To clarify: this book IS better written than the one by Mr. Bulfinch. One reason is that Edith Hamilton was a scho
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Jennifer
Sep 18, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Students
Shelves: classics
I believe, deep in my heart, that everyone who has attended high school in the past twenty to thirty years or so (in the United States, at least) owned a ratty, most likely used copy of this work at one time or another. This book has been on the required reading list of so many schools that nearly everyone has seen it, owned it, and opened it at least twice.

This is one only two such books I still have, 15 years out of high school: this and Strunk and White. This is a good book to have lying arou
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Welwyn Katz
Oct 31, 2010 Welwyn Katz rated it it was ok
This book is very hard to classify. Doesn't the title make you think "World Mythology"? Well, if it did, you would be wrong. I bought this book, looking forward to (especially) a female viewpoint of comparative mythology from various different countries around the world. What I got was an extremely thorough set of retellings (with impeccably named sources) by Hamilton of virtually every classical (Greek and Roman) myth ever told), with the very strange inclusion of approximately 20 pages of Nors ...more
Christopher
Feb 05, 2013 Christopher marked it as to-read
Only made it to page 180, but someday I'll finish it. In the meantime, some paintings of a few myths I did read:


John William Waterhouse, Echo and Narcissus, in which Echo (who can only echo what other people say) fails to save Narcissus from drowning himself while admiring his own wonderful visage.



Francisco de Goya, Saturn Devouring His Son, in which the titan Saturn eats all his children so that they won't be the death of him.



Peter Paul Rubens, Leda and the Swan, in which a woman is raped by Z
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Paige  *an exploding fluffball* Bookdragon


You can never forget your first love.
Janus Vielle the Erudite Artist
This book, aside from fairy tales, has introduced me to the world beyond our reach. I first had this book because back in high school, we were required to read it. I never really understood back then why it seemed that I was one of the few who enjoyed reading this and majority of our class despised having to be given the assignment to read it. I always found it entertaining. Well, the first few stories were a bit tedious but it was a foundation that helped me understand the other tales so it was ...more
Roya
Jan 13, 2016 Roya rated it it was amazing
سرانجام! پس از دوسال! به لطف امتحان های آبدوغ خیاری ارشد و فرجه ی طولانی، این کتاب خوشمزه را یک جا سر کشیدم
Jessica
Aug 25, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I remember reading this over and over when I was in high school, just for my own pleasure. Then I got to college, and took an actual mythology class, and the first thing the professor said was, "I hope you all haven't been reading junk like Edith Hamilton." What?! Well, most of his problem was with those bite-sized little rundowns of the myths, which is what I liked about it. It's a nice survey of Greek mythology, an introduction, if you will. There are a few inaccuracies, and she barely mention ...more
El
Aug 29, 2015 El rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I've had sitting on my shelves for a long time, and one I've flipped through several times to look up references from other books, titles, movies. I was finally encouraged to read the entire thing from having read Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, in which the 14-year-old protagonist reads Mythology and makes comparisons to her own life, comparisons based mainly on the story of Jason and Medea. (One of my own personal favorites, as well, because Medea is a wickedly delicious charac ...more
Mike
I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. On one hand, I didn't like the practice of Hamilton retelling only the myths that she enjoyed, rather than using the most wildly accepted version of the stories or combining the different stories into one retelling. I also didn't understand the point of the Norse mythology at the end, after more than ninety percent of the book was dedicated to Greek and Roman mythology - it was a little jarring, and very unnecessary. But on the other hand, the book wa ...more
Summer
Sep 11, 2013 Summer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Greek mythology lovers
Read this for English class. For greek-mythology lovers like me, it gave quite a good explanation of numerous myths and clarifies the big pictures of Norse, Roman, and Greek mythology. A bit too heavy to read in one sitting, but an excellent reference for fans of the genre. I wouldn't say this is a must-read, but definitely beneficial for a devoted reader.
Thomas
May 04, 2009 Thomas rated it it was amazing
I love this classic collection of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. It has many negatives, but I still have an affection for it because I read it during a formative period in my life. I find it relatively readable -- not true of most mythology guides written for adults.

Hamilton does a certain amount of commenting on the major sources from which she draws the myths. Therefore it's a great way to follow threads back through the actual sources; many other mythological guides don't reference their
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Crito
Dec 31, 2015 Crito rated it liked it
A decent TL;DR of Homer, Heisod, Ovid, and other greek and roman poets and playwrights. There's some good scholarly compiling work done here but I question the worth of it. It's mostly a professionally done wikipedia entry. It's easy to skip half of it for just being synopses of stories you could, and really should, read in the original. A five page description of the Oresteia is no substitute for reading the Oresteia, a twenty page telling of The Odyssey is no substitute for The Odyssey. If you ...more
Daniel Chaikin
Apr 03, 2016 Daniel Chaikin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The problem I have reviewing this is that it's about what you might expect...well, what I expected. It's slightly formal, simplified, cleaned-up, but fun and generally folk tale-like versions of the main Greek myths. There is also a short section in the end on Norse mythology.

In her introduction, she tells us mythology was like science:
"Greek mythology is largely made up of stories about gods and goddesses, but it must not be read as a kind of Greek Bible, an account of the Greek religion. Acc
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♡Ann  Matalines♡
“Love, however, cannot be forbidden. The more that flame is covered up, the hotter it burns. Also love can always find a way. It was impossible that these two whose hearts were on fire should be kept apart. (Pyramus and Thisbe)



A great book to understand the whole Greek and Roman mythology. It is a great help to one of my classes because it provides analysis and snippets of the real story. I like the briefness and conciseness of it all.

PurplyCookie
Edith Hamilton loved the ancient Western myths with an obvious passion--and this classic compendium is her tribute. Her "Mythology" tell the "Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes" of classical mythology and this volume, first written in 1942, is now a timeless classic itself. This was the first book of mythology that I ever read and it is still the best. I still have that much worn, much loved paperback on my book shelves that later in life inspired me to read other myths of other times and places. ...more
Heid E.
Sep 10, 2007 Heid E. rated it it was ok
This work gave me entry into the world of myth as a highschool student. My English teacher assigned it as a reference book to use when we were reading poetry and drama. Without it I would not have understood important references. But when I looked back at this book years later, having suggested it to a students, I realized that the versions of the myths Hamliton used were less complex, less gender-balanced, and less universal than the myths I had come to know through other sources. So, while I v ...more
Mohamed
Dec 20, 2013 Mohamed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Literature and poetry that are based on mythology are in abundance in pretty much every era, it is only the method of approaching the myth that differentiates the well writ and the mediocre. In this book, Hamilton is basically offering a collection of Greek mythology (and little Norse mythology) in a style that is similar to bed time stories. Only in her introduction and briefly within the myth itself does she offer deep insights or some sort of analysis.
However, this book was still an enjoyabl
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
This is a scholarly, but very readable presentation on Greek mythology. In fact, this story really added to my love of the Greek myths. It doesn't spare the reader the darker aspects, so be warned. I would give this book to a good reader of 8 or more years of age, if they were unfamiliar with the Greek myths. Probably would leave Bulfinch for an older reader.
Salymar
Jun 05, 2012 Salymar rated it really liked it
Since Elementary I am very fascinated on how things work on the the Greek times back when they we're really devoted with their Gods and Goddess.

I was expecting that this book would made my day boring as ever...but It didn't. :)
It's OSM - AWESOME
Tim
My battered old copy of this book has been around - it may have been required reading for my father back in high school. Anyway, I finally got around to reading it - and the odd thing is that I should have read it years ago. In fact this should have been required reading in my high school, and also in freshman English in college. Because the stories here are referred to so much in literature, the names of the gods and lovers and warriors herein ring down through the centuries with such frequency ...more
Sarah
Nov 17, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I've always loved mythological stories..So when I first obtained this book, I was so happy I started reading it right away.

I got to say Greek Gods are Freaks..Love their stories and all but My God they are just like children with a lot of power !!

Even Athena whom I've always admired came out as a Damn kid throwing a tantrum some times..
Specially in the judgment of Paris that led to the Trojan war..
and I don't want to even start with Zeus and Hera...Seriously they are Hilarious..It is amazing to
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Jackie
Nov 07, 2008 Jackie rated it really liked it
Mythology Comes Alive!
Edith has a way of breathing the myths into life while not being overly long. I loved it the first time I read it. I was 14 at the time and every night I'd read more and let the stories come alive in my mind. It was a great experience.
In some ways, it's responsible for setting me down a fantasy path in my reading tastes.

Upon re-reading it recently for the third time, I didn't find it as full of life as I did as a teenager. But I think it's me, not the writing, as my tastes
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Blake
Mar 13, 2016 Blake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely and concise introduction to classic Greek, Roman and Norse mythology. It ranges over creation, major and minor stories from the various pantheons, and those lineages that come down to us from classical tragedy. While a study this broad can typically be faulted for glossing over detail, Hamilton stays often to shine up the tales and narrate and shape them.

There's a historian's respect for the way tales are preserved and received here; the author faults and praises the writers of
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Mark
Apr 26, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never read, or even seen, a book quite so straightforward, compact, and simply written that brings together the mythology of the ancient Greeks and Romans (even a little Norse mythology thrown in).

I picked up this book for some beach reading. (I imagine that sounds strange, but I don't read novels very often.) As I expected, it was dry in parts and entertaining in other parts. Overall, I can't imagine getting a better introduction to the subject. I feel much better prepared to read the o
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Liz
When I started reading this book I found it really interesting and I couldn't put it down. But then as I read on I became bored. It became apparent that I was reading a book, re-telling the tales from other books/scrolls/parchments...whatever. It would be like reading a book that re-tells the plot of movies...I've tried to read those kind of books in the past and they kill me with boredom.

I managed to finish the book because I love Greek Mythology and have read Homer and Sophocles in the past a
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Yair Ben-Zvi
Jun 06, 2011 Yair Ben-Zvi rated it really liked it
An amazing collection and excellent primer to read before diving into the classics themselves. Miss Hamilton gives a sampling of the major (and notable minor) myths of greek and roman (derivative) mythology. The stories themselves are wonderful and are told in a simultaneously simple but profoundly descriptive way (along with hamilton's dry wit every now and again.

The section detailing norse mythology at the end of the collection feels a bit tacked on. It's definitely fascinating but gives no m
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Jazzmin
Mar 18, 2015 Jazzmin rated it it was ok
When I hear "mythology", I think of how, because of this book, I have suffered greatly. Yet, I learned a great deal of information. When I finished this book recently, I felt like I'd just taken in about a lifetime of brainpower. I mean the sun's power could not have zapped me more than this book did. Useful, I'm not sure, but informing, definitely. I would only, and I mean only, recommend this to someone who either has nothing better to do with their time or who is absolutely obsessed with the ...more
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  • Bulfinch's Mythology
  • Classical Mythology
  • The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology: An A-Z Guide to the Myths and Legends of the Ancient World
  • D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths
  • The Greek Myths: Vol. 1
  • Primitive Mythology (The Masks of God, #1)
  • The Norse Myths
  • Mythology
  • The Gods of the Greeks
  • Parallel Myths
  • Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned
  • Celtic Myths and Legends
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths
  • The Complete World of Greek Mythology
  • World Mythology: An Anthology of Great Myths and Epics
  • Classical Myth
  • The Dictionary of Classical Mythology
  • Οι γάμοι του Κάδμου και της Αρμονίας
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Edith Hamilton, an educator, writer and a historian, was born August 12, 1867 in Dresden, Germany, of American parents and grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.A. Her father began teaching her Latin when she was seven years old and soon added Greek, French and German to her curriculum. Hamilton's education continued at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut and at Bryn Mawr College near Ph ...more
More about Edith Hamilton...

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“Love cannot live where there is no trust.” 311 likes
“Love, however, cannot be forbidden. The more that flame is covered up, the hotter it burns. Also love can always find a way. It was impossible that these two whose hearts were on fire should be kept apart. (Pyramus and Thisbe)” 75 likes
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