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The Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome
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The Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  551 ratings  ·  53 reviews
The author sets before the reader a lifelike picture of the deities of classical times as they were conceived and worshipped by the ancients themselves, and thereby to awaken in the minds of young students a desire to become more intimately acquainted with the noble productions of classical antiquity. The aim was to render the legends, which form the second portion of this...more
Unknown Binding, 334 pages
Published 1979 by Longwood Press (first published 1880)
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I read this on my e-reader, which meant I didn’t have access to the much lauded footnotes (major drawback I didn’t know about when I bought it!). However, I read it to refresh my memory of ancient mythology before settling down to read The Iliad, and I am amazingly glad I did. Berens has done an excellent job of assuming that as an adult you probably know the basics, and manages to both refresh what you already knew, and introduce new material. I especially enjoyed learning more about HOW the an...more
Tommy /|\
What an embarrassing piece of work. Berens litters most of the retellings of the myths and legends with his over-arching commentary on how each mythological tale and archetype is essentilly the work of a "savage", "crude" or "unrefined" civilization.
A good summary of Greek mythology, relating the stories well but not exhaustively. Roman mythology, however, plays a pretty small part. This book is available online for free.
Excellent quality Project Gutenberg ebook:

It's a keeper for reference.
The reason why I like my myths as they are and not through someone's open interpretation or ordering is because the author usually tries to prove his POV with half-infos. So far, this is what Berens is doing... He doesn't have to mention what we believe nowadays or actually back in his days and he doesn't have to mention the bible. But I won't judge the book solely on the intro.

This book is just an overview of the myths, very vague. I wouldn't suggest it to serious students. It's very much censu...more
Andrew G
This book really goes deep into the belief of the ancient Greeks and Romans. It talks about all of the important gods and goddess. It also talks about the minor divinities like the furies. The book also talk about the legends of the heroes like Heracles and Odysseus: that is not in a lot of Roman and Greek mythology books. I would recommend this book or people who like mythology.
Pooja Naidu
Interesting, yes. Of course Greek mythology always is, additional thanks to Percy Jackson. But reader friendly? No seriously, the way its presented I would much rather go and do something else & forget about the book completely than actually read it with interest.
This was a very thorough examination of Greek and Roman mythology. Unlike Edith Hamilton's Mythology, Berens goes into much more detail. However, like I mentioned in my review of Hamilton's Mythology, the best way to get the full details is to read the sources.

I have the Kindle version of this, and I was greatly annoyed by the random question marks that peppered the pages. At first, I thought it was just for the ae dipthong, but then I noticed that the question mark showed up in place of the "r"...more
All I can tell you is that I am glad I believe in only 1 God and that we are all His children. Otherwise, it is way to confusing to understand who controls what, who's married to whom, who hates whom, and who's children belong to whom. So confusing.

The book was fine but the subject matter was not enough to keep me interested.
Lacking a classical education, and reading many of the classics, I often struggle to associated the many allusions to Greek Mythology. This book provided me with exactly what I was looking for. A succinct over view of the Pantheon, with the associated stories of each of the major players. I can't say I have a thorough knowledge of Greek mythology after reading this, but then all I was looking for was an aid in filling in the gaps of my own poor education. I have read in the past several of the E...more
Not dry or well referenced enough for a textbook and not written in flowery enough prose for an amusement.
✿ℎazℯℓ - thℯ ℛock Cℎick ℱairy✿
What can I say? I LOVE MYTHOLOGY. Gods and goddesses are just plain awesome. I've been listening to this for the longest time so I think I'll surely miss this. :)
This is a well researched and essential book for anyone trying to learn more in real depth about the religious beliefs of the Greeks and Romans. It doesn't go into any great depth in any one area but what it does is cover all ridiculous numbers of the Gods and Godesses of both Pantheons. I honestly had no idea that there were so many minor divinities until reading this book.

It loses a star by being a true history book and not making much effort to liven things up. It reads very nearly as a textb...more
Interesting book and very useful refernce if you're interested in the mythologies of the founders of European civilisation.Some of the language will seem rather archaic, but I think this was written in the late nineteenth century as a reference for schoolboys studying the classics.

This doesn't detract from the book being an interesting and informative read though. I'd recommend this as one to dip into from time to time rather than as a book to read from cover to cover. Each myth is broken up int...more
Nathan Jerpe
I tracked this down on Gutenberg, a great complement to Bulfinch which came out a generation before. I wasn't able to find much information about it but the excellent Table of Contents convinced me to give it a try.

Berens doesn't have the literary skill of Bulfinch but his coverage of Greek mythology is more exhaustive, and he explicitly delineates Greek from Roman myth more than Bulfinch does. Berens does however lack the Norse tales, and if you want this in print you'll probably pay through th...more
What a history. Had great details on each major greek god, their sons and daughters, the demi-gods, the heroes, beasts etc.
When it came to the actually telling of the various myths - quite detailed and specific, aiming more for the historians rather than the myth-fiction type readers, but informative nontheless.

3 stars - tedious and long. Not for those who want to enjoy 'story-telling' of the greek mythology.
I understand that Greek Mythology is a pretty hefty topic, but the author presents in an easy and understandable way. It's just that, it was hard to keep track of so many characters, though, and at several points I did feel as if I was in a history lesson...and I dozed off. But if you read books like Percy Jackson or whatever and you want to find out more, yeah, then you can use this book as your reference.
Nikki J
Not what you'd expect from a Victorian book. Surprisingly non-judgemental and coloured by mores of the times.
Having said that, he does allude to some beliefs common at the time, such as describing how intelligent a god's forehead was in depictions.
He only really fell down on his description of Priapus. He fell prey to Victorian prudishness. Tut, E M Berens :-)
David Gwartney
What I enjoyed about this book is that it was not only a good basic overview of Greek mythology, but also a deeper look into Greek and Roman religious practices. Many works covering mythology do not delve into the religious practices of the day, but the two are more difficult to understand when separated. Berens covers both in this classic work.
Sep 03, 2012 Leslie marked it as to-read
Currently reading - E-Book : A book you read a little bit at a time. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dynasties. Sea Divinities- Minor Divinities- Night and Her Children- Roman Divinities- Public Worship of the Ancient Greeks and Romans- Greek Festivals- Roman Festivals-. The Heraclidae, The Siege of Troy, Return of the Greeks from Troy.
what I really looked for was the 2nd part of the book. The first 150 pages or so does not link to the title at all - it is basically one long list of characters and it is so detailed that you will never remember. Part II containing the legens is phenomenal and allows you to close your eyes and dream away.
This is a pretty good overview of the classic myths. It takes the Greek and Roman godhead one by one and gives an overview of the character and his or her myths. What I appreciated the most was the pronunciation guide at the back of the book. It was a concise and well written book.
I read this on my e-reader. Nice information, though. Reading this reminds me of The apostle Paul's letters in the scriptures. Well, since this one is an e-book, which is not so comfy me, and im not into Myths and History books, so I rate it with 2stars only.
I love the Greek Myths and have ever since the D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths I near constantly took out of the library. So reading this book didn't really give me anything new, as much as allowing me to just enjoy some retellings of the same stories.
Andrea Hickman Walker
I enjoyed this, having a vague idea of most of it. It was, necessarily, a shallow overview, but very interesting nonetheless, since everything I know I have picked up piecemeal from other things. At some point I'll look into these in more depth.
This book is a great overview of all the Greek and Roman gods as well as the myths and legends. I definitely learned a lot. I probably would have liked it better if it had been written more in a story form, but it was still interesting.
Nicole Rivera
Jul 26, 2010 Nicole Rivera marked it as to-read
Shelves: shelved-for-now
I think this book would be a really good reference, but I am finding it difficult to stay with it reading it cover to cover. With that said, the stories are short, readable and informative (don't ignore the footnotes!!).
Arrozaq Nugraha
cukup informatif. Pilihan yang bagus untuk mempelajari mitos Yunani dan Romawi. Sayangnya clustering yang sesuai golongan dewa agak membingungkan ketika dicerikan dengan urutan waktu yang tidak sesuai kronis
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“Having discovered him[6] they gave full vent to their ecstatic delight by indulging in the most violent gesticulations, dancing, shouting, and, at the same time, wounding and gashing themselves in a frightful manner.” 0 likes
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