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The Wisdom of the Myths: How Greek Mythology Can Change Your Life (Learning to Live, #2)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  285 ratings  ·  39 reviews
More than 100,000 copies sold in France

A fascinating new journey through Greek mythology that explains the myths' timeless lessons and meaning

Heroes, gods, and mortals. The Greek myths are the founding narratives of Western civilization: to understand them is to know the origins of philosophy, literature, art, science, law, and more. Indeed, as Luc Ferry shows in this mast
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Harper Perennial (first published 2008)
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  285 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Wisdom of the Myths by Luc Ferry is about philosophy rather than mythology in the strictest sense, but it is still one of the best presentations of Greek myth for modern audiences that I have read. It is largely about how Greek mythology is now more important than ever in the quest for understanding humanity’s place in the cosmos, based on how philosophy was born from and directly influenced by Greek mythology. Ferrry insists that Greek mythology’s lasting impact on our culture makes it impe ...more
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
Gostei mesmo muito deste livro! Um verdadeiro guia através da mitologia grega (e um pouco de filosofia, mais para o final) pela mão de quem conhece a fundo os textos antigos e nos leva consigo através dos mitos que, afinal fazem parte da nossa história colectiva, mesmo quando não temos consciência disso. Li-o através do BookCrossing e entretanto decidi oferecer um exemplar a mim própria (nem de propósito, está aí o Natal), porque gostei tanto, porque tem partes que gostava de voltar a ler, e ain ...more
Joseph Adelizzi, Jr.
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I won this book on

Back in the summer of '79, like many teenaged kids, I was headed to the beach with friends. My biggest concern was finding a good book to read. Is that what most teenagers are concerned with as they head to the shore? Anyway, I settled on a book of Greek myths because I had always enjoyed hearing the stories and thought a more complete exposure was a good idea. From that summer on I was hooked on the myths. However, one aspect of the myths, or rather how the myth
Léa Moreau
Je suis relativement déçue par cet ouvrage. Sa promesse était pourtant belle: disséquer la philosophie sous-tendant les mythes grecs et en tirer un enseignement pour notre vie quotidienne. Or, il s'avère que l'auteur ne présente que deux concepts qu'il répète (recycle?) pendant 400 pages, ce que je trouve bien maigre vis-à-vis de la promesse du titre.
Par contre, et c'est le point positif de cet ouvrage, il offre une plongée dans la mythologie grecque en la présentant d'une manière simple et viva
Matt McCormick
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Luc Ferry is a beautiful writer with keen insight. He is a marvelous story teller with an important message. Some, who have reviewed The Wisdom of the Myths, rightly point out that Minister Ferry can be repetitive. I don’t find the repetition to be a flaw. He tells us at the beginning that he believes myth can inspire everyone, including our children. He writes to an audience that is thoughtful, not academic, and provides a storyline that can serve adults as they share the Greek Myths with young ...more
Jan Cornelis
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New to mythology and hating all the different names: try this one.
I am a big fan of Luc Ferry his A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living. He gives the reader a history of thought that give specific answers to questions on life, dead and love. In this history we see different modes, that together give an exciting picture of Western thought. In this work on mythology he tries to do the same, but it doesn't get nearly as good.

Three propositions: Immanent thought about harmony

The main proposition is that mythology forms a body of knowledge tha
Louis Chatelet
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alexander Verbist
In dit boek maakt de auteur duidelijk wat precies het nut was (en is) van Griekse mythen en sagen. Interessant om zijn mening te horen over bepaalde verhalen en hun betekenis, en over wat de eeuwige hoofdthema's in veel mythen (zoals de strijd tussen chaos en kosmos).
Constanza Gomez
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
The book was very good and helped me on clarifying certain things, but the writing voice of the author was quite poor at some parts and didn't feel like a serious work at all. Not sure if it's a translation thing,
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the apexes of Western culture occurred in Greece of 2,000 to 2,500 years ago, a historical period that still influences – if not permeates – life today. We can find Homer, Hesiod, Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, Sappho, and Lucretius in bookstores; the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes are performed in theaters and they and the “Iliad” and “Odyssey” are made into movies. We can find television series about Hercules and movies about him, Achilles, Odysseus, Helen, J ...more
This is well worth reading for anyone interested in Greek mythology, philosophy, or exploring how to live well when life is just really really hard. Ferry does an excellent job of putting the myths back into the Greek world. He argues that by looking at the myths from the ancient point of view in which they were developed, we will see their purpose is not necessarily religious, but rather a means for the Greeks to figure out how to live in a difficult world.

I can’t really do justice to this boo
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received this book as part of Goodreads First Reads program. This book is written as an attempt to glean modern life lesson from ancient Greek myths. Specifically, the author promotes the idea of a "Secular spirituality" as a more modern, philosophically-based morality system than monotheistic major religions. Ferry argues that Greek myths teach us to find one's greatest happiness, one must find their natural state and stick to it, without hoping for unrealistic change in the future nor pining ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Il libro mi è stato regalato da mio padre per soddisfare la necessità di conoscere i miti e le storie più famose dell'antica cultura greca, per il corso di storia dell'arte classica. Il compito lo ha completamente rispettato riuscendomi a dare addirittura di più del dovuto.
Luc Ferry, tramite questo libro, narra e insegna i concetti in cui credevano i greci nell'antichità, delle origini del mondo, dei primi dei, dei primi uomini fino alle vicende dei più grandi eroi del Peloponneso.
Ci dispone d
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Author Luc Ferry is an award winning scholar and former French minister of national education. He knows his mythology, and goes back to the oldest sources he can find for his reading; in many cases, sources more than 2000 years old. He’s very thorough, and roots out the basic meaning of the oldest Greek myths: the creation, King Midas, the Odyssey, Oedipus and others. A lot of it all boils down to the opposing forces of chaos and order; order (as personified by Zeus et al) must continually beat ...more
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Although Ferry underwhelmed me the last time I read him, I enjoyed his introduction to the Greek mythos. Wisdom from the Myths is two things; Ferry retells the major stories of Greek mythology, patching them together from Homer and the dramatists, but brings them together to argue that they constitute a coherent worldview. This is one of an orderly universe in which man has a definite role as a member of a polis. (Odysseus' journey is read then as a spiritual one, with the hero confronting the d ...more
[3 stars] This is an examination of Greek mythology as a forerunner to Greek philosophy. Ferry looks at the myths not as entertaining if slightly bizarre stories, and not from a modern viewpoint that interprets them psychologically. He's trying to suss out how the ancient Greeks themselves understood the myths, and what the myths say about how people should live. I found all that interesting, although I think I should have read his earlier book A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide t ...more
Heather Pagano
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology, philosophy
An insightful deep dive into Greek mythology that I thoroughly enjoyed. Ferry does a good job setting up a framework for understanding the myths as an exploration of chaos vs. order, and the quest of the individual to find his place in the cosmos. The introduction did a fantastic job setting the stage for a deeper understanding of the myths. I also loved the way Ferry grouped and retold myths- the book helped me make some cool connections I'd never realized before. I would have liked to spend mo ...more
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muito bom o livro que mostra como a filosofia grega já estava presente na mitologia. Reforçando a tese do autor que a filosofia é uma alternativa laica para a religião e de certa forma uma evolução da religião pois aborda questões semelhantes sem estar preso ao dogma da fé. Luis Pondé, o filósofo brasileiro autor de diversos livros sobre religião, defende que o estudo da religião e das questões que a religião trata desenvolve o intelecto e que o ateísmo seria uma solução fácil que prescinde da r ...more
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it
There is a lot of redundancy in this book though, as the myths interlock, some of it is justified.

The reason I picked this up was an interest in reading Hercules's labors, which I have in Graves's GREEK MYTHOLOGY on my desk, a site I have avoided as it is overgrown with detritus. Ferry is in the midst of a project of which this volume is one part; overall--and certainly in this book, he strives to present a shift from the religious qualities of Greek myth (Hesiod) to what I would call a secular
The Greek myths have always been fascinating to me, full of interesting characters and compelling stories. Ferry recounts these myths with a mind toward tracing the roots of Greek philosophy in Greek myth. He puts forth that, despite the proliferation of gods and goddesses, supernatural creatures and events, the myths are actually a blueprint for a "secular spirituality" in which humans must conquer the fear of mortality in order to live properly without recourse to a god.

An interesting read th
Sharon Chance
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
The title of this book is very misleading. I would have called it "Greek Mythology; a brief introduction". I think this sums the book up. I was excited at the start when he goes into a little of the prescription for a good life based upon the mythology of the Greeks and then......well we have an overview of certain myths in which he alludes now and again to exactly the same point he made at the beginning. Don't get me wrong he is knowlegable, a good writer, but this book does not do as it says i ...more
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a sweeping analysis of the philosophy in story form--Greek mythology!

The ideal (purpose) is to live in one's 'natural orbit' of homeland and family, the place mortals are to occupy. Hermes (Mercury), as an symbol, invents the lyre for cosmic harmony in the dynamics between the Apollonian (measured) and the Dionysiac (ecstasy,epiphany): the reconquest of Lost Harmony is the wisdom of Odysseus. See also: Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: Or, Cosmos and History

Luc Ferry writes th
Carol Waller
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essay, mythology
I will say that you should probably read A Brief History of Thought first. But it was a good book discussing viewing the Greek myths without the lens of Western/Christian bias. Don't skip the retelling of the stories, even if you know them by heart. He drops many comments and analysis in with the tales. My only annoyance was overuse of the word decimate - for a book on historical stories, I would liked 1) to be used correctly and 2) occasionally see annihilate or destroy or wipe out' ...more
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Overall an entertaining read.

I was struck by how our worldview is governed by elements that derive from the Greek Myths. For instance there is the eternal conflict between an approach that is rational, civilized and harmonious--that of the god Apollo; and an approach that is wild, fantastical and more in touch with nature--that of the god Dionysus.

The book reminds us that the best direction to have in life is to embrace these two approaches lest a perfectly balanced and harmonious world becomes
rated it liked it
Apr 26, 2015
Oct 30, 2013 rated it liked it
I got this as a Goodreads Giveaway back in November. I was instantly intrigued by the subject matter but I have found the author's voice a bit dry. I'm only a little ways in because I keep pushing it to the bottom of the pile. While it does help to give a better understanding of the worldview of the ancient Greeks and how their myths reflect that. It has also been helpful when ready other Greek literature such as the plays of Euripides or the Odyssey.
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este livro é fascinante porque nos leva a compreender a vida e a questionar uma série de premissas pela óptica dos contos mitológicos.
Até que ponto não somos realmente fruto da criação dos deuses (sim, plural), cada um com os seus motivos (obscuros ou não) para nos usar?
Dá uma perspectiva diferente sobre os mitos (serão mesmo mitos ou realidade?) mas com uma abordagem psicológica e filosófica que nos deixa a pensar, o que eu acho óptimo num livro.
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fairly detailed overview of Greek mythology as a whole, I found this book enjoyable and highly informative. I know the author was trying to stick to the oldest origins/sources of myths wherever possible, but perhaps the book could have been enriched by more incorporation of Greek tragedy, and the philosophy underlying such creations? Overall a good read with lots of interesting tidbits and fun facts.
Mary Beth
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Ferry’s interpretations of classical myths as speaking to what it means to live in a secular world are provocative and often profoundly affecting. He can be a bit repetitive, but his insights are bracing, shedding fresh light on these familiar stories and expounding on secular humanism with infectious passion.
May 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one wasn't as good as the first one but it's still interesting since greak and roman mythology matters for me. Still, i'm waiting the next one of the series, it's so rare to find someone interesting, not just a "bankable author".
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Luc Ferry (born January 1, 1951) is a French philosopher and a notable proponent of Secular Humanism. He is a former member of the Saint-Simon Foundation think-tank.

He received an Agrégation de philosophie (1975), a Doctorat d’Etat en science politique (1981), and an Agrégation de science politique (1982). As a Professor of political science and political philosophy, Luc Ferry taught at the Instit