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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

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,365 Ratings  ·  73 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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Doreen Petersen
Apr 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Not the sort of book I would usually read but I figured I'd give it a try. If you like to read about ancient Greece and Rome then this is the book for you but unfortunately it really didn't impress me that much.
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Excellent quality Project Gutenberg ebook:

It's a keeper for reference.
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
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.
Aug 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Not dry or well referenced enough for a textbook and not written in flowery enough prose for an amusement.
Eddie Galarza
Greece is the cradle of Western civilization. Even after thousands of years our culture and society continues to be heavily influenced by the beliefs, myths and legends of these ancient peoples. For that reason, once upon a time the educational system in the United States included formal instruction about the classics, and in his desire to provide students with a concise volume on this subject, E.M. Berens penned this work. In it you will read about the origin of the gods, their quarrels, love a ...more
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, adult
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.
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011, mythology
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.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good for general reference, for general audiences. The author warns in the preface that he tried to make make the narratives palatable to children... which means many of the troubling events are glossed over or described as "joined in marriage" or "became united to". Sometimes the crimes are implied or alluded to, but it would make a good introduction to the stories for children, and a good jumping off point for adults, augmented by a further search through not so abridged versions.
Kathi Olsen
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting stories, but the beginning was a little confusing trying to keep everyone straight. Felt like I needed to see a pedigree chart. Read it in portions rather than straight through
Oct 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Great overview of all the Greek myths and legends
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
Deion Stewart
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I rated Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by E.M. Berens a four out of five stars because it gave me a different perspective of Greek mythology. Other book about Greek mythology throw facts at the reader. This book however gave me the facts of Greek mythology but also the background and origins of Greek myths. They were able to tell me about Greek Gods and Goddesses, their origins, and the unique characteristic that each one possessed. Unlike other books they gave two different perspe ...more
Sep 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, non-fiction
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"
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 26, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
More of a documentary than tales...

A good overview of the many legendary characters and their deeds with additional comments to help make the various links and highlight inconsistencies. My only reservation is the tendency to treat all legends as myths whereas many were probably distortions of actual events in the distant past.
Nikki J
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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.
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 03, 2012 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.
Andrew G
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I probably would have added religious practices to the title. I was hoping more for story form and found an overview of gods, goddesses, demi-gods, and how they were worshipped. Still, it was very insightful.
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
There are many gods and goddesses, as well as heroes and mortals. To keep track of them and their story lines are nearly impossible. This book has a simple and clean writing style, giving the basic outlines of events and characters. It is a good reference book but hard to read as a narrative.
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“Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night), who formed a striking contrast to the cheerful light of heaven and the bright smiles of earth. Erebus reigned in that mysterious world below where no ray of sunshine, no gleam of daylight, nor vestige of health-giving terrestrial life ever appeared. Nyx, the sister of Erebus, represented Night, and was worshipped by the ancients with the greatest solemnity.” 0 likes
“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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