Review: Mythology

TITLE: Mythology
AUTHOR: Edith Hamilton
PUBLICATION: 2011 by Grand Central Publishing
FORMAT: Paperback


Since its original publication by Little, Brown & Company in 1942, this author’s Mythology has sold millions of copies throughout the world & established itself as a perennial bestseller in its various available formats. Mythology succeeds like no other book in bringing to life for the modern reader the Greek, Roman & Norse myths & legends that are the keystone of Western culture – the stories of gods & heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiquity to the present.



I’m not entirely sure I like these oversized books that my particular edition happens to be. Still I was on the lookout for a decent book on mythology, and didn’t much care for the one I read in the past aimed at a YA audience. I guess seeing the words “the classic bestseller” plastered across the cover helped to make up my mind in addition to the table of contents.

One of the things that I liked about this book was the way that Ms. Hamilton set up her recounting of the myths with explanations of where the particular versions came from that she was using in the chapters. I for one liked having the reasons why some poets/storytellers were used rather than others and whether or not the myths were combinations of information from various sources or a single individual. I also loved that the chapters didn’t just offer one version of events for the tales either. For example, we see both positive and negative light shed upon Jason in his treatment of Medea at the end of their tragic story.

Although it seems to me that titling this collection Mythology is a bit overreaching, I think, as it only covers Greek, Roman, and a little bit of Norse mythos. Wouldn’t a more appropriate title have been European Mythology since it doesn’t explore other regions? Personally I would have liked to see more treatment given to the Norse myths if one chooses to include them at all. Still I cannot lament the fact too much as I now have a book devoted to Norse myths sitting on my shelf and I can research them in that volume.

I did think that it was an entertaining read, however. I spent a lot of time off and on reading this particular volume since it’s just that kind of book one can read. I think it’s a good choice for someone interested in Greek mythology as it is pretty extensive on that particular subject.



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