Long-time ago, by that, I mean really long time ago, as there was no science and not much knowledge, the Greeks would give explanations of all the things that happen with the stories of gods and goddesse. ‘There is a lot of thunder in the sky, looks like Zeus had a quarrel with his brother, again’
But they are not just stories, something more. The larger than life characters and wonderous tale made them alive even after hundreds of years. The complexity and intensity of Greek mythology stay in mind. Without further ado, here are the 10 books you should read if you are interested in Greek mythology.
1. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton
Considering that this book was published in 1942 and still managed its way to this list should mean that it is something. Hamilton retells the major myths of the Greek masterfully and gives an overview of their all main heroes and deities. The clear and lucid combined with evocative and poetic style is an ideal style for the heart and the head.
2. The Complete World of Greek Mythology by Richard Buxton
Perfect as a newbie-friendly, the book is comfortable for everyone because of 330 illustrations which include 139 in colour. These pictures cover a wide range from artefacts from ancient to classic paintings of scenes from the Greek mythology to photos of Greek landscapes.
3. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
If you want to introduce Greek mythology and interesting facts to your children, this books is perfect. It has simple and clear writing style along with colourful and evocative illustrations. In addition to that, it will kindle the imagination of your kids. Besides the fact that it published decades ago in 1962 and yet enjoyed means that it is really good.
4. The Iliad by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles
Stepping in the world of Greek Mythology, you would immediately be introduced by Homer’s two masterpieces Iliad and Odyssey. Homer- also one of the greatest poets- tell great tales from the mythology in his poems.
Iliad tells about the famous tale of Helen- the most beautiful women who walked on Earth, abducted by one of the Trojans which leads to a big war.
5. The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles
The second epic of Homer starts where ‘Iliad’ leaves off. Troy has been conquered, but for one of the Odysseus, one of the heroes of the victorious army these still left many wars of great trials left before he can get back to his wife Penelope and son Telemachus.
6. Theogony by Hesiod, translated by M.L. West
Theogony means genesis of gods. This book is one of the main sources of ancient Greek mythology, the narratives and point by point structure which is enjoyed immensely for modern retellings. M.L. West gave the easiest translation of the books with poetic richness.
7. The Library of Greek Mythology by Apollodorus, translated by Robin Hard
As the name suggests, this is the only survived book that has the comprehensive amount of almost all if not all of the Greek mythology. This book has been one of the most helpful pieces to glue all the known Greek mythology.
8. Greek Religion by Walter Burkert
The single and best book on the topic. The books focus mostly on the Greek religion than mythology. Equally important, it covers the comprehensive account of deities, rituals, sanctuaries, theology, the ideal of heroism, views on death and afterlife and more.
9. The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology by Pierre Grimal
Reading J.R.R. Tolkien one may come across many bewildered proper nouns, places and characters. All of those and many others if you are really interested or doing a formal study on Greek mythology would be answered in The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology.
10. Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths by Lawrence J. Hatab
Perfect for those with intellectual interest, Myth and Philosophy illuminates the early Greek myth and religion from a philosophical standpoint. That includes what myth is, with an implicit theory of knowledge. Hence, This book is the transformation of myth to philosophy.