Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece

Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece

The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry's hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry...

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Title:Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece
Author:Stephen Fry
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece Reviews

  • Trish

    I first heard of Stephen Fry many years ago, have since watched him debate with the Church and wander through dense jungles trying to find nearly extinct animals, listened to him bring one of my favourite magical worlds to life, and learned a great deal from him on what must be one of the best quiz shows on (British) television. Not to mention his influence on LGBTQ rights and the acceptance of mental health issues (he himself is suffering from at least one). He's been on radio programs, televis

    I first heard of Stephen Fry many years ago, have since watched him debate with the Church and wander through dense jungles trying to find nearly extinct animals, listened to him bring one of my favourite magical worlds to life, and learned a great deal from him on what must be one of the best quiz shows on (British) television. Not to mention his influence on LGBTQ rights and the acceptance of mental health issues (he himself is suffering from at least one). He's been on radio programs, television shows, and in movies. He knows so much about almost everything, out of a natural curiosity, and had a very ... interesting ... childhood/life so far.

    In short: the man is a national and international treasure and I'm a total fangirl. *swoons* Naturally, he is not without fault, but that - in a very ironic twist of fate - makes him so PERFECT a man to retell the Ancient Greek Myths.

    After all, if one looks at all the groups of gods from around the world and all kinds of eras, they are all flawed - but none more so than the Greeks with all their debaucheries (and, by extent, the Roman ones but they are mostly a copy of the Greek pantheon anyway).

    Funnily enough, the publication of

    this year coincides (and I'm told it really was a coincidence albeit a fortunate one) with the publication of Gaiman's retelling of the Norse myths. Thus, I now have TWO wonderful tomes detailing the essentials of two cultural influences on what is nowadays Europe (the name itself was taken from Greek mythology).

    The Greek culture (city states, first democracy, the victory over the Persians and thus Islam, their type of warfare, ...) is the root of almost all the European countries today and one can see it in many instances. Moreover, the Greek pantheon is probably the most well-known one. Many artists have immortalized the birth of Aphrodite (Venus) or the love between Amor and Psyche or Apollo driving his sun chariot across the sky or Zeus imprisoning the Titans.

    As is also typical for mythology, the myths explained seemingly unexplainable happenings back in the day while the gods showed the characteristics one could observe in any human.

    Fry cannot retell ALL the myths that have survived, of course, but he managed the almost Herculean task (see what I did there? :P) of selecting the ones for his book perfectly and not only bringing the myths to life with his incomparable voice (I listened to the audio because I can never resist the man), but to also retell the stories in a way that is simultaneously modern and tasteful - which makes this book so appealing. He seamlessly weaves in references to pop culture, literature and music (modern and classic) and modern politics, explains linguistic roots as well as the naming of many a constellation and elements and therefore gives a detailed but never boring lesson about why the Greek myths matter so much, even to this day. In doing so, he gives us a history of ourselves, where we come from, what shaped us.

    We start at the beginning, the creation myth (from Chaos to order) and then move on to the Titans.

    From there, it's only a small step to Zeus and his siblings overthrowing their parental generation and establishing/ruling Olympus and Hades, after which we humans are created. After that, the fun really begins! We are being introduced to the muses (after one of which - Thalia - I was named),

    monsters, heroes, gods, demi-gods, nymphs, centaurs, satyrs and all the rest that make up this colorful and vivid world.

    We learn about family relations, rewards and punishments (often it isn't even clear what is what). We learn about the comical stuff as much as about the drama, the wonderful stories as much as the horrible ones. Naturally, it will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever heard a Greek myth that most catastrophes are started by the Olympians getting up to no good (often in form of raping an immortal of some kind or a man or a women - female and male gods alike were quite indifferent to whether or not you wanted to be their consorts). The message clearly being that as a mortal you could only lose (even rape victims were the blamed parties and got punished by other, jealous, gods). What is the most interesting and satisfying aspect about this, however, is how timeless these stories are and how much they still translate to modern problems (believe it or not, the rape or seduction was often only the beginning, setting the stage to a whole world of other plots). I guess we haven't evolved all that much after all.

    Neil Gaiman was asked, after the publication of his book about Norse myths, if he would do another one about a different pantheon and he declined, saying that the Norse mythology was where his heart lay and any work about any other would therefore not be adequate. I firmly believe it's the same with Stephen Fry and Greek mythology (although greedy little bookworm as I am, I do want moremoremore).

    I cannot recommend this book enough as it is as vibrant as the Greek pantheon itself and Fry is not only very knowledgeable in the myths themselves but also in languages (that were greatly influenced by these myths) and history in general and you can feel the author's passion for these myths, his enthusiasm therefore being infectious. Moreover, he has a unique way of knowing just when and how to make you laugh, giving the overall retelling a lightness despite the heaviness of some stories.

    I am both enchanted and delighted and would even recommend this book before one of the classic sources like Bullfinch (in fact, I hope very much that THIS will also become one such classic over time).

  • Margaret

    At a time when other children had their mothers reading "Sleeping Beauty" and "Little Red Riding Hood" to them, my father was telling me the story of the abduction of Persephone with his own adornments (I particularly liked the squirrels wondering why she was picking flowers instead of nuts).

    I bring this up so you understand that I was exposed to the Greek myths at a young age. Once I was able to read I got my hands on Bullfinch's Mythology and Robert Graves rather interesting two volume offerin

    At a time when other children had their mothers reading "Sleeping Beauty" and "Little Red Riding Hood" to them, my father was telling me the story of the abduction of Persephone with his own adornments (I particularly liked the squirrels wondering why she was picking flowers instead of nuts).

    I bring this up so you understand that I was exposed to the Greek myths at a young age. Once I was able to read I got my hands on Bullfinch's Mythology and Robert Graves rather interesting two volume offering.

    Stephen Fry now sits, in my mind, with these giants of Greek mythology. His retelling of many of the stories, especially the origins of the gods, is simply delightful. His love for the subject just shines through, and he has a deft hand with gentle sarcastic observances and natty oneliners.

    If I have to pick a favourite story it would have to be the birth of Hermes. And not just because Hermes has always been my favourite.

    I now have a question for Stephen. When is he going to retell the Iliad?

  • Bradley

    I don't know about any of you, but this one's a winner. Far from feeling like another dry recounting of a number of our favorite Greek myths, Fry's down-to-earth humor and traditional (modern) storytelling have turned these gods into something most relatable.

    I've read Edith Hamilton and Bullfinch's recountings and I've had the pleasure of countless other sources, but here's where Fry shines: he cherry-picks the very best stories and tells them so charmingly and naturally that I wouldn't be surpr

    I don't know about any of you, but this one's a winner. Far from feeling like another dry recounting of a number of our favorite Greek myths, Fry's down-to-earth humor and traditional (modern) storytelling have turned these gods into something most relatable.

    I've read Edith Hamilton and Bullfinch's recountings and I've had the pleasure of countless other sources, but here's where Fry shines: he cherry-picks the very best stories and tells them so charmingly and naturally that I wouldn't be surprised if most people would go out of their way to start their friends and family out with this, first.

    He does sacrifice breadth in favor of depth, but of course, that's a fine thing. These are some of the most amazing stories of the bunch. They're all told with intelligence, heart, and humor.

    Do I have a man-crush? Maybe. A little. But Fry has always been charming as hell. A must-read!

  • Jake

    This was by far the easiest 5 stars I have had the pleasure to give in quite a while. It is one of the very few books I would read again.

    Mythos is fascinating from start to finish. I have attempted to get into numerous mythology books before (yes even Edith Hamilton) and struggled. Stephen Fry has made these captivating stories into a very readable and even hilarious style. He has made each God not only memorable, but also much easier to obtain a deeper insight into what each God stands for. He

    This was by far the easiest 5 stars I have had the pleasure to give in quite a while. It is one of the very few books I would read again.

    Mythos is fascinating from start to finish. I have attempted to get into numerous mythology books before (yes even Edith Hamilton) and struggled. Stephen Fry has made these captivating stories into a very readable and even hilarious style. He has made each God not only memorable, but also much easier to obtain a deeper insight into what each God stands for. He does not pull any punches or wrap any stories in bubble-wrap, the vengeful wrath of each God is explained in full detail, yet he still manages to put the typical Fry charisma into each one.

    One thing I was not prepared for when starting this book is the vast amount I would learn from it. Not just the stories but where words linking with different stories originate. I found myself constantly telling people the stories of where certain words came from, or even just how certain words relate to the stories, even if they were words before the myths. This included little interesting stories over time that have been lost in translation to this day such as Pandora's jar. These are the type of facts I thrive off and I believe anyone reading them would love them too.

    Due to the amount of Greek myths there are, Fry could not put all of them in this book. I only see that as a glimmer of hope that there will be a second. Stephen Fry, take a bow, then write the second book! Brilliant.

  • Andrea

    Once again, a BIG FAT THANK YOU to my awesome friend Bubu who send me this book via audible. THANK YOU!!! <3

    Anyways.

    Once again, a BIG FAT THANK YOU to my awesome friend Bubu who send me this book via audible. THANK YOU!!! <3

    Anyways.

    I guess you have to love this approach to enjoy this book. I certainly know enough people who want their myth with a heavy dose of judgement and "and the lesson we learn from this...", but I happen to be the exact opposite. I absolutely adored the way Fry spun stories from (sometimes) familiar stories, the way he makes them come alive without beating you about the head with a deeper meaning that you have to find.

    That being said, I absolutely LOVED immersing myself in Fry's version of (way too few, if you ask me) Greek myths. Some I knew, some where new to me. But they all fascinated me. And the way he wrote it really did make me wonder about the people who came up with these myths to begin with! That's the thing I love most about his way with words.

    He had me glued to the page/phone, chuckling, crying, sighing, and rolling my eyes at the follies of mortals and gods alike. I had the immense pleasure of both reading it AND listening to Fry read it himself. I couldn't possible say which I loved more though :)

  • Sumit Singla

    What an absolute cracker of a book!

    I love mythology. Especially Greek. AND I love Stephen Fry. This is a great combination as an audiobook. Narrated in Stephen Fry's crisp British accent (my favourite accent in the whole world) and with typical British humour and asides thrown in, this book made peak hour commutes extremely pleasant.

    If one can think of the gelding of Ouranos or the opening of Pandora's box, instead of vehicles coming right at oneself, what better can one ask for?

    The myths are de

    What an absolute cracker of a book!

    I love mythology. Especially Greek. AND I love Stephen Fry. This is a great combination as an audiobook. Narrated in Stephen Fry's crisp British accent (my favourite accent in the whole world) and with typical British humour and asides thrown in, this book made peak hour commutes extremely pleasant.

    If one can think of the gelding of Ouranos or the opening of Pandora's box, instead of vehicles coming right at oneself, what better can one ask for?

    The myths are deep, rich and sonorous. And Stephen Fry's masterful retelling makes them absolutely come alive. Greek Gods are mean, vindictive and cruel. All their external beauty and internal ugliness comes to the fore in this wonderfully narrated book. Some of the stories are relatively well-known, whereas others are a bit obscure. However, Fry does supreme justice to all of these, by spending just enough time on each story and sub-plot and making every single character come vividly alive in this book.

    If there's ONE audiobook you ought to hear, let it be this one!

    However, the Greek gods were the horniest bunch of folks ever. Gay sex, incest, infidelity & adultery - name it, and it's there. Therefore, it may not be to everyone's taste to read/hear this one.

  • Karina Read

    I loved Mythos, and Fry’s narration was superb. What makes it different from all the other Greek/Roman mythology books that I have collected over the years is the coherent chronology that Fry has achieved. By placing all the stories in context and in a timeline, the personalities and actions of the gods suddenly made sense to me. I’d often struggled to remember who was who’s relation previously but I found Mythos wonderfully easy to follow and lose myself in. I immensely enjoyed all of his aside

    I loved Mythos, and Fry’s narration was superb. What makes it different from all the other Greek/Roman mythology books that I have collected over the years is the coherent chronology that Fry has achieved. By placing all the stories in context and in a timeline, the personalities and actions of the gods suddenly made sense to me. I’d often struggled to remember who was who’s relation previously but I found Mythos wonderfully easy to follow and lose myself in. I immensely enjoyed all of his asides that link a certain story or name to contemporary society and the personal touches he adds. I’ve learned so much in an unpatronising and fun way. What a great way to keep the myths alive. This will definitely be a book I read again and again. An extremely enjoyable reading experience all round.

    The only reason I can’t give this the full 5 stars is that I cannot call this my definitive Greek mythology collection as it is missing some key stories that I was looking forward to learning more about (Icarus, Theseus, Jason, Heracles, The Iliad, The Oddessey etc..). Fry does explain at the end that had he included *all* the stories, the book would be so large that it would be unreadable. Which I totally understand, but I shall keep my fingers crossed for a part 2...

  • Cheese

    The history of greek mythology told in a long long story.

    This is the audio book and it was a challenge to finish, but interesting nonetheless.

    Stephen Fry is faultless in his narration.

  • Netta

    It is regrettable that Stephen Fry's talent to be effortlessly snobbish in a very appealing, charmingly British way, does absolutely no good to the subject of his book. The main problem with this book is that Fry's retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece is exactly what the title promises – it is the retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece with some supposedly witty (but more often irrelevant) remarks which can be easily omitted. The question is: Do we actually need one more retelling of Greek

    It is regrettable that Stephen Fry's talent to be effortlessly snobbish in a very appealing, charmingly British way, does absolutely no good to the subject of his book. The main problem with this book is that Fry's retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece is exactly what the title promises – it is the retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece with some supposedly witty (but more often irrelevant) remarks which can be easily omitted. The question is: Do we actually need one more retelling of Greek myths? No. Are we in desperate need of Fry's comments on well-known, beloved stories? The answer is, I'm afraid, no. While Neil Gaiman, writing his

    tried to make it look like a comforting fairy tale, Fry simply retold what, I daresay, has already been told rather nicely.

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