If you want to get into Greek Mythology but you are not sure where to start, then Mythos by Stephen Fry is the perfect book for you. Mythos begins with the beginning of the universe and then retells the myths of all of the gods and goddesses you should know in Greek mythology in a really engaging, and entertaining way. Fry has managed to retell the Greek myths in a somewhat linear way, and he has added his own flair and enjoyable writing style to these well-loved stories.
Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry is his first book in his Greek Mythology series. Stephen Fry has compiled the core myths from Greek mythology, beginning with the cosmogony or creation of the universe with the protogenoi or primordial god Chaos who was quickly followed by Gaia (Earth), Tartarus (the depths), Erebus (darkness), Nyx (night), Hemera (day), and Aether (light). Fry does a wonderful job conveying the beginning of existence and then moves through the development of the world with the Titans, the Olympian gods, the nymphs, the lesser gods, and all other divine beings.
The Greeks created gods that were in their image; warlike but creative, wise but ferocious, loving but jealous, tender but brutal, compassionate, but vengeful. (ix)
Any colloquialisms & quips added into these stories by Fry is simply a continuation of a 3000-year-long tradition.
Fry does an exceptional job at creating a somewhat linear narrative for all of these myths that were undoubtedly collected from numerous ancient sources and authors. After introducing the main gods and their stories, Fry takes us through many of Zeus‘ conquests, stories of divine revenge and retribution, and popular stories featuring our Olympian gods. There are a lot of retellings in the world, but this one is by far one of the most entertaining ones I have read. The thing about myths is that even in the ancient world, they were adapted and changed, so any colloquialisms and quips added into these stories by Fry is simply a continuation of a 3000-year-long tradition. Fry comments at the end of his book that great ancient writers like Ovid (43 BCE to 17 CE) took creative license to these stories, and this fact emboldened him to be as imaginative as he wanted in his retellings.
Overall I greatly enjoyed Fry’s tone and writing style. He has rewritten these stories in a lighthearted way, adding in dialogue and mannerisms that he thinks fit but without losing the essence of the myth or the heart of the story. I would say that this compilation of myths would be a wonderful place to start for people looking to familiarise themselves with the gods of Greek mythology but do not want to dive into Hesiod or Pseudo-Apollodorus just yet. You will undoubtedly leave this book with a detailed overview of the foundation myths and beliefs of the ancient Greeks, and you will definitely enjoy the ride. I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of footnotes about Greek myth in William Shakespeare’s work.
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