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Victoria Reads Books

Global citizen, adventurer, ponderer. Lover of coffee, books, and the Oxford comma. Infected by wanderlust, enchanted by stories. Might occasionally be a photo blog.

Currently reading

Jane Austen
Progress: 230/412 pages
Le Petit Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Eight Great Comedies
Sylvan Barnet, Morton Berman, William Burton
The Longman Anthology of Short Fiction, Compact Edition: Stories and Authors in Context
Dana Gioia, R.S. Gwynn
Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy, Louise Maude, Aylmer Maude, E.B. Greenswood
Mythology - Steele Savage, Edith Hamilton It is important to first note that Hamilton's Mythology is a good friend of mine. Within the past four years, we've spent a lot of time together. Essentially a textbook for two classes that I've taken (Latin and Classical Civilizations), and the required text for a multitude of contests and competitions that I've participated in, I know the classical myths in Mythology inside and out, and have quite a bit of affection for them.

This book serves its purpose well- it gives a good introduction and the essential facts of many mythological tales. It combines the works of many of the ancient writers in such a way as to effectively show the multiple variants of the same myth. It is very accessible and provides a good background for those who are interested in Greek and Roman mythology, but do not necessarily want to wade through the ancient texts. Mythology does an excellent job of sourcing the works that are used, so a reader seeking a more detailed telling will know where to look. The family trees provided at the back of the book are exceedingly helpful as well.

This book, admittedly, does not contain spectacular prose, but is clear, concise, and very readable. The coverage is good (in terms of the classical mythology), and it can be quite entertaining (mostly due to Hamilton's bias against certain authors, but still...).

I do not have a great deal of knowledge of Norse mythology, but that section felt a bit randomly tacked on at the end of the book.

The following are quotations that I find amusing- Hamilton really enjoys bashing Ovid (who I have nothing against, but I find Hamilton's comments hilarious).

In the myth of Daedalus:

"Ovid's account shows him at his worst, sentimental and exclamatory."


"Ovid's tale is good only occasionally... as in the description of the boar, he is so exaggerated, he verges on ridiculous. Apollodorus is not picturesque, but he is never absurd."

The Royal House of Athens

"Ovid... is sometimes inconceivably bad. He describes in fifteen long lines... exactly how Philomela's tongue was cut out and what it looked like as it lay "palpitating" on the earth where Tereus had flung it. The Greek poets were not given to such details, but the Latin had no manner of objection to them."

Overall, if you seek general knowledge on a wide range of classical myths, I would recommend giving this book a try.