Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold

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UK 1st Edition hardcover.

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold is a book about Greek mythology written by Stephen Fry first published on 2017-11-02. In the book, Fry tells the bulk of the Greek religious stories, includes variants, and discusses how they still apply to modern day language and culture.

I started this book not only because I wanted to learn more about Greek mythology, but also because I love Stephen Fry's work.

Status

I don't own this book, but I am listening to an audio book.

Review

Good

  • Stephen Fry is quite witty all throughout the book.
  • I enjoy how Fry explains how various words, phrases, and later cultural elements are based on the various names of the divine beings in Greek mythology.
  • Fry does a great job performing the audiobook.

Bad

  • Most of the stories aren't interesting, which isn't Fry's fault; he had to work with poor source material. The characters in Greek mythology (gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines alike) are monstrous people (rapists, murderers, spiteful, jealous, juvenile, etc.). The stories that aren't disjointed and macabre are childish just-so fairy tales. How many times will the supposedly hyper-intelligent gods fall for the "promise to grant my wish before I tell you what it is," trick? How many times will mortals challenge a god at a task knowing full-well the gods won't follow the rules and will exact horrific punishment on them when they lose? I just don't get much enjoyment out of the stories, even when jazzed up by Fry.
  • Fry incorrectly states that there is evidence for a near-global flood, which is why both the Greeks and Hebrews have a deluge myth around the same time. While Christian apologists no doubt love this statement, there isn't actually any geological evidence that this such a flood ever happened. A much more reasonable explanation is that floods are a common natural disaster, and even an average-sized flood would seem to cover the whole world to ancient people. He makes several other suggestions about the stories having some truth to them, or feature strange coincidences, which I know he doesn't mean because he's a staunch atheist, which makes the tongue-in-cheek suggestions a bit annoying.
  • Fry tends to romanticize a bit more than is necessary. For example, he acknowledges that some historians have suggested that the author who originally came up with Argus having 100 eyes may have been speaking metaphorically — as in, he was so perceptive, it was as though he had 100 eyes — but then refuses to accept this and says resolutely that the author intended to mean he had 100 eyes all over his body, I'm assuming because it makes the story more interesting.
  • Fry uses a fair amount of anachronisms having the gods use modern phrases and idioms. He mostly does this for comedic effect, but a lot of the jokes didn't land with me.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Media

Links

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