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Greek Mythology (Paperback)

Gods and Heroes Brought to Life

Ancient History P&S History

By Robert Garland
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 35 integrated black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526776549
Published: 18th November 2020
Last Released: 21st September 2022



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Greek mythology isn’t the equivalent of the Bible or the Qur’an. There is no standardized version of any myth. Myths aren’t sacred. Whether you happen to be Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides or any other Greek, or even you or me, every myth is yours to tell and interpret any way you like.

Just to give one example. An oracle has decreed that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother. In Homer’s version, Oedipus carries on ruling in Thebes when he discovers he has fulfilled the oracle, whereas in the version that Sophocles gives us in his play Oedipus the King, Oedipus blinds himself and goes into voluntary exile. That said, certain details are unalterable. Oedipus has to be ignorant of the fact that the man whom he kills is his father and that the woman whom he marries is his mother; he has to fulfil the awful prophecy of the oracle; and he has to come to a realisation of what he has done afterwards. But everything else is pretty much up for grabs.

Greek mythology is very much alive and well in the contemporary world. There are many narrative versions of the myths currently available, but this book will do something very different: it will give the characters the chance to tell their stories in their own words. In so doing, it will give both gods and humans the opportunity to reflect upon their life stories and, in places, justify their actions. In this way they will come across as real people, just as they are, say, in the plays of the dramatists.

Greek Mythology: Gods and Heroes Brought to Life is a must-read for anyone interested in Greek mythology. Garland's innovative approach offers a fresh take on these classic stories, making them more accessible and engaging than ever before.

NetGalley, Rahel Charikar

I've searched for a book on mythology that is easy to read and makes the gods interesting enough to remember. I wanted to be able to answer the Jeopardy questions and this book made it possible. This author picked about 40 of the more notable gods and gives stories that are believable and easy to read. I enjoyed that narrative of the Gods themselves. A good table of contents lets you skip and choose the god you are interested in and the chapter is short and sweet so you can lay it down without having to review when you pick it up again. Older teens and adults will find this an easy read and it will keep your interest.

NetGalley, Ann Klausing

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have always loved the Greek myths and this compendium is one of the best books on the subject. I learned an enormous amount and it was always fun, lively and absorbing.

NetGalley, Tom Muir

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A unique look at Greek Mythology, told from the perspective of those at the forefront of each story. This book is engaging and entertaining.

NetGalley, Dannielle Fletcher

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Princess Fuzzypants here: Cheeky. Irreverent. Saucy and a touch ribald. This is Greek Mythology with a twist of humour. Told in the first person, god or hero, the individual in the myth tells the tale from their own subjective point of view. And boy, do they tell it like it was. It reads a bit like a “roast” and no one from Zeus on down is spared the wicked wit.

Probably this book would be enjoyed more if the reader is someone with a previous knowledge of the stories through more traditional sources. It is definitely not a book for children. All others will be entertained as the characters explain their victories and defeats from their perspective. It is a fun, light read.

Five purrs and two paws up.

NetGalley, Susan Johnston

A great way to introduce teenagers (or even just interested adults) to the magical world of Greek Mythology.

Over 30 figures are explained in a few pages. Everything is very easy to read and is almost like a mini autobiography - each is "narrated" by the character involved. There is plenty of humour as they share their plight with you!

The author shows that there are many versions of these myths - some vary over time and others from area to area, so there is no true, definitive version.

I hated leaving all these well-loved and well-known figure to venture back to reality!

NetGalley, Nicola Brooks

The tales of Greek mythology are legend and have different interpretations depending on the writer at the time. What Garland has done is to try to write a very accessible introduction to these tales. The stories are often in the first person and with a very modern inflexion which makes the stories easy to read.

NetGalley, Jo-anne Atkinson

Greek Mythology, Gods and Heroes Brought to Life – by Robert Garland is an easy to read piece book that summarises 39 characters from Greek Mythology. The author very neatly presents several stories for each character over 4 or 5 pages, it’s very easy to read and like some another author I have read recently on this subject (such as Stephen Fry), there is a good dollop of humour. There is something about these characters that does engender humorous perspective and I did have the odd chuckle.

There is no escaping the amount of enjoyment these characters and their stories are providing me, the more I read the same stories, by different sources, the more enjoyable they become. Perhaps a bit like a 5-year-old wanting his or her Mum and Dad to read Three Little Pigs or Goldilocks and the Three Bears for the 1000th time.

The author makes the point in his introduction that “Greek Mythology is not equivalent to the Bible or the Qur’an or the Hindu Bhagavad Gita in the respect of not being as sacred (perhaps back in the day they were though – ‘my words’). For example, the incorrigible Zeus doesn’t have the same religious significance to Greeks as Jesus for Christians”. But to re-iterate the point, I am sure these Gods were VERY sacred back in antiquity, you just need to read the importance the Greeks and Romans placed on their Gods (e.g. Zeus/Greeks, Jupiter/Romans) – the author clearly means, ‘contemporary’ sanctity.

Garland does make the point there are no standardised versions of these myths, they are stories. The sources are therefore a ‘hotchpotch’ of highly unrepresentative writings over a period of well over a thousand years. Indeed, the small handful of authors I have read on this subject, such as McCullough, Fry and now Garland – all seem to put their own spin on these stories.

Either way, these stories are great and getting better. The characters are also growing in my mind and seem to stay with me and drop into my mind throughout my day. Zeus sometimes says hello, probably transformed into an E. coli under the microscope, Perseus hides behind a maiden hair fern with his shiny shield and scythe, Athena’s voice whispers into my ear as I’m walking Pup and Aphrodite, as a beautiful Sunbird, flits about the garden while I have my cuppa and ginger nut.

These characters endure.

Perseus is now probably my favourite – this will change no doubt. His bravery when confronting the petrifying Medusa is nothing short of heroic, he also shows incredible resourcefulness – under pressure. I do have a soft spot for Zeus though. Oh, by the way, the author litters this book with cool, simple drawings of the characters and some of the dramas – it’s a nice touch.

Thank you, Mr Garland, – now back to reality.

4 Stars

NetGalley, Mark Porton

The idea to revisit Greek myths giving voice to the characters is very interesting. In this way the stories become more real and it is a great way to see them under a new light. Some of them are even very funny and full of sarcasm and this is very important because the characters look less like distant gods or heroes and more like people with something to tell.

NetGalley, Sara Zaninelli

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is a masterpiece. A real introduction into Greek mythology for beginners. Loved this book so much.

NetGalley, Shroo Raj

Greek Mythology: Gods and Heroes Brought to Life was a very short, yet detailed and intresting read!

I was so positively surprised to hear all the stories from the gods and heroes' perspective. It was a really unique way to retell the Greek myths and this is something what I really missed in Greek myths, a very personal approach! I also found the smaller deities' stories incredibly interesting - we don't hear abobut them a lot (almost never), so that was very a fantastic decision to include them in the stories too.

The language was very colloquial and honest, but that was a big advantage of the book It made the characters' stories more personal and funny and not so dull as we usually experience in classical retellings of the myths.

The book is a fantastic choice for all the Greek mythology geeks out there! You won't be disappointed!

NetGalley, Aleksandra Lakus

The lively, pithy writing brings the characters to life and the quirky illustrations are a great addition to the narrative. I am the first to admit that Greek Myths can be rather dry but this lighthearted romp is both memorable and eminently readable. The first person narrative and the fact that the Gods and Heroes featured just came out with what they were thinking was a stroke of genius. It's very much a refreshingly original take on renowned myths and an amusing read that is well worth your time if you're a fan of Greek Myths. Garland manages to simultaneously keep elements of the old whilst also bringing the stories up to date. Highly recommended.

NetGalley, Lou @readers_retreat

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is so much fun. I can't even think of it without laughing to myself. Told from the point of view of various gods and characters, "Greek Mythology" gives an interesting (and fun... Did I say fun already?!) perspective to the myths. It is brilliantly written, and I would recommend it for absolutely anyone over the age of 18. I think I'm going to go now and read this again!

NetGalley, Dawn Lewis

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Greek Mythology and have read so many book relating to it, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed this book.
So this is an anthology of all the Greek myths we know and love with a bit of a twist, they are all written from the point of view of the gods. A first person narrative isn't something I have come across when it comes to a collection of myths, and it was quiet a refreshing change. The changing narrative is cleverly done between each character and real personalities start to develop for each character... I also found this book very witty and I did laugh out loud at some points. Garland has done a great job of pulling in modern colloquialisms to bring these old myths into the 21st century.

All in all a great book on Greek Mythology with a funny twist.

NetGalley, Kirsty Titterton

I have always been a lover of Greek Mythology and this book did not disappoint. Any lover of mythology will most likely already know the classics but having them retold in the point of view of the Gods/Godesses/Demi-Gods point of views was a point of genius in my opinion.

NetGalley, Sophie Spooner

A useful and memorable summary of Greek mythology, a great primer, and much less dry than Appollodorus’ Library. ⁣

NetGalley, Amaris Lee

I have always been interested in mythology and really enjoyed reading this book, I found it full of information and recommend to all.

NetGalley, Shelly Myers

I love Greek mythology, so it was kind of hard for me to not like this book. I loved the idea of telling the stories in first person, bringing us closer to the characters we know so well, but have never met this way and I appreciated the little instances of modern humour.

NetGalley, Ami Campillo

I've been a fan of Greek myths since I was a tween and always enjoy reading modern interpretations when they come out.

As someone well versed in Greek mythology, none of the stories here were new to me, but what I did enjoy was that each tale narrated by the goddess, god or demi-god themselves.

There are notable first person POV from Achilles and Odysseus and characters generally not as well known or famous like Psyche and Ismene, or disregarded like Penelope, long suffering wife of Odysseus.

Reading from their perspectives (as well as their snarky and amusing comments) was fun and engaging.

I also enjoyed the illustrations; they had an old school sketch vibe going on that worked well with the tone of the stories.

This would be a great introductory book for anyone unfamiliar with Greek mythology, looking for a different perspective in these incredible stories that still resonate in our modern world.

NetGalley, Elaine L

Mythology – Provides a language for exploring the meaning of life and the terms of human existence without reference to some transcendent power or overarching plan. It is the product of the culture where knowledge is transmitted orally.

This book is about Greek Mythology, but with a twist. All the Greek Gods and Heroes from Zeus, Artemis, Orion, Apollo, Hermes, Perseus, to Pan, Dionysus, Ariadne, Heracles, Prometheus, Jason, Atlanta, Achilles, Cassandra, Plato, Helen etc are brought to life.

All the characters mentioned in this book are given a chance to narrate stories in their own words. In doing so, all the Gods and Heroes are able to reflect upon their lives and talk about it from their point of view. This book presents all their narrative versions to the readers who enjoy Greek Mythology.

Rating – 4/5 Stars
Recommendation – High


This book takes us through the journey of all the characters in Greek Mythology classified and Gods and Heroes. It is amazing to read from all their point of view and the author has done a lovely job in bringing all these characters to life. The book has a fine twist with illustrations from the author. In his writing, all the characters are made to feel like they are real people.

NetGalley, Prarthana N

This book is very good for someone wanting to learn more about Greek mythology.

NetGalley, Saffron Melnyk

About Robert Garland

Robert Garland was the Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics at Colgate University, where he taught for 30 years. He attended drama school before completing his Ph.D. at University College London. He has recorded five courses for The Great Courses and written two videos for TED Animation. Robert has published 13 academic books on Greek and Roman history, and has recently finished a comic historical novel. He considers his most important contribution to the discipline to have been to identify categories of people who have been generally overlooked or marginalised in conventional accounts of ancient history, such as the disabled and refugees. He is the author of How To Survive in Ancient Greece and Greek Mythology: Gods and Heroes Brought to Life, also published by Pen & Sword. He is a practising artist.

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