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War in Greek Mythology (Hardback)

Ancient History Military

By Paul Chrystal
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 50 colour & b/w illustrations
ISBN: 9781526766168
Published: 15th September 2020



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Even though war, and conflict generally, feature prominently in Greek mythology, comparatively little has been written on the subject. This is surprising because wars and battles in Greek mythology are freighted with symbolism and laden with meaning and significance – historical, political, social and cultural. The gods and goddesses of war are prominent members of the Greek pantheon: the battles fought by and between Olympians, Titans, giants and Amazons, between centaurs and lapiths, were pivotal in Greek civilization. The Trojan War itself had huge and far-reaching consequences for subsequent Greek culture.

The ubiquity of war themes in the Greek myths is a reflection of the prominence of war in everyday Greek life and society, which makes the relative obscurity of published literature all the more puzzling.

This book redresses this by showing how conflict in mythology and legend resonated loudly as essential, existentialist even, symbols in Greek culture and how they are represented in classical literature, philosophy, religion, feminism, art, statuary, ceramics, architecture, numismatics, etymology, astronomy, even vulcanology.

Chrystal’s dissection of Greek mythology is more than a collection of interesting and extraordinarily violent stories; he analyses their context and symbolism for a people exploring their world and searching for meaning. His focus is on the warlike aspects of the various Gods and creatures, which creates an interesting quasi-military mythological history. The myths are also reflected in artwork plates, many of them in colour, illustrating the Greek fascination with their myths that echoes through art into the modern period. The result is a fascinating trip into the Greek world both real and imagined.

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Beating Tsundoku

Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an Appendix (War Deities in Greek Mythology), nine pages of Notes, a nine page Further Reading bibliography, and a nine page Index, "War in Greek Mythology" is an extraordinary and expertly presented study that will prove to be of interest and value to students, academia, and non-specialist general readers alike.

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Midwest Book Review

This is an excellent study of the more military of the Greek myths, telling the stories while also acknowledging the many different versions of so many of them, and also the varying attitudes of the ancient Greeks to these stories.

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History of War

This book describes warfare in the heady and fantastic subject of warfare in Greek mythology. I was an avid student of Greek myth in my younger days, and of course it represents a forerunner of the fantasy we all read today. Paul Chrystal tackles a subject that seemingly has not been covered in the past, and the result is a very readable account.

Books Monthly
 Paul Chrystal

About Paul Chrystal

Paul Chrystal studied classics at the University of Hull and then specialised in Latin love poetry for his MPhil at the University of Southampton. He is the author of numerous classics books, including The Romans in the North of England (2019) , From Republic to Empire (2019), Roman Military Disasters (2015) and Women at War in the Classical World (2020). He has contributed as a feature writer to the Daily Express, BBC History Magazine, Ad Familiares, Minerva and All About History, and is frequently on BBC Radio York, BBC Radio Tees, BBC Radio Manchester and BBC World Service. He is a reviewer for and contributor to Classics for All and a contributor to the Classics section of OUP’s Oxford Bibliographies Online; he is an editorial reviewer for Yale University Press Classics books. He was the editor for a short while in 2020 for the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, the journal of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society. In 2019, he was guest speaker for Vassar College New York’s London Programme in association with Goldsmith University.

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