If you’re like me and easily find yourself intrigued by the tales of Greek gods and goddesses, then you will enjoy this list of books on Greek mythology and retellings! They are suitable for both young and old tastes:
1. Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures by Stephen Fry
In this knowledgeable book, acclaimed comedian Stephen Fry recounts to readers the battles and chases and a wide variety of bold and stirring adventures that involved monstrous perils, as well as acts of bravery and cowardice, murders and selfless sacrifice set in Ancient Greece
2. The Greek Myths by Robert Graves
This book encompasses familiar or already popular myths such as Labours of Hercules, voyage of Argonauts, Theseus and the Minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War , Odysseus’ journey home and a lot more. This is considered to be a treasure trove to find all of your favourite unforgettable and extraordinary epics in one place.
3. The Iliad by Homer
Composed/written in 730 BC, this great work recounts the 10 year war that raged on between the invading Achaeans, Greeks and Trojans.
This war involved explosive confrontations between the greatest warrior in Troy known as Achilles and the inept Greek leader Agamemnon.
The Iliad not only brings to the reader’s attention how, when and where the Bronze Age conflict took place but also how it destroyed/impacted the lives of innocent civilians, soldiers, both the victor and the vanquished, the heroes and cowards, men, women and children as well as young and old.
Many lives were ravaged due to the Trojan War and this work acts as a record of the same in an epic yet devastating manner . It has also been translated by classicist Caroline Alexander.
4. Metamorphoses by Ovid
The translation of this epic poem was released by Charles Martin.
This poem is a mock epic that takes on the theme of change and is an anthology of stories, each delving into this theme of transformation or change.
It describes the history and creation of the world and also incorporates well-known and beloved tales from Greek mythology, but instead centres on mortals instead of the heroes or gods.
It also mentions the Gold Age, Silver Age and Age of Iron or Age of Man and the evolution of each Age. Many medieval and Renaissance writers have even been influenced by this work.
5. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
This is not a Greek mythology, but rather a retelling of the same from the female perspective, narrated by the voices of goddesses, women and girls who were earlier silent.
In it, the protagonist Creusa wakes up to see her beloved Troy go up in flames after 10 years of endless and brutal conflict carried out between Greeks and Trojans with the former emerging victorious. Her life too will turn into ashes.
This novel also focuses on the aftermath of war that affects everyone from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, the citadel of Troy and even the distant Greek islands.
6. An Orchestra of Minorities by ChigoZie Obioma
This has been described as a contemporary twist on Homer’s Odyssey and is set in the outskirts of Nigeria in Umuahia. It is narrated by a Chi, a guardian spirit that will outlive all the other characters in this novel.
It revolves around a poor farmer Chinonso who finds love in the suicidal and wealthy Ndala after he saves her.
But her family is against this forbidden union. It is a tale of destiny and determination and like the original by Homer spans continents and cosmic spaces.
7. D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire
If you have young kids as interested in Greek myths as I was when I was a child, grab a copy of this book that is designed especially to teach children about Greek mythology.
It’s simple, clear, understandable, colorful and evocative. It not only delves into the personalities of gods and heroes but also features retellings of most major myths.
8. Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
Are you a dog person… Who also loves reading about Greek myths? Then this one’s for you!
This is the tale of the Gods Hermes and Apollo who place a bet between themselves.
As a result of the said bet, they grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs at a Toronto veterinary clinic (I’m not making any of this up. That’s literally the synopsis).
But wait, it gets better…! As the Gods watch from above, the dogs venture out into the real world and find themselves struggling to fit into the real world or even to come to terms with the new granted thoughts and feelings.
While one of the creatures becomes a poet after becoming well-adjusted and capable of complex thoughts, another creature is adopted and bounces around from home to home, while yet another still prefers the ‘old dog ways’ and is fearful of change.
This novel is considered to be a contemporary twist on the Apologue (an allegorical tale).
9. Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
Yet another contemporary, cool and suave take on the 12 Greek gods of Olympus, this is the tale of Artemis who is now a dog walker, Apollo who is a TV psychic, Aphrodite who is a phone sex operator and Dionysus who is a DJ. They all live in the 21st century in a London Townhouse.
With their powers waning, they find solace in sapping the vital reserves of strength from mortals after turning them into trees. So basically what I’d do if I was a Greek god living in the 21st century as well!
After a minor squabble erupts and transforms into a vicious battle between the Gods, two humans Alice and Neil are caught in the crossfire and only an act of heroism from them both can save the world from the bad behaviour of the Gods!
10. Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
Carson, an award winning poet recounts, revisits and recreates Greek mythology and even reinvents the genre itself. It also acts as an original coming of age tale of Geryan who is a young man with the body of a winged red monster.
Young and tormented Geryan recounts his escape from his abusive brother as well as how he found solace in the arms of Herakles, a drifter. It is described as a whimsical, yet haunting and richly detailed story of an artist coming to terms with himself.
We hope you have fun immersing yourself in these tales full of fantasy and adventure. Make sure to share with your greek mythology loving friends and check out our other articles too!