I found this book at the London Public Library book sale earlier this year. (Oh, I found so many lovely books there, but this is the first one of them that I’ve read.) This old textbook about greek mythology was definitely one of the highlights from the sale, and I was greatly anticipating reading it.
This was by no means a definitive source about greek mythology (I would highly recommend Bulfinch’s Myths of Greece and Rome if that’s what you’re looking for), but this was a great overview. It didn’t read like a textbook – but I didn’t really expect that in this case, as it is about mythology. It touched on some of the best stories in greek mythology – the Trojan War, the creation of the world, the labours of Heracles, Jason and the Golden Fleece, etc.
I was a little disappointed with the story of Odysseus, but I think that is wholly due to the fact that I ready Homer’s The Odyssey a number of years back. This book only used about 10 pages to cover Odysseus’ journey; it felt very prosaic and a little flat. I’m sure, if I had read The Illiad, the section about the Trojan War would have felt the same way.
For me, the highlights of the book were revisiting the stories of Persephone and Cupid & Psyche. Those two are my favourite stories in greek and roman mythology. Especially Cupid & Psyche, which is very similar to Cinderella, in that Psyche is given a bunch of impossible tasks that she finds help with from unlikely sources (bugs, birds, etc.) before she can be reunited with her love. I have to say that reading this has made me want to read C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces even more, which is a retelling of the story from the perspective of one of Psyche’s sisters.
All in all, this book was definitely a great revisitation to one of my favourite subjects.