40 Before 40 {Book #40}: ‘Mythology’ by Edith Hamilton

'Mythology' by Edith Hamilton

‘Greatly he failed, but he had greatly dared.’ {Ovid}

Author Edith HamiltonEdith Hamilton’s, ‘Mythology’ (originally published in 1942) is a best summarized as an intensive collection of ancient mythological stories including all those stemming from Roman, Greek, and Nordic superstitions. Hamilton summarizes the works of famous historians Virgil, Ovid, Euripides, Aeschylus, and Sophocles – to name but a few – comparing the different versions of the same tales told by this myriad of storytellers, and sharing the most clear version of ‘fact’.

A prodigious fan of mythology, I was interested to read through a complete collection of these long ago and sometimes forgotten tales. As Edith Hamilton was an educator, scholar, and long-standing Bryn Mawr headmistress described by the New York Times as one who best, ‘brought into clear and brilliant focus the Golden Age of Greek life and thought’, who spent her life researching and disseminating information about Classic Greek and Roman literature, at a time when scholarly pursuits were not largely pursued by women, I figured her book was the best place to begin.

‘The fierceness of man rules the fates of women.’ {Elder Edda}

If you are interested in learning about mythology, this is the book for you. Hamilton succinctly and with great pains towards accurate research, summarizes what seems to be an entire century of belief and superstition. Although the writing was a little dry and best described as ‘educational’, the amount of knowledge and historical explanation squeezed into this 500 page book was immensely eye-opening.

What was most amazing to me was how many modern day – and at times multi-million dollar earning – blockbuster movies and series can be linked back hundreds and hundreds of years to the myths held within these pages – i.e. Marvel blockbuster ‘Thor’, Japanese animation ‘Sailor Moon’, and Amazonian princess ‘Wonder Woman’. Hamilton’s book is educational, informative, and immaculately researched; but I fear I can not call it exciting, although the stories held within, if written in a different and more fantastical way, could surely become so.

Salon Summary

RECOMMENDABILITY: 5 {out of 5} stars | ★★★★★
REPETITIVE READABILITY: 1 {out of 5} stars | ★☆☆☆☆
RATING: 3 {out of 5} stars | ★★★☆☆

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