Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review of Mythology by Edith Hamilton 1.7

General Information:

Name of Book: Mythology

ISBN:  9780316341516

Publisher: First Black Bay

Year it was published: 1942

Overall theme:

"The Greeks did not believe that the gods created the universe. It was the other way about: the universe created the gods. Before there were gods heaven and earth had been formed. They were the first parents. The Titans were their children, and the gods were their grandchildren." (24)

Part One The Gods, the Creation and the Earliest Heroes

1. The Gods

The Titans and the Twelve Great Olympians

Observations: The pages briefly introduce the Titans and twelve major gods of Olympus, as well as explaining about Olympus. Then afterwards there are brief biographies of the twelve major and popular gods such as Zeus, Hera, Pallas Athena and so forth. The author lists their Greek name and the Roman name equivalent, as well as pointing out that Apollo being called the Sun-God comes from a Titan, or rather it was confused.

The Lesser Gods of Olympus

Observations: The Muses, Graces, and few other gods are introduced to the reader, as well as named in their chosen fields and where they might come from.

The Gods of the Waters

Observations: Brief introduction to the world of the sea and the gods and creatures that have inhabited it. Poseidon, the Titans and wives and children are introduced.

The Underworld

Observations: Introduction to the denizens of the underworld such as the Erinyes as well as a geography of the place including rivers and possible location.

The Lesser Gods of Earth

Observations: The author does not focus on Bacchus nor Demeter but instead introduces the unimportant dwellers such as Pan, various dryads, sirens, Fates and so forth. There is an introduction of Castor and Pollux, and the author spends a lot of time discussing the twins.

The Roman Gods

Observations: Romans did have gods before Greek ones and the author briefly outlines them and their functions, as well as describing the personality of Romans (briefly) and how they differed from Greeks. She also gives name equivalents of Roman names to Greek gods.

2. The Two Great Gods of Earth


Observations: Introduction to Demeter and her story of Persephone, how Hades took Persephone away and Demeter refused to let everything grow thus Zeus had to intervene and also had to have Hades let Persephone go. Hades gave her a pomegranate seed to eat which causes her to be trapped in Underworld for eight months, and for four months she is to have freedom.

Dionysus or Bacchus

Observations: Story of Bacchus/Dionysus, how his mother, Semele,  has died due to Hera's suggestion of asking Zeus to see him in full glory, and of his wanderings and life such as the attempted kidnapping by pirates, and of him finding and loving Ariadne whom Theseus has abandoned as well as why he was considered the god that ordinary mortals could relate to.

3. How the World and Mankind were Created

Observations: Three different stories of how the world was formed; one of Emptiness begetting Uranus and Earth and how they united. Included in the chapter are Zeus's beginnings and battles, such as one with gods against Titans and Typhon. Afterwards come the accounts of men, such as Prometheus and his Euthemeus creating men and women, or else the gods experimenting with different metals, or even the flood story. This also includes the myth of Pandora and how women came about.

4. The Earliest Heroes

Prometheus and Io

Observations: Io wanders over to where Prometheus is chained and we get a tale from her about how she became a cow, and about Hermes slaying Argus and of Prometheus's prophecy that she shall be honored after a long while, and a descendant of hers, Heracles, would at last free Prometheus from the fate that befell him.


Observations: The story of Europa, how she gathered companions and they went about picking flowers and walking. Zeus then sees her, falls in love with her, changes himself into a bull and kidnaps her to where he was hidden. He promises her glory and two sons were born to her: Minos and Rhadamanthus (not sure of spelling...)

The Cyclops Polyphemus

Observations: The story of Polyphemus, the Cyclops whom Odysseus has blinded. First is the long history of how he got blinded, and then it mentions that he falls in love with a nymph by the name of Galatea who at first spurned his advances, but then later she and Doris fell in love with him, supposedly, although the ending is not happy because Galatea wanted to be with Acis but that was denied to her by the Cyclopes.

Flower-Myths: Narcissus, Hyacinth, Adonis

Observations: Stories behind the three flowers, beginning with Narcissus, how he scorned women, especially the beautiful Echo, as well as Echo's curse, and eventually someone cursing him, causing him to fall in love with his own reflection. Next is a brief story of Hyacinthus, the youth beloved by Apollo and possibly by Zephyr who caused his death accidentally. Last is the story of Adonis, the one whose blood gave birth to anemones. Two goddesses, Aphrodite and Persephone fell in love with him and he eventually died hunting a boar. Everyone mourned Adonis.

To be continued...

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