Best Greek Mythology Books in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update October 29, 2020
If you are into fictional retellings of ancient myths and Greek myths are among your faves, in our selection of the best Greek mythology books, you will surely find something that'll catch your fancy, no matter if you are an experienced mythology reader or a newbie. So, check it out and find some new interesting read. ...Read more ...Read less
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BEST 2020
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Title and Author
Book Type
Number of pages/ File size/ Listening length
Publisher
 
PROS

In this book, the author skillfully lays down Greek, Roman, and Norse myths. The deeds of Odysseus and Heracles, the Trojan War, and many other stories are brought to life and described in details on its pages.

CONS

It might be hard to follow the timeline in some spots. 

OUR VERDICT

Edith Hamilton's Mythology is a bestseller with millions of copies sold worldwide that have become a piece of classics. This edition is a celebration of the book's 75th anniversary that has all chances to become a collector's item. And a hardcover version with Jim Tierny illustrations will make an excellent gift to any myth fan.

detailed parameters
Title and Author

Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, Edith Hamilton

Book Type

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, MP3, CD

Number of pages/ File size/ Listening length

384 pages / 57267 KB

Publisher

Black Dog & Leventhal; Deluxe, Illustrated, Anniversary Edition (19 Oct. 2017)

PROS

With the deities, heroes, and monsters skillfully and freshly described as if they are still alive, you'll fall in love with this book from the very first page. And detailed pictures literally interpret the text. 

CONS

The sound quality of the audio leaves something to be desired. 

OUR VERDICT

In print for over 50 years, the Book of Greek Myths by D'Aulaires is a perfect introduction to Greek mythology for different generations. It will enthral younger readers and keep adults captivated while an essay about the authors' life and their family pictures add a personal touch to it.  

detailed parameters
Title and Author

Greek Myths, Ingri d'Aulaire

Book Type

Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover, Audio, CD

Number of pages/ File size/ Listening length

192 pages / 279054 KB / 4 hours and 14 minutes

Publisher

Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Div of Random House, Inc; Illustrated Edition (1 Mar. 1992)

PROS

Classic Grek myth plots are laid down in a comprehensible and easy-to-understand manner engaging little readers. Meanwhile, informative references to historical, geographical, and cultural facts bring an educational effect. 

CONS

Some words are a bit too advanced for the age group. 

OUR VERDICT

The book is a compilation of most popular Greek myths from the National Geographic Kids series written in an engaging lyrical manner and accompanied by amazing illustrations on each broadside that will make stories even more fascinating. Bright, catchy, and filled with interesting details, the book makes a great gift for a school kid.

detailed parameters
Title and Author

Treasury of Greek Mythology, Donna Jo Napoli

Book Type

Hardcover, Kindle

Number of pages/ File size/ Listening length

208 pages / 95651 KB

Publisher

National Geographic Kids; Reinforced Library ed. Edition (15 Oct. 2011)

PROS

The book provides a comprehensive index of the names of Greek gods, demonic creatures, monsters, and heroes that are scrupulously analysed to show remote relations between characters, thus, turning this edition into a definitive guide.  

CONS

The book paper could be of better quality. 

OUR VERDICT

Written by the British novelist and poet, The Greek Myths by Robert Graves smartly combines poetic and imaginative narration with cross-references, explanations, and author's interpretations that have high scientific value and give the reader precious insights into the ancient Greek world. It's a great choice for those who are real big on Greek myths. 

detailed parameters
Title and Author

The Greek Myths, Robert Graves

Book Type

Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover

Number of pages/ File size/ Listening length

784 pages / 4690 KB / 19 hours and 55 minutes

Publisher

Penguin (28 Sept. 2017)

PROS

Retold in a unique signature style of Stephen Fry, the greatest myths of ancient Greece are easy to understand. Laid down in a brilliant, witty, and enthralling manner, it's an extremely engaging read.

CONS

Multiple footnotes can be a bit distracting.

OUR VERDICT

Sticking to original plots of classic tales and legends, in this book, Stephen Fry gives a smart modern twist on ancient Greek myths that still greatly impact many spheres of our life. Entertaining and educative, those stories will help you get into the origins of mythic characters and systematise them. 

detailed parameters
Title and Author

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold, Stephen Fry

Book Type

Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover, Audio, CD

Number of pages/ File size/ Listening length

464 pages / 26527 KB / 15 hours and 25 minutes

Publisher

Penguin; 01 Edition (26 July 2018)

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Edith Hamilton Mythology:

An Immortal Greek Mythology Hit

There are books that become bestsellers straight away and carry their popularity through generations. Mythology by Edith Hamilton is one of such books. First published in 1942, it has sold millions of copies worldwide since then and become a piece of mythology classics. Having been favoured by readers for decades, today, this book is available in all most popular formats including CD, MP3, and Kindle edition as well as prestigious hardcover and mass-market paperback formats. So, whether you are an old-fashioned bookworm or a modern reading fan, it will get you covered.

Myths have long outlived their creators and are still a part of our lives. Edith Hamilton took it as a basis when making up her mythology compendium and brought to a modern reader a precious collection of Greek, Roman, and Norse myths that are considered the keystones of the whole Western culture. You’ll meet Greek deity pantheon of Olympus and Norse gods in Valhalla, read the legendary stories of Odysseus and Jason, and immerse in the drama of the Trojan war.

While making her myth research, the author drew inspiration from the timeless pieces of poetry from Homer, Sophocles, and Aeschylus. However, in retelling traditional myths, Hamilton not only throws dry facts at the reader but also provides context and her own outlay, with a lot of focus on heroes. As you read, you'll discover the origins of many names and constellations and come across references to modern works of art and literature. In the meantime, the prose is lucid and clear while the overall tone is poetic and evocative. Although some general understanding of the topic is needed, there is no need for deep or specific knowledge, making this book great for beginner adult readers.

Review of Edith Hamilton Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, 75th Anniversary Illustrated Edition

A Thing of Beauty

The book version under this review is a deluxe hardcover copy printed to celebrate the book’s 75th anniversary and the publishers did their best to make it a thing of beauty. Under a gorgeous cover with ethnic images and the title in traditionally styled letters are 384 thick laminated pages with legible texts and vivid pictures that won’t fade over time. As compared to previous editions, this book is complete with wonderful coloured illustrations that appeal to your imagination.

Made up by full-format pages, the book is chunky and might seem rather heavy to hold. However, neatly bound and looking very professional, it’s well worth some extra weight. As such, it’s a real gem that will take a decent place on your bookshelf and make a perfect gift for collectors, mythographers, and anyone interested in myths.

To cut a long story short, Mythology by Edith Hamilton is a literary masterpiece and an immortal hit that can serve as a golden standard to evaluate other mythology books.

Edith Hamilton Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, 75th Anniversary Illustrated Edition in the use
Last updated price £16.16
Stock In stock
ASIN 0316438529

 

Ingri d'Aulaire Illustrated

A Perfect Intro to Greek Myths

Created thousands of years ago by people living in a whole different era, myths will never lose their value. Despite huge technological progress, today, people don’t seem to change too much and face the same psychological and personal problems as their ancient predecessors. So, the moral these tales bring is still up-to-date. And if you are looking for a starting point to begin an exciting mythology journey, D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths will suit you to a tee.

The book is deemed to be a piece of timeless classic for adults and kids alike, and deservedly so. Built around the most famous legends and tales of ancient Greece, the selection of myths in this edition is greatly systematised. It starts with Gaia and Uranus followed by Cronos, proceeds to Zeus with the rest of major Olympian gods, and then goes down to other minor mythic creatures and mortals. With all the inherent brutal weirdness of myths, D’Aulaires managed to retell them in a carefully worded and refined style with a slight touch of humour and present them in an enthralling and evocative manner. The language is not too simplified and relatively sophisticated, so it is still understandable for older kids above eight years old.

Yet, what makes this book really shine is skilful and incredibly detailed portraits of deities, heroes, and monsters giving an impression they are still alive and making the stories even more engaging. Those descriptions are further enhanced and supported by numerous vivid illustrations that literally interpret the text. They range from character images to drawings of ancient Greece maps to pictures of constellations and mythical events. Bright and lavish, some of those illustrations are page-size and work great to visualise the mythic scenes and let the reader plunge into the ancient atmosphere.

Review of Ingri d'Aulaire Illustrated D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths

With a Personal Touch to It

Just like many other mythology books, D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths has its signature style and is infused with the authors’ voice and passion for myths. Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire were a married couple and worked together for years, which might be the main reason why the text and illustrations are ideally synchronised and make up an entire work of art. Cherished by several generations of readers, the book has seen multiple publications and the present edition is one of the latest. It comes with an updated cover and has some personal touch to it giving us a sneak-peek into the authors’ life. In the afterword, the reader will find a brief essay about D’Aulaires work, some photos from their family archive, and their drawings that have never been published before.

In short, initially created for younger readers, the book is much loved by smaller kids and teens and is greatly appreciated by adults who seek some light and enthralling mythology read.

Ingri d'Aulaire Illustrated D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths in the use
Last updated price £11.75
Stock In stock
ASIN 0440406943

 

Donna Jo Napoli Illustrated

One of the Best Greek Mythology Children's Books

Most kids like monsters, non-real beings, and fantastic creatures that dwell in a fascinating and wonderful fairytale world. And only a few of them know that many mythic characters of modern stories originate from Greek mythology characters that are larger than life. Hence, if you want to introduce your kids to Greek myths in an interesting and fun way, Treasury of Greek Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli is one of the best mythology books for children.

Part of the National Geographic Kid series, this book is the result of the fruitful and successful collaboration between award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli and award-winning illustrator Christina Balit, two people who did their best to make those timeless classic stories attractive and understandable for little readers. The language used is free from fancy and complicated words and is very poetic, making up the lucid and flowy narration. Meanwhile, a family tree and the characters’ profile help smaller readers trace the relationships between characters as well as their origins.

Kids are visual learners. Knowing this, the book abounds in bright, vivid, and catchy illustrations that will immediately draw the attention of young readers. Full-body images and detailed portraits of mythological figures, as well as pictures of associated symbols, are drawn in splendid Art Deco style mixing sharp lines with a rich and flashy colour palette.

Review of Donna Jo Napoli Illustrated Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and Monsters

For Fun and for Education

An eye-catching cover and magnificent illustrations will engage kids’ imagination straight away and induce them to read the stories. Speaking of which, the selection of tales targets to provide little readers with a broad grounding on classic Greek myths. The stories introduce kids to the creation of the universe out of Chaos, twelve Olympian gods and their heroic mortal offsprings, as well as the most popular mythology monsters and the devastation of the Trojan war. While keeping all sex aspects inexplicit, the author clearly lays out all family lines and personal relations and smartly highlights the nature of both the gods and the heroes.

Each story is adorned with sidebars depicting gods, heroes, and monsters that set links between the myth and astronomy, geography, history, and modern culture. Giving a generalised view on ancient Greek tales, the book will leave inquisitive minds intrigued and encourage them to learn more by connecting myths to real-life events and places or seeking additional information about certain historical facts.

To wrap it up, Treasury of Greek Mythology from National Geographic is a great stories book on Greek mythology specifically created for kids. An easy-to-read and engaging text coupled with vibrant illustrations will leave no little reader indifferent.

Donna Jo Napoli Illustrated Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and Monsters in the use
Last updated price £14.58
Stock In stock
ASIN 1426308442

 

Robert Graves The Greek Myths:

Comprehensive and Valuable Collection of Myths

If you are an aspiring mythographer or a mythology buff in search of a full compilation of Greek myths to dig deeper and detail your knowledge of Greek mythology, you’ll surely hit the spot with The Greek Myths by Robert Graves.

To start off, unlike many others, Robert Graves was both a writer and a scholar. Hence, on 784 pages, you’ll get one of the biggest and most complete myth collections that covers pretty much all Greek mythology and is based on extensive and thorough scholar research. With that, though, the book is not a dry compendium of quotes from ancient manuscripts leaving the reader to decipher the meaning but wonderfully organised and beautifully told mythography with valuable comments and analysis.

Presented with the novelist's skill, each myth can be read as a single narrative. Yet, the author did not turn it into an adventurous and heroic story with a happy end. He sticks to the original storyline and masterfully discloses the inherent timeless moral via comments, cross-references, interpretations, and explanations. To be more precise, each section consists of a retold myth followed by footnote explanations and Grave’s comments. Notably, some myths come in several versions providing a bit different interpretations.

As for the content, the book will lead you from the creation of myths through heroic stories to Trojan war drama and include even less popular myths and legends you won’t find in other mythology books.

Review of Robert Graves The Greek Myths: The Complete and Definitive Edition

... and a Definitive Mythology Guide

Apart from the most extensive collection of classic ancient stories, The Greek Myths has a learning value and makes up an informative mythology guide for those who want to find out more details on the myths of ancient Greece. The book abounds in additional materials meant to help you better understand the myths and look at them from a historical perspective.

As you can expect from a guide, the book boasts a perfect organization, Divided into seven big sections with each myth titled individually, it has a smart table of contents that will help you easily find the desired myth if you want to read about some specific god, hero, or monster. Other than that, a thought-out name index is included to trace the characters’ origins and relationships as well as study myths by subject categories.

Summing up, The Greek Myths by Robert Graves is not a short storybook but rather a complete reference guide on Greek mythology that will be an interesting read for those who are real big on this subject, study ancient Greece culture, or do some sort of mythology research.

Robert Graves The Greek Myths: The Complete and Definitive Edition in the use
Last updated price £11.55
Stock In stock
ASIN 0241982359

 

Stephen Fry Mythos:

A Smart Twist on Greek Mythology

If you had a chance to read translated ancient texts of Greek myths, those tales would hardly seem so fascinating. These are retold versions arising in prose of every generation that popularised myths and made them so appealing for the readers of all times. Mythos by Stephen Fry is yet another attempt from our coeval to interpret the myths of ancient Greece and, we must admit, quite a successful one.

The first distinctive feature of this book that sets it apart from classic editions is that the author steps aside from proverbial stories of Odysseus, Hercules, Jason, Argonauts, and other famous Greek heroes and sets a focus on the myths about the appearance of titans, creation of Greek gods, and less known mythic characters. Beginning with Chaos-to-order myths, the author moves on to titans, the establishment of Olympus, the rising of gods, and the creation of humans. An interesting fact is that the writer skillfully describes all the tiniest details making up a wonderful mythic world as well as showing relations between gods to introduce the reader into the ancient Greek deity hierarchy. Besides, he weaves multiple references and footnotes into the text to provide cultural and historical details to highlight the myth's meaning and reveal linguistic roots of some terms.

A superb entertainer and orator, Stephen Fry is also an excellent narrator and he has used his unique wit to the full in this book. Sticking to original storylines, he demonstrates how old-time tales translate into modern problems in an easy-to-read manner. Meanwhile, Fry uses his signature writing style, which is light, charming, intelligent, and informative. Though he does use some complicated words, his texts are straightforward and interesting nonetheless.

Review of Stephen Fry Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold

Legends Retold by Legendary Man

Stephen Fry is a living legend widely loved in Great Britain and far beyond its borders. He is a talented English actor, comedian, entertainer, and writer. Even if you’ve never read his books before, you surely saw him on TV many times, listened to him on the radio, and most likely enjoyed his expressly smart humour with a touch of subtle sarcasm in standup shows. He holds many awards and is recognised as one of the funniest comedians worldwide and one of the most influential on-screen performers.

On the other hand, as popular and media-related as he is, Stephen Fry is an educated, intelligent, and knowledgeable person. Chairing a BBC quiz on etymology, he has a big passion for Greek myths, so, it’s no wonder he wrote a book on Greek mythology. And he certainly did it his own way. He reworked classic myths, spiced them up with sharp humour, and put them down in a pretty simple language to make those ancient tales interesting, comprehensible, and appealing for a modern audience, while still keeping their originality and immortal vibe. Fry insists that dazzling Greek myths are not only for readers with classic education or some scholar background but for everyone.

Summing up, Mythos by Stephen Fry is a great entry point for beginners who want to get deeper into the fascinating world of Greek mythology.

Stephen Fry Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold in the use
Last updated price £7.99
Stock In stock
ASIN 1405934131

 

What Is a Greek Mythology Book?

Mythology is something that has kept people fascinated for centuries and still provokes us to think today. A myth is a kind of legend or story built around some hero or event. Being a part of ancient culture, myths reveal the secret of existence and universe through the mysterious forces of nature and the power of gods. In literature, myths refer to a folklore genre and, once told by ancient people, they were integrated into the works of famous ancient writers and have survived to this day mostly because our craving for the unknown and fabulous is as strong as it was centuries ago.

Myths are found in any culture, but Greek myths are the most famous. They are more than just wondrous tales about supernatural characters. Through gripping stories about titans and epic adventures of courageous heroes where people live and fight side by side with the gods, and the gods are not the only supreme power in the universe, Greek myths allow us to learn the history of entire civilizations, better understand their thoughts and beliefs, trace their views and apply them to our modern life.

Today, Greek mythology books are compilations of most popular Greek myths created both for avid readers who are deep into mythology reads and those who have only decided to immerse into a captivating world of ancient mythology. The most famous tales from Greek mythology are those about Odysseus, Jason, Theseus, Prometheus, Perseus, Amazons, Pandora, Sisters of Fate, Hercules, Oedipus, etc.

And if you are a fan of puzzling and mystic stories, we are sure mystery books will also come to your liking.

What Features to Compare

Mythology read is different from many other fiction books on your bookshelves. Hence, it is not enough to know that it’s a folklore genre (and do not let it confuse you). As such, the genre is a secondary aspect when choosing a mythology book. So, we’ve made a list of things to consider to ease and guide your choice.

Author

Myths are the stories that have already been told and written down in the ancient Greek language. Thus, what we have in English are the versions translated and retold by contemporary authors. In other words, you’ll read the story through the eyes of the writer and perceive it through his or her point of view. That is why it is important to know who the book author is, look into their background and learn some of their biographies to see if you share the author’s vision and general approach. Many mythology books are often written by historians and scientists who dedicated their lives to studying Greek myths and searching for their gist.

Complexity

Greek mythology books stand somewhere in between fiction and serious historical reads and fall into different groups categorised by complexity. There are classic bestsellers simply retelling the legendary myths in an unbiased manner that are good for all times and types of readers. Then, there's kind of scientific work focused on analysis and abounding in the author’s comments to provide some sort of subjective view that might be greatly appreciated by those who are real big on mythology and study it on a professional level. And finally, you will come across books created specifically for beginners who are new to this and are eager to learn more. Such stories are usually accompanied by footnotes with explanations of terms and notions a reader might be not familiar with.

Writing Style

The writing style is important in view of the fact that Greek mythology books are available for different age categories of readers including adults, teens, and even smaller kids. Ordinarily, legendary stories for the smallest are written in a plain and simple language, while books targeted at an adult audience will likely have an abundance of complex words and advanced terms.

Layout

Mythology books greatly depend on illustrations. Good pictures help the reader plunge into the ancient atmosphere and better visualise the scenery and people from that time. Bright, vivid, and interesting illustrations will light up your imagination, draw you in, and make the read even more fascinating.

Book Format

Modern books are more than paperback and hardcover samples. They also come in a digital Kindle format and are available in Audiobooks and on CDs. The choice here fully depends on your preference and is a matter of personal convenience and habit. While hardcover samples are an excellent gift idea, digital versions will take no place in your bag and are more convenient for on the go read.

Did you know?

Roman vs Greek Mythology: Know the Difference

Both ancient Greeks and Romans had their myths that took origins many centuries ago. With that, though, Greek mythology is much older and has existed long before Roman myths even occurred. So, in a way, Roman myths and legends were adopted from Greek mythology with a projection of their own time- and culture-appropriate values. Many modern readers view those myths as similar, with the only difference being in the names and some minor changes in stories. However, descriptive, elaborate, and very close in storytelling, Greek and Roman myths have a number of major differences and distinctive features.

  • The biggest difference is in the overall concept. While Greek mythology focuses more on explaining the essence of existence, Roman myths are a source and basis of their religion. So, the tales approach the same events and actions from a bit different perspective.

  • Greek mythology personalised gods and often indued humans with divine powers while setting a clear line between life and death. Hence, in Greek myths, mortals participated in dangerous battles and adventures and performed deity deeds on earth. Roman mythology, on the other hand, believed in the afterlife and disregarded heroic deeds and feats of mortals.

  • Mortals in Greek and Roman mythology lived different lives. Greek gods had a supreme status the mortals couldn’t attain. People could only deserve the honour of gods by good works during their time on earth. Instead, in Roman culture, deities were kind of motivators for people to live the right way and become like gods or get a better life after death. In fact, this is what stands behind pretty much any contemporary religion.

  • The images of gods and goddesses in Greek and Roman myths are not the same. Thus, the Greeks view deities as beautiful and gorgeous beings with a human appearance. Gods were perfect creatures in everything, from their bodies to their deeds. Meanwhile, Romans had less do to with personification and more to do with some sort of formless divinity enabling the readers to imagine how those gods could look like.

The Core of Greek Mythology

Greek mythos come in numbers, yet by and large, there are two basic pillars the myth storylines stick to.

  • The Olympians. The centre of Greek mythology is a pantheon of gods living on Olympus mountain, which is the highest Greek peak, from where they rule the world. All in all, there are twelve Olympian gods who look like men and women. Headed by the king of gods Zeus, they refer to different natural forces or essential values.

  • Human Heroes and Monsters. The stories about deities interweave with tales about adventures and deeds of mortal heroes who fight monsters to save mankind. Those monsters are often hybrids of humans and animals like harpies, cyclopes, minotaurs, gorgons, etc.

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Publish Date: 2020-10-29 10:39:21