Greek mythology is an amazing subject, full of complex characters and lore; in fact, many of today’s movies and video games are inspired by the stories of heroes such as Perseus and Persephone. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for a newcomer to get started on the subject, as there are hundreds of books on Greek mythology available. Choosing the perfect book on Greek mythology is an epic undertaking that could rival the adventures of even Odysseus himself! Below, we’ve assembled 15 of the best books on Greek mythology for adults of all skill levels. Whether you’re looking to read these stories for the first time or you’re looking for expert analysis on your favorite myths, you’ll find at least one book on this list that is perfect for you.
15 of the Best Greek Mythology Books for Adults – 2019
“Greek Mythology, Gods & Goddesses Explained!” is one of the best books available for someone who is just starting to learn about Greek mythology. In “Greek Mythology, Gods & Goddesses Explained!,” author Jeffrey Houston covers Greek mythology in its entirety. In addition to the stories themselves, Houston discusses how these stories came to fruition and why the world remains fascinated with retelling them. “Greek Mythology, Gods & Goddesses Explained!” gives an overview of the major players in Greek mythology, such as Zeus, Hermes and Aphrodite and also discusses niche subjects such as the Titans. After teaching you about the stories, Houston then shows how each one connects to each other and even answers some of the most commonly asked questions about Greek mythology. If you’re looking for an entry point into this rich world of myths and heroes, then you’ll love “Greek Mythology, Gods & Goddesses Explained!.”
Throughout the years, many of the Greek myths have lost some of their meaning. With each retelling, a few small details get left out, until all that is left is a version of the myth that only captures the basics of the original Greek story. In “Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths,” author Bernard Evslin retells the stories how they were originally told in Greece. A Greek himself, Evslin translates each myth into English while retaining many of the smaller details that other authors tend to overlook when they translate the stories. In addition to the major stories, “Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths” also covers some of the minor tales as well.
“The Complete World of Greek Mythology” by Richard Bruxton provides an uncensored look into the world of Greek mythology. While other authors shy away from the elements of rape, incest and adultery found in these stories, Bruxton leaves these elements intact while explaining why these graphic elements often found their way into each myth. In addition to the written tales, “The Complete World of Greek Mythology” provides beautiful color artwork on almost every page, allowing readers to visualize each myth as they read along. The short length of the book makes it the perfect size for newcomers, allowing them to experience a variety of myths without overwhelming them with minutiae.
“Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” is one of the oldest and best-selling books on Greek mythology, and within minutes of opening it, you’ll see why. The book covers not only Greek mythology but Roman mythology as well, showing how the similarities between the myths came to pass. At 512 pages, “Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” is a huge book, covering both the major Greek myths along with plenty of the smaller ones. For stories such as the Trojan War, “Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” touches only on the key details of each story, which ensures the book doesn’t get bogged down in the small details and lose the reader. While “Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” doesn’t provide much in the way of analysis for each myth, it does provide an excellent retelling of each story. No matter how versed you are in Greek mythology, “Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” is worth a read.
5. The Iliad
“The Iliad” by Homer is one of the most famous and complex entries in all of Greek mythology. This version, translated by the award-winning author Robert Fagles, is hailed by critics as one of the best modern translations available today. Fagles captures all the nuance of the original tales while presenting each story in an easy-to-read format that will captivate audiences of all ages. If you’ve never read “The Iliad,” this is the definitive version you will want to experience. If you’ve read previous translations of “The Iliad,” you’ll still want to read this version, as Fagles captures many small details that other translators overlooked.
If you’re someone who wants to start reading about Greek mythology but you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, then you’ll love “Greek Mythology: A Concise Guide to Ancient Gods, Heroes, Beliefs and Myths of Greek Mythology.” This 52-page book is a quick read, covering all of the major heroes, stories and events in Greek mythology in a concise format. “Greek Mythology: A Concise Guide to Ancient Gods, Heroes, Beliefs and Myths of Greek Mythology” starts from the beginning, explaining how Zeus came to rule Olympus and ends with some of the most famous tales in Greek mythology. As a bonus, “Greek Mythology: A Concise Guide to Ancient Gods, Heroes, Beliefs and Myths of Greek Mythology” also includes short biographies of all the major Greek gods and heroes.
7. 100 Characters from Classical Mythology: Discover the Fascinating Stories of the Greek and Roman Deities
There are a lot of characters to remember in Greek mythology, with how well you know each character directly impacting how much you’ll understand and enjoy each story. “100 Characters from Classical Mythology: Discover the Fascinating Stories of the Greek and Roman Deities” gives you a detailed biography on 100 characters from both Greek and Roman mythology, ranging from major characters like Zeus and Apollo to minor heroes such as Paris and Circe. In addition to biographies, the book also presents readers with genealogy trees, which allows readers to see how each character relates to the others. Unlike some of the older books on Greek mythology, “100 Characters from Classical Mythology: Discover the Fascinating Stories of the Greek and Roman Deities” also includes much of the newly discovered information about these historical characters.
“Greek Mythology: A Captivating Guide to the Ancient Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and Monsters” is part of author Matt Clayton’s trilogy of mythology books. In his Greek mythology entry, Clayton covers over 16 different facets of Greek mythology. Some of these subjects include Zeus and his many lovers, Jason and the Argonauts, the fall of Troy and the Titans vs. the Olympians. The book is both concise and easy to read, hitting the major points of each story while adding enough flair to keep the reader hooked on every page.
One of the recurring themes in Greek mythology is that the gods and goddesses were not great people. For example, Zeus constantly cheated on his wife with mortal women, the gods would frequently deceive mortals for their amusement and revenge plots were the norm on Mount Olympus. “Greek Gods and Goddesses Gone Wild” takes a look at the immoral actions of the gods and goddesses and seeks to answer the question of why they behaved so badly. The book also spends time looking at how humanity frequently deceived the gods and goddesses by using their vanity and selfishness against them.
“The Library of Greek Mythology” is unique among other Greek mythology books, as it is the only book to survive from classical antiquity. “The Library of Greek Mythology” presents Greek mythology in its purest form, translated directly from ancient Greek works for English-speaking readers to enjoy. Translator Robin Hard not only captures the tone and voice of these stories perfectly, but she also provides notes, genealogy trees and a map. “The Library of Greek Mythology” isn’t recommended for newcomers, as the writing is dry and dense as it is a direct translation of the original works. While other authors add their own spin on these stories, “The Library of Greek Mythology” strives for accuracy above entertainment.
While many Greek myths are translated from old literature, some of the original tales, such as the fall of Troy or Theseus fighting a minotaur, only exist in the form of pictures. “Art and Myth in Ancient Greece” presents these drawings to the world, allowing fans of Greek mythology to see where their favorite myths originated from. “Art and Myth in Ancient Greece” features over 350 black-and-white illustrations taken from vases, gems and sculptures. This thick book is a perfect coffee table book and is one that your guests won’t want to put down.
12. The Odyssey
“The Odyssey” is one of the most famous Greek myths, second only to “The Iliad.” “The Odyssey” tells the story of Odysseus and his travels throughout the countryside, where he fights against creatures such as a cyclops, witches and other creatures from the underworld. This version of “The Odyssey” features a translation by Robert Fagles, who provides a faithful translation with enough modern verbiage to keep readers entertained. Reviewers and critics agree that Fagles’ translation of “The Odyssey” is one of the best renditions of the story.
“Bulfinch’s Mythology” is a leather-bound tome that is one of the most respected books on mythology according to both critics and scholars alike. In fact, “Bulfinch’s Mythology” was the go-to book for teachers and professors for over a century due to how comprehensive it is. While much of the 704 pages in this book are devoted to Greek mythology, “Bulfinch’s Mythology” also dedicates sections to Roman, Egyptian and Norse mythology as well. In addition to the stories themselves, “Bulfinch’s Mythology” also features copious amounts of beautiful artwork.
While many of the books on this list are about retelling Greek mythology, “Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths” is a deconstruction of the stories and how they fit into modern society. In “Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths,” author Lawrence J. Hatab discusses the myths from a philosophical standpoint, showing how these myths shaped both the politics and the sense of self of ancient Grecians. While “Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths” isn’t for everyone, those who are looking for a new take on the classic Greek tales will love this book.
With so many names, places and dates in Greek mythology, many readers feel like they need a separate reference book just to refresh their memory during a story. “The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology” is that book, providing an extensive reference for the many unique terms used in Greek mythology. This dictionary offers maps, genealogy tables, and alphabetical entries for all of your favorite heroes and gods. At 480 pages, you won’t find a more extensive dictionary of Greek mythology than “The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology.”
Six Greek Mythology Books Your Children Will Love
As a lot of Greek mythology tales deal with adult themes, many parents may find the above books inappropriate for children. However, that doesn’t mean you need to ban your child from reading about Greek mythology altogether! Many authors and publishers put out Greek mythology books that retain the plot, theme and morals of the stories while wrapping them in a child-friendly package. Below are six of the best books on Greek mythology that children will love.
“The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War” takes the epic story of war, love and betrayal and rewrites it in a way that is appealing to children. “The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War” uses short sentences and colorful verbiage to make the story of the Trojan Horse easy to follow for young readers. Accompanying the story is an array of full-color images that allow children to visualize the events as they read about them.
“Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters” is an award-winning book tailored specifically towards teens. In addition to the stories themselves, “Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters” features extra information which shows how the myths tie into geography, constellations and even modern culture. The book itself serves as an excellent entry point into the world of Greek mythology, with the end of the book directing readers to additional books if they want to learn more about a particular story or character.
3. A Child’s Introduction to Greek Mythology: The Stories of the Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, Monsters, and Other Mythical Creatures
For younger children, “A Child’s Introduction to Greek Mythology: The Stories of the Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, Monsters, and Other Mythical Creatures” makes for an excellent starting point into the world of Greek mythology. “A Child’s Introduction to Greek Mythology: The Stories of the Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, Monsters, and Other Mythical Creatures” is split into two parts so that young readers can better understand the stories. The first section of the book covers the major heroes and gods along with monsters such as satyrs and centaurs. The second part of the book covers the myths themselves and includes stories such as “Pandora’s Box” and “The Trojan Horse.”
While many Greek mythology books for children try to cover as many stories as possible, “Greek Mythology Books for Kids: A Collection of Greek Stories and Greek Gods for Children” focuses on just three: “Arachne and Athena,” “Pandora’s Box” and “Phaeton and Helios.” In addition to these three stories, the book also provides biographies on 20 of the most important characters in Greek mythology. The book also shows young readers how these characters have influenced art and media in the current day.
Rather than focus on the stories themselves, “Greek Mythology: Greek Gods Of Ancient Greece And Other Greek Myths” focuses on the characters. Over 25 different characters in Greek mythology are profiled in “Greek Mythology: Greek Gods Of Ancient Greece And Other Greek Myths.” With each entry, you’ll learn about the tales and accomplishments that are tied to each hero and god as well.
Reading bedtime stories to children is a daily ritual for parents across the globe. “Classic Myths to Read Aloud: The Great Stories of Greek and Roman Mythology” is a book about Greek mythology specially designed to read to children ages five and up at bedtime. The stories are not just entertaining for children to listen to but they will enthrall parents of all ages as well. At the beginning of each myth is a short introduction along with a summary that shows how the story relates to the modern day.
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