Book Review: Mythos by Stephen Fry

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The absolutely excellent Stephen Fry has done it again ladies and gentlemen!

Having never studied Classics and knowing very little about Greek Mythology (aside what Disney’s Hercules taught me) I was excited to pick this book up and give it a go. It’s something i’m so interested in, having visited Greece and the ancient world several times- and being massively into art and sculpture- and honestly- if you’re a total Greek Myths novice- this one is a solid choice.

The first thing is, that Stephen Fry is a bloody national treasure. He writes so beautifully and never allows you to feel stupid or patronized by what he’s saying. There’s enough academia and research in this book to allow you to actually learn something, but he’s also witty and finds the humour in several fairly gory stories.

The book is in short- a retelling of the classics from Gaia, Kronos and the conception of man- to Pandora, Hades, Prometheus and Pygmallion.

A lot of the stories began to ring bells as I was reading this and it was interesting to refresh the stories that you might have heard of but unveil more details about them.

(Did you know that Pandora’s box is a mistranslation? She actually had a vase. – this is the kind of crap that Luke has had to put up with all week as I tell him my fun facts!)

This book reminds me a little of the Horrible Histories that I used to read as a child. Although it’s not quite as childlike, Mythos is definitely a more approachable and easily told version of the Greek Myths.

There are elements of incest, rape and violence (hardly to be avoided if you’re talking about Greek Gods, so it’s definitely not one to read to your kids) – but I think that he handles them so maturely and delicatly that it’s in no way offputting or a reason to avoid this.

Fry also elaborates on the stories and the linguistics and things in our modern Western world that have come from these stories.

Having studied sociology I’m so interested in how society came to be and the fact that there’s a lot of background knowledge alongside the stories really interested me.

Mythos is one of those books where I’ve felt the need to talk to everyone about it and encourage them to read it.

Absolutely ace. 5/5.

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