Greek Mythology is a fascinating topic for study. It’s difficult to find written sources of Greek mythology because the medium used to transmit information was primarily spoken, or via song. The classic Illiad by Homer was originally spoken, before it was transformed to the written form.
Often the Gods were used to describe natural phenomena, which at the time had no explanation. When lightning lit of the sky, it wasn’t a natural occurrence; Zeus was angry and each mortal in the storm may think they are the reason, or know the reason for Zeus’ fury.
The Greek Gods have been popularized and stylized in different ways which leads to many incorrect beliefs and incorrect understandings of the importance of different gods. For example, Ares the Greek god of war was often seen as a nuisance because of his brash attitude and connection with the more violent and chaotic aspects of war, and he had few temples dedicated to his worship.
Dionysus, the God of wine and fertility, was a much more important influence on Greek culture than Ares. Dionysus embodied the cycle of life, referenced by the life of a grape on the vine. He was worshipped by many, and was often a staple of theater in ancient Rome.
Books are an excellent and available resource to learn about Greek Mythology. Hopefully you can one day travel to Greece so you can see the remnants of mythological culture. You may also be able to find a museum in your area that has mythological artifacts.
Greek Mythology Books
Mythology – Edith Hamilton
Mythology retells ancient myths like Hercules, Medusa, but also covers many of the Greek Gods like Apollo, and Athena. Mythology goes beyond the Greek Myths and explores Norse Mythology, and, the Roman version of the Greek myths too.
Mythology is a great book to have because of how many myths are covered. Mythology was published in 1942 and is still relevant today.
Treasury of Greek Mythology – Donna Jo Napoli
Treasury of Greek Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli is the best-selling Children’s Greek Mythology book on Amazon. It’s known for having beautiful illustrations created by Christina Balit.
This book is also for adults. The information about Myth is accurate, the only difference is the vocabulary is simpler which does not subtract from the quality of content.
D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths
Daulaires’ book of Greek Myths is a children’s book with beautiful illustrations, first published in 1962. The book covers titans, Gods, heroes, stories, and more.
Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths – Bernard Evslin
Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths is similar to other books in this list that devote a section to each mythological God, monster, or myth. From the beginning it’s clear to see how passionate Bernard Evslin is about mythology.
Classical Mythology 11th Edition – Mark Morford
Classical Mythology is a mythology textbook that’s on its 12th edition. This is the most thorough resource listed, published by Oxford University.
Classical Myth 9th Edition – Barry Powell
Barry B Powell.
Classical Myth is a Mythology textbook containing illustrations, original texts from Myths, translations, and examples of the impact of Greek Mythology & drama on the arts of modern society; film-making, dance, literature and more..
Barry B. Powell is a master of Greek Mythology and wrote many books on the subject, both fiction and non-fiction. His books are often used in the college classroom, and he’s translating Homer’s Odyssey himself; one of the oldest books in the world, featured below in the books from the past.
The Best Greek Mythology Books From The Past
The Iliad – Homer
The Iliad, written by Homer–a poet– hundreds of years before Christ, is an epic story of the Ten Year Trojan war and the heroic arc of Odysseus; and is the first book in the duo of the Iliad and the Odyssey; Homer’s more famous book.
The Iliad was translated many times. This edition by Caroline Alexander is the best rated translation of the Iliad.
The Odyssey – Homer
The Odyssey takes place after the end of the ten year long Trojan war. Odysseus travels back home to Greece, but, the journey takes ten-years and multiple obstacles, monsters, and tragedies await him on his journey.
Metamorphoses – Ovid
Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a 15-book epic, similar to the epic written by Homer containing the Iliad and the Odyssey. The overall theme across each book is metamorphosis. The book has influenced many great artists, like Shakespeare since it was published in 8AD.
Theogony and Works and Days – Hesiod
Known as the Hesiodic poems, there are two books here, the first being Theogony, which is an account of the struggles of the mythological Greek gods, and Work and Days, which is philosophical and moral advice for farming and living off the land.
Aesop may or may not even be a real person; he could have been a legend. Historically he was described as a slave, but other sources say he was a free man, and possibly a philosopher. The reason why some believe he could have been a slave is the cleverness associated with the animals of the fables, that could be a reference to escaping from bondage, but that theory is not confirmed.
Some of the Fables you have likely heard of, like the Tortoise and the Hare, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Other Fables include The Fox and the Grapes, The Ant and the Grasshopper, and more.
The Epic Of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh is not a Greek Mythology book so this is a bonus. The Epic of Gilgamesh comes from ancient Mesopotamia, and is considered the oldest surviving text known to man.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story about Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Enkidu is a wild-man who becomes civilized after a romp with a prostitute, then, loses to Gilgamesh in a contest of strength; later, the two embark on a massive journey worthy of two heroes.
The original epic was written across 12 stone tablets and was published around 2100 BC.
What books are we missing? Let us know and we’ll update this.