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Best Greek Mythology Books
for Adults & Kids

Best Greek Mythology Books

Date
24 February 2021

Delve into the epic and magical world of Greek mythology. From the epic poems of Homer to fictional worlds of modern writers inspired by Greek Mythology, this is a list of the best - or, more appropriately, our favorite - 20 Greek mythology books (for adults and kids). Books that we, as Greeks and mythology lovers, definitely recommend.

Image after introtext
A collection of our favorite Greek mythology books

1. The Iliad, by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles (1998)

The Iliad, together with the Odyssey, is a great epic poem, not only of Greek but also of world’s literature, which was handed down to us in their entirety. Its date of writing is placed in the second half of the 8th century BC. The composition of the Iliad precedes that of the Odyssey and is placed around 750 BC. The Iliad is an epic journey of love, war, gods and heroes concerning the 10-year long Greco-Trojan war. It is about 3,500 verses larger than the Odyssey (15,693 verses) and is divided into 24 rhapsodies (like the Odyssey), as many as the letters of the Greek alphabet.

The cover of the Iliad

2. The Odyssey, by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles (1996)

This epic Homeric poem follows the events of the Iliad. Its writing dates back to the 8th-7th century BC. It is about the journey of war heroes taking the road of return to Greece and their home. The story follows the adventures of the great Odysseus (Ulysses); an adventurous journey that lasted ten years. At the same time, we see his eager anticipation to return to his wife and the countless years (20) of his wife waiting for his return while trying to ward off her suitors. Enjoy the adventures of the heroes whose stories are being passed down from generation to generation for more than 2500 years!

Cover of the Odyssey

3. The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood (2005)

Myths are universal and timeless parables that reflect and shape our lives - they explore our desires and fears, and give us stories that remind us of the essence of the human condition. Αtwood writes a powerful, enjoyable, and rebellious myth challenging the patriarchy of Greek Mythology.

4. Circe, by Madeline Miller (2018)

This is one of our most favorite Greek Mythology books. The atmosphere it creates is truly unique and somewhat 'different'. Very often, women in ancient Greek mythology are classified into two categories: they are either murderous or virtuous and tragic pawns with a negligible effect. Circe is different. She is born in the house of a mighty titan, daughter of the God Son, Helios. She is one of the few women of antiquity who is allowed to have power and is not punished for it at the end of the story. It is neither malicious nor innocent, but complex. It represents the female power and this causes and frightens. She is the woman who has more power than society says she should have. Miller, with great lyricism and mastery, weaves the character of Circe transferring her mythical adventures to the present and proving how relevant her story remains.

Cover of the Greek mythology book Circe

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5. Gods behaving badly, by Marie Phillips (2013)

Being a Greek god is not easy anymore and it has nothing to do with being a god in ancient times. Artemis is a dog-walker, Apollo is a psychic on TV, Aphrodite is a phone sex operator, Dionysus is a DJ of all things! 12 gods cramped in a London apartment. Too many siblings, too many hormones and not enough hot water. Life is hard for an Olympian God in the 21st century! Philips writes a charming, satisfying novel while turning the literature world upside down.

The book Gods Behaving Badly

6. The Complete World of Greek Mythology, by Richard Buxton (2004)

Greek mythοlogy fascinates from the very first millennium to date, and the myths have been repeated in an endless range of variations, interpretations and different versions. They have been made into movies, TV shows and video games. In this book, you will find a combination of Greek myths with an inclusive description of the world in which they were created - their themes, the Greek religion and society, and their relationship to the Greek landscape.

Cover of the Complete World of Greek Mythology

7. Theogony by Hesiod, translated by M.L. West (1999)

“At first there was Chaos…” Theogony is a poetic textbook of cosmology, in which we follow the fictional inspiration of the epic poet who sets up for the ancient greek world the genealogy of polytheism. This book nowadays serves as a reference to most of the myths and the original versions of Greek legends. In other words, this is THE Greek Mythology book! Enjoy the most epic story about the creation of the world.

The book Theogony

8. Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths, by Lawrence J. Hatab (1990)

Is there truth to myths? This book considers the historical alteration from myth to philosophy in ancient Greece. Explore the roles and the themes that played a key role in that transformation.

9.  The Greek plays: Sixteen plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, Edited by Mary Lefkovitz and James Romm (2016)

In the middle of the 6th century BC, in one of the Municipalities of Attica that surrounded Athens, the Greek Drama was born. This poetic genre that so lightly made its first appearance took decades to evolve and reach its final completion. The drama represented and brought to life an event that unfolded in front of the audience, as its name implies. This book contains a milestone anthology of the masterpieces of Greek drama, featuring very accessible translations of some of the world’s most favorite plays.

Cover of the book The Greek Plays

10. Minotaur, by Philip W. Simpson (2015)

The Minotaur shook his huge head and his eyes became like glass under the weight of thousand-year-old memories. Thus begins the story of Asterion, who describes his childhood in Crete, the abuse by his stepfather, King Minos, the adventures with his friend Theseus, his love for the beautiful Phaedra and what really happened in the labyrinth. Simpson gives another version of the Minotaur myth which claims that he was not the terrible man-eating monster described in the stories. It makes for a very intriguing reading!

The Greek Mythology Book Minotaur

11. Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold, by Stephen Fry (2017)

This is one of the best-known Greek Mythology books. Known for his exuberant personality, the author attempts to tell some stories of Greek mythology, "sprinkling" them with imaginary dialogues and it is absolutely delightful! It focuses on the gods of ancient Greece. Fry's book "Mythos" reminds us in its own way that the myths of antiquity reflected people and that the gods with their many mistakes were very human, despite the fact that they themselves were not in danger of suffering as much as their mortal idols.

Tip! This book is also available as an audiobook and you can listen to it for free with a free trial.

Mythos Greek Mythology Book

12. Alcestis, by Katharine Beutner (2010)

In Greek myth, Alcestis is known as the ideal figure of wife that she loved her husband so much that she was willing to die for him and take his place in the underworld. And so she did, but what’s her back story? In this book, Beutner gives a story, a purpose and a reason behind Alcestis’ sacrifice, making our heroin a major player in the Greek mythology realm.

Cover of the novel Alcestis

13. Helen of Troy, by Margaret George (2006)

A story about, beauty, love and death. A beautiful Greek princess and a prince from another very powerful country fall in love and run away. The Trojan war compelling as ever. Inspired by Homer’s Iliad, this book focuses on the subjects that will be forever intriguing to humankind: love and war.

Cover of the book Helen of Troy

14. Hot as Hades, by Alisha Rai (2011)

A huge kingdom to run, immortal problems, dead people to order around and difficult siblings to deal with. It is definitely not easy being Hades. Some may also say that our dear god of the Underworld might have a heart when a beautiful lady lands on his kingdom. What will he do? Will he follow his undying heart? Rai gives us a delightful insight into how it is to be Hades, the god of the Underworld.

15. The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code, by Margalit Fox (2013)

A scholarly mystery about the unique Minoan Linear B. The tablets that were discovered and Arthur Evans, the archaeologist who discovered them, along with the Palace of Knossos, are the protagonists of this Greek mythology book. Discover the magic of linguistics in the mystifying kingdom of the Minoan Crete.

The Riddle of the Labyrinth Mythology Book

16. Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters, by Donna Jo Napoli (2011)

The stories of this impressive book never cease to amaze. The lyrical narratives take us to the land of myth, from the birth of the gods to the turbulent Trojan War, revealing the magical and occult lives of heroes who have captured the interest of the people since ancient times. With fascinating stories about gods and goddesses, heroes and monsters, and impressive, original illustrations, this book is a mythological epic that will enchant you. Bear witness to the might of Zeus, the king of the Olympians, the seducing powers of Aphrodite, the tricks of the Messenger God, Hermes, the labors of Hercules, and many more stories.

Cover of the Book Treasury of Greek Mythology

17. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, by Ingri d’Aulaire (1962)

D’Aulaire’s book of myths is a vibrant read. In this book, which is in print for more than 50 years, you can find all the greats of ancient Greek Mythology: gods, goddesses, heroes, monsters, legends, and all their stories as if they were alive today!

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths

18. Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths, by Bernard Evslin (1966)

From the demigod Perseus and the dreadful Medusa to the mighty Zeus, whose thunderbolts can shake the earth to the ground, and to the great minotaur, a beast who was half-man and half-bull, this is a world of magic and exploration in the depths of Greek mythology!

Heroes Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths

19. Women and Power: A manifesto by Mary Beard (2017)

From Medusa to Philomela, and Hillary Clinton to Elizabeth Warren, the author draws parallels from mythology to compare our cultural assumptions on women’s relationship to power and how those powerful women are being portraited in ancient modern society. It provides a great example for all women out there who must resist attaching themselves to the male outline.

20. Percy Jackson & the Olympians, by Rick Riordan (2005)

Percy Jackson & the Olympians is a series of fantasy books that get inspiration from Greek mythology. The first book of the series is called Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Troublemaker Percy Jackson has problems at school, but that's the least he should worry about. Although we are in the 21st century, the Gods of Olympus seem to have sprung from the books of mythology in real life. Percy learns that his real father is Poseidon, the god of the sea, which means that Percy is a demigod. At the same time, Ζeus accuses Percy of stealing his lightning, which is a weapon of mass destruction. A shocking adventure, which hides countless dangers, begins for Percy! Are you ready to join?

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Mythology Book

The above 20 titles is a good start for any mythology fan who wants to read and enjoy a good book on Greek mythology. Of course, there are many more excellent books on the subject and many more stories to be explored.

See also:

 

About the author: Our team at Greek TravelTellers consists of academics and lovers of Greek culture. Our vision is to convey our knowledge and Greek values through unique tours and experiences. Through our blog, we hope to bring Greek history and culture closer to you. Feel free to learn more about us.

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