Myths and Myths Retold

Legends and myths have always fascinated me. I've been looking into them since I was little, and I am no less interested in them now. So, I figure, why not spread the joy?

Greek and Roman mythology are quite similar. In fact, some might say that the Romans essentially copied their earlier counterparts. Both cultures' stories are extremely telling; they include tales ranging from the long-loved IIiad, Odyssey, and Aeneid, to the more modern tellings of Rick Riordan's demi-god Percy Jackson, or the Odyssey parallels of James Joyce's Ulysses and the Cohen Brother's cinematic O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Egyptian mythology is quite different from the former two, though, oddly enough, Riordan also came out with a book based off of it.

Celtic mythology gives us stories like The Táin (Táin Bó Cúailnge), which has been interpreted in many ways, including in the music of The Decemberists.

Nordic mythology gives us the days of the week. Today, as we all know, is Frigga's Day. One of the Scaldic poets, Snorri Sturluson, might be of particular interest here. Though, if you're looking for something more contemporary, The Sea of Trolls series includes some really cool Vikings.

Perhaps the single book that most closely relates to this blog and its forms of mythology is Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Library Journal describes it as "the vast and bloody landscape of myths and legends where the gods of yore and the neoteric gods of now conflict in modern-day America."

Comments

Oooh, myths, excellent.

For simple stories of the Gods I highly recommend D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths, and Norse Gods and Giants. All youth books written by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire, with the most beautiful illustrations to go along with the stories.


I glanced briefly at the Kalevala, an epic poem that many believe to be one of the most important works of Finnish writing. I hope to find the time someday to read it in its entirety - it looked full of exciting myth, legend, and folklore that was similar to The Odyssey, but unique enough to be totally captivating.


Don't forget The Metamorphoses by Ovid. It is a wonderful poem that contains versions of many of the Greek and Roman myths we find as allusions in literature and in mythology collections including Edith Hamilton's and Bulfinch's respective, respect-worthy works. Its also one of the reasons why we have the not always entirely correct notion that Romans just borrowed from the Greeks.

. . .May I look again
on Polyphemus and those open jaws
Dripping with human blood, if ever I call
My home and Ithaca more friendly to me,
More of a haven this ship has been,
Whose captain, kinder to me than a father,
I owe more gratitude than I can pay.
I speak, I breathe, I see the stars and sunlight,
Because he saved me: should I not be thankful?
Because of him my life escaped the jaws
Of Polyphemus; were I, now, to leave
The light of life, I should, at least, be buried
In a decent tomb, and not that monster's belly.

Great stuff, all of it! Good blog to bring it all together.


For Gaiman's take on African mythology, try Anansi Boys. It's a little more lighthearted than American Gods, but still an exciting read. The audio is particularly good.


He also wrote Coraline i think