Ancient Greece Mythology

D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths

Book cover: 'D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths'
Author(s): 
Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire
Copyright: 
1962
Publisher: 
Delacorte Books
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
192 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This was first published in 1962 and is a wonderful book of Greek mythology. It tells the stories of the gods, goddesses, and heroes of Ancient Greece. Details of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey are included, as well as the Argo, the Argonauts, and Jason's quest for the golden fleece. Some of the references of the legends are sparce and would need further references. (I would recommend Padric Colum's books, The Golden Fleece and The Children's Homer.) The book is highlighted with beautiful drawings, elaborate family trees, and a large map. More than half of these pictures are in colour-an added bonus.

You can purchase this paperback or hardcover book from most homeschool companies or better bookstores. Perhaps your local library would have a copy on it's shelves that you could borrow? It can be used for a variety of ages. Younger children would like it as a 'read aloud' and older students would enjoy it as an excellent introduction to greek mythology. All in all, it is a classic retelling of Greek myths and legends, and belongs on every homeschool bookshelf.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

The Genealogy of Greek Mythology

Book cover: 'The Genealogy of Greek Mythology'
Author(s): 
Vanessa James
Copyright: 
2003
Publisher: 
Gotham Books (a division of Penguin)
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
107 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

"An Illustrated Family Tree of Greek Myth from the First Gods to the Founders of Rome" This unique fold-out book helps readers make connections between various classical stories from sources such as: Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles by organizing them into a "family tree". One side of the chart depicts the "gods" and the other side shows their mortal offspring. The interconnecting red lines between sides help you easily trace the connections and the book can easily be flipped from side to side when a small portion is unfolded. Roman names of each of the gods are presented along with the anglicized Greek names.

One nice thing is that the chart is entirely illustrated with full-color reproductions of classical Greek artwork, statuary, etc. It nicely complements the written information. Small text-boxes summarize the stories of the principal characters. Be forewarned, though, that there are plenty of classical nudes and one illustration and text box explaining the story of Apollo and Hyacinth, while subtle enough to be missed by young children, might make some parents uncomfortable (a rather primitive illustration of two male nudes embracing).

The reader will naturally understand that although many parts of Greek Mythology are based on historical fact, a great deal of it is fictitious and studied for the purposes of understanding Ancient Greek literature and culture. Quite rightly, after introducing that, the author's tone treats the events and characters as true and historical, with a few explanations here and there such as: "The Greeks assigned human bodies to concepts such as love and hate. This kind of personification was a device that helped to describe and explain the mysteries of the natural environment and of human behavior." (pg. 7)

The fold-out format is neat (you can open up a segment of the desired length to study - a little like a scroll) and fairly sturdy (printed on heavy cardstock), however it isn't particularly friendly for small children who might twist and tear it if they attempt to open it. Although I wouldn't object to having this around the house and it could be used as a supplement to classical studies in high school, it's probably best suited as a gift book for college students and adults who are particularly interested in mythology.

Here are a few words from the author from her website that might be helpful in further understanding this resource:

"As I fit the family trees together and researched their literary origins my chart began to grow in all directions. It is at this point that I knew that I should try to make it conform to a rough timeline so that, for instance, all the participants in the Trojan War could be located horizontally within three generations. I re-read Homer, Hesiod, Apollonius Rhodius, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Eurypides; Vergil and Ovid, making notes and consulting old and new classical dictionaries. I became fascinated with the complexity of the family relationships that bound these extraordinary characters together and affected every aspect of their lives. The big surprise was that almost every one seemed to be related to someone else.

I found myself learning about mythological history through genealogy. On rereading, for instance, the Iliad, minor characters that I had previously overlooked now leapt freshly to life as real people who I could recognize from their family connections. These myths about friendship, passion and retribution all began to make very personal sense to me. It is interesting to observe the continuing power and pleasure that these stories still exert over our minds to this day." - Vanessa James

Additional notes: 

double-sided fold-out chart with slipcase - over 17 feet long!

Donated for review by Penguin-Putnam

Review Date: 
3-17-04
Reviewed by: 

The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus

Book cover: 'The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus'
Author(s): 
Aliki
Copyright: 
1994
Publisher: 
Harper Collins
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
48 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This 48-page picture book is designed to introduce early-elementary-aged children to the myths of Ancient Greece through text and pictures. We have several books in our family library by Aliki, and I was prepared to enjoy this one just as much. However, I was disappointed in both the artwork and the presentation of the myths.

The first pictures in the book are somewhat dark and eerie, and I would hesitate to show them to a young child. As the book progresses, the pictures take on more form and color, but they are rather intense. There are some very upsetting pictures of babies being eaten and subsequently brought back up, as well as evil, violent scenes that would be shocking to all but the most worldly child. I also disliked the many pictures with almost-total nudity and women clad in transparent clothing.

There are many, many versions of the most familiar Greek myths, and some are more suitable to children than others. These very brief retellings of the myths focus on the adult aspects of the relationships between the various gods and goddesses, to the exclusion of details that are more appropriate for the attention of a child. The author also makes the point that (p.48): "Even today, the gods are valued for their human qualities, their humor, their lessons, and their wisdom." This is simply untrue in our Catholic home; interesting, perhaps, but not "valued". This book is not recommended.

Review Date: 
4-19-01
Reviewed by: