Wrapping up the Greece portion of our adventure wouldn’t be complete without offering you some books to dive into before (or during) your own adventure.
1. The Iliad - Homer
“Dating to the ninth century B.C., Homer’s timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves inexorably to the wrenching, tragic conclusion of the Trojan War. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox observes in his superb introduction that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it coexists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace.
Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles, winner of the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic. He maintains the drive and metric music of Homer’s poetry, and evokes the impact and nuance of the Iliad’s mesmerizing repeated phrases in what Peter Levi calls “an astonishing performance.” “
2. Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller
“Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.”
3. The Greek Myths - Robert Graves
“Combines in a single volume the complete text of the definitive two-volume classic, citing all the ancient myths. For a full appreciation of literature or visual art, knowledge of the Greek myths is crucial. In this much-loved collection, poet and scholar Robert Graves retells the immortal stories of the Greek myths. Demeter mourning her daughter Persephone, Icarus flying too close to the sun, Theseus and the Minotaur … all are captured here with the author’s characteristic erudition and flair.
The Greek Myths is the culmination of years of research and careful observation, however what makes this collection extraordinary is the imaginative and poetic style of the retelling. Drawing on his experience as a novelist and poet, Graves tells the fantastic stories of Ancient Greece in a style that is both absorbing and easy for the general reader to understand. Each story is accompanied by Graves’ interpretation of the origins and deeper meaning of the story, giving a reader an unparalleled insight into the customs and development of the Greek world.”
4. The Odyssey - Homer
If the Iliad is the world’s greatest war epic, then the Odyssey is literature’s grandest evocation of everyman’s journey though life. Odysseus’ reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces, during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, is at once a timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance.
In the myths and legends that are retold here, Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer’s original in a bold, contemporary idiom, and given us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery.
Renowned classicist Bernard Knox’s superb Introduction and textual commentary provide new insights and background information for the general reader and scholar alike, intensifying the strength of Fagles’ translation.
This is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the public at large, and to captivate a new generation of Homer’s students.
5. Circe - Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
And of course, that doesn’t even break the surface. There are so many book regarding Greek Mythology and all of the stories they encompass. I personally love the tales, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like more recommendations.
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