MYTHOS by Stephen Fry

Oh, for God’s sake, we don’t need ANOTHER book about Greek myths that we all already know about!

If you thought of something like this at any time, I would kindly, politely, but firmly inform you that – you are so worng.

YOU NEED this book. Moreover, this is the only collection of Greek myths you will EVER need.

I know you know. I know you think you know. And I know you don’t even know half the ballad.

Don’t get mad, and I thought I knew. I am relatively well educated person, and even now and then I dare considered myself moderate to optimal well-read.

After all, I remember as a little older child enjoying some TV shows recounting the most famous Greek myths; I remember drawings on vases, curly hair, eagle noses, rope-tied white sheets around narrow waists, sandals, thunder, figures drawn from profiles that even today I secretly think men are not much different from women, so I found it hard to believe that, say, Aphrodite (who looks almost the same as Odysseus, only with tits and long hair), was the most beautiful creature seen by both gods and humans…

Everyone who was a child there in the early 1990s will surely remember the same educational shows. And you may have read Percy Jackson, so you’ll think you’ve been reminded of everything. I understand. And I repeat – you have no clue.

Intercourse of the personal, social and sexual kind with the gods was as normal to men and women of the Silver Age as intercourse with machines and AI assistens is to s today. And, I dare say, a great deal more fun.

MYTHOS by Stephen Fry

I had some vague idea that Zeus and Co. they are not the first Greek gods, but I did not know who THE first gods were and in what order and arrangement they appeared or who made whom and to whom they gave birth.

I remember when I was trying to find or reconstruct the family tree of the Greek gods on the Internet, to end up with 3 sheets of paper full of incoherent scribbles and a persistent headache. After reading this book, I was comforted that I couldn’t blame myself for it. When the author explains everything to a person nicely, meaningfully and picturesquely, the reader’s aha-moments just line up one after the other.

I mean, if someone told you that there is a series of books in which you will meet hundreds of characters and that you will remember a good part of them, you would tell him that you doubled the therapy. Still, George R. R. Martin did a miracle; as I have said a hundred times so far, the man writes so that it is easier for me to remember members of more generations of some famous family from Westeros than to remember the names of the children of friends with whom I went to high school.

“Mythos” came into my hands at the right time. It couldn’t have been better. I had just completed the phenomenal “Circe” by Madeline Miller and I wasn’t ready to leave the world of Greek myths and legends. I was lucky. I took “Mythos” and just dived even deeper into that wonderful, wild world.

“The Greeks created gods that were in their image; warlike but creative, wise but ferocious, loving but jealous, tender but brutal, compassionate, but vengeful.”

MYTHOS by Stephen Fry

Did you know, for example, that the gods of Olympus are only the third generation of Greek gods?

Did you know – okay, you must have known this – that Aphrodite was made of sea foam? We all have somewhere in our long-term memory stored that famous Botticelli painting, “The Birth of Venus”. The most beautiful of the most beautiful stepped out of the agitated sea. And do you know what made it foamy? 😀

I honestly didn’t know, and when I found out, I first laughed to myself like an imbecile, and then I took my cell phone and wrote to the girls in the Viber group: “Well, women, do you know about that Greek goddess, Aphrodite? You know how she was created? “

Did you know that there are dragons in Greek mythology as well? Seriously.

Did you know that some events from Greek myths take place in the areas that today, roughly, are occupied by this country of mine?

Did you know that Zeus was plagued by occasional headaches because of the woman who “made” him smart and wise? It’s not Hera.

Do you know why North Africa is such a hopeless desert? Because of permissive parenting.

Do you know which goddess deviated from her status as a goddess, and who took her place?

“It is probably best for us not to concentrate in too literal a fashion on the temporal structure of myth.”

MYTHOS by Stephen Fry

You wouldn’t believe how many biblical stories were simply copied from Greek mythology. Yes, just like many people write books (or, say, reviews) – they pick up all the text, change a couple of names and stick their name on it. Be sure to read the story of Philemon and Baukida.

In the first two chapters of the book, you will recall, in detail, the origins of a world that would later be inhabited by the gods and those who would descend from them. In the other two chapters you will get to know the people and their creator and you will remember the price he paid for humanity. You will also remember how Zeus played with human and human destinies, as well as the destinies of other gods and demigods.

What is missing here are stories of heroes; as the author himself says in the preface, if he had also included their stories in this collection, the book would have been so difficult that even Titan could not move it from its place. Although I have nothing against the idea of having a book on my shelf whose book blog is 20 centimeters thick, I will pretend to trust Stephen Fry. Just because I hope this one will be followed by another book that will contain everything that didn’t fit in these 400 pages.

Although the Greek gods have always resembled humans, both in their physical attributes and in their virtues and flaws, Stephen Fry made them even closer to us humans with his humorous narration; to us, the readers.

The author’s careful and patient explanation, pictorial presentation of important mythological scenes, dramatic and touching situations, interesting and entertaining dialogues make this book force you to compulsive reading.

“Painters, poets and philosophers have seen many things in the myth of Sisyphus. They have seen an image of the absurdity of human life, the futility of effort, the remorseless cruelty of fate, the unconquerable power of gravity. But they have seen too something of mankind’s courage, resilience, fortitude, endurance and self-belief. They see something heroic in our refusal to submit.”

MYTHOS by Stephen Fry

One of my favorite stories actually surprised me when she stood out as my favorite. I expected it to be the story of Persephone, which I already love very much. I expected to be thrilled by the story of Eros and Psyche. But in the end, the story of Arachna struck me the most. For some reason, the betrayal of that girl really shook me.

I was shocked by who did her injustice and why, as well as the message about how an incredible talent is “rewarded” when it collides with the ego and the need to preserve a bright reputation at all costs, under whose glow so much dirt is hidden…

I heartily recommend that you get it, but I must mention that it will probably be too short for you. That’s why I recommend you read it before, after, or in parallel with Madeline Miller’s book “Circe”; two memorable books in a perfect combination.

This title definitely goes on the list of the best books read in 2020.

1 thought on “MYTHOS by Stephen Fry”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s