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The Greek myths

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This beautifully imagined Folio edition includes newly commissioned, hand-painted illustrations that vividly depict the myths. With a novelist’s skill and a poet’s eye, Graves draws on the entire canon of ancient literature, bringing together all the elements of every myth into one epic and unforgettable story.

Graves decides that Hera’s marriage to Zeus represents (and commemorates) conquests of Crete and Mycenae, because Zeus “probably came to [Hera] disguised as a bedraggled cuckoo, in the sense that certain Hellenes who came to Crete as fugitives accepted employment in the royal guard, made a palace conspiracy, and seized the kingdoms. Many of the heroes were spared from an early death by compassionate shepherds, or even female animals who nursed them. The second book gets deeper into the actual mythological stories such as Jason and the Argonauts, Heracles, the Trojan War, and Odysseus. You might like to consider the Loeb Classical Library edition of The Library by Apollodorus translated by James G Frazer - he of The Golden Bough.

He then has a paragraph where he adds “others say”, or “it’s said elsewhere” that it was in fact the named character that killed the king or if he did it was with a bow and arrow, or that it was the kings wife who killed him and then killed the named character and was then turned into an olive tree as punishment by the Gods. Most of the rapes of early Greek myth can be explained by the invading Hellenes conquering goddess shrines, according to Graves. In addition the links to references and the material added to better understand the myths which are so useful for treating this as a reference, definitely get in the way of telling the story. King Aegeus, father of Theseus, jumping into the Aegean Sea and Icarus falling into the Icarian Sea are two of MANY examples). The book of essays is selected from "Myths of the World", which has been compiled and written by famous mythologists.

Robert Graves’s comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths has been regarded for over half a century as the definitive version.

The question is largely rhetorical, I have other sources of Greek myths, just wondered if anyone else was disappointed by him. Notes: These books and their slipcover are in very good condition, besides a smudge mark on the back of the slipcase and some minor corner wear to the volumes. During the early 1970s Graves began to suffer from increasingly severe memory loss, and by his eightieth birthday in 1975 he had come to the end of his working life. Each myth is presented in the voice of a narrator, and each God or Goddess is introduced as they are born.

The second is a dull and po-faced commentary on the myths which essentially boils down to a master myth of a sacred king being killed in various different ways. Myth, from a phenomenological point of view, narrates the creation, emergence, and history of the ancient gods, the worldview, and the destiny of nations, and nations.

In addition to Greek myths, he published collections of Norse and Egyptian myths, Arthurian legends, the stories of Robin Hood and stories from Shakespeare. All jokes aside: the fact that Graves is nigh-ubiquitously dismissed in modern-day classics as a pseudoscientific conspiracy theorist with some incredibly weird ideas about women and about the formation of mythology in general (as well as someone who appeared to genuinely believe he had communicated with the Roman emperor Claudius) is a goddamn relief, given the unfortunate prevalence of conspiracy theory-esque nonsense masquerading as genuine scholarship. He fought in World War I and won international acclaim in 1929 with the publication of his memoir of the First World War, Good-bye to All That. I paid a lot more for it than I should have done but I knew that a pay cheque was around the corner and now it sits in my lounge.

There are many far, far better introductory compilations of Greek myths that don’t tout about nonsense conspiracy theories. At the Battle of the Somme he was so badly wounded by a shell-fragment through the lung that he was expected to die, and indeed was officially reported as 'died of wounds'.

Robert Graves believes in some really weird things, like that pre-Hellenic Greece was a matriarchal society that believed in a "Mother Goddess" or "Triple Goddess" that was common to all Eastern Mediterranean worship. He also fills in the gaps those two poems leave, letting us know how the Trojan War began and what happened to some of the key players such as Achilles, who is alive in the Iliad, but already dead in the Odyssey. If you’re interested in a comparison between the original books and the smaller multi-part volumes that Folio also released a few years later for some of these editions – whilst the text is identical and the obvious difference is size, I believe the most important distinction is in the illustrations – the single volume editions contains beautiful two-colour images, whilst the illustrations in the smaller cheaper sets are produced only in black and white. Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus represent to him "three successive Hellenic invasions, commonly known as Ionian, Aeolian, and Achaean. It’s the same size as the others, but the spine design doesn’t match; however I include it in my set.

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