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Book Title: The Greek Myths: Illustrated Edition|
The author of the book: Robert Graves
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Reader ratings: 7.8
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: December 1st 1992
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Format files: PDF
The size of the: 918 KB
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The Folio Society published this rather splendid two volume book of The Greek Myths by Robert Graves in 1996. I purchased it then but I basically only looked at it from time to time when I wanted to know about certain myths or gods, and thus there was always something that I could look up which would give me pleasure.
This is not a book for the faint-hearted as, well to me anyway, it is an excellent reference book that I will pick up from time to time and browse through it or look for further information. I don’t think that I could actually have sat down and read this from cover to cover as there is too much factual information and some of the names can be quite confusing.
Also there were certain facts that I had in my head that I certainly proved to be wrong here. Little things I know but I always thought that it was Pandora’s box and not the jar and I had never even heard of The Sprites until I arrived at this part of the book. Also the Minotaur, well my own interpretation of that was completely wrong.
But when you think about the Greek Myths, it wasn’t until I went through this introduction that I found out the following:
The Romans, who annexed Greece in the second century BC, modified the Olympian religion to include their own local gods and practices, but otherwise simply took Greek stories over lock, stock and barrel. Sometimes names were changed (as when Aphrodite became Venus or Odysseus Ulysses); sometimes they were actually spelled differently (as when Asclepius became Aesculapius); sometimes no changes at all were made, so that stories with a particular Green location (such as the spring of Hippocrene near Thebes, created when the winged horse Pegasus stamped his hoof on a rock) were accepted quite happily by people who had never otherwise heard of, or seen, the originals.”
So really all one can do about this rather complicated book as I’ve done is to concentrate on for example, Pandora, as she fascinates me, to begin with and find out who she’s related to (which in itself is like being on an odyssey) and working out from there as if I were a spider on the web awaiting my next “kill”.
The Greek God Hermes (Mercury to the Romans and the son of Zeus), I have a particular fondness for. Many years ago I was in a garden centre in England and I saw this lovely little bronze statue of Mercury. 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. Perhaps it should be in the garden but I like to be reminded of it. So Mercury, sorry Hermes, I stand corrected. Strange really but Hermes is one of my favourite perfumes.
My only fault with this book lies with the two volumes, the index is at the end of the second one which is fair enough but it is still annoying when searching for an individual and then finding that it spans the two books.
This is a delightful book and will give me pleasure for many years. So try it, if you haven’t already. You may like it.
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Read information about the authorRobert Ranke Graves, born in Wimbledon, received his early education at King's College School and Copthorne Prep School, Wimbledon & Charterhouse School and won a scholarship to St John's College, Oxford. While at Charterhouse in 1912, he fell in love with G. H. Johnstone, a boy of fourteen ("Dick" in Goodbye to All That) When challenged by the headmaster he defended himself by citing Plato, Greek poets, Michelangelo & Shakespeare, "who had felt as I did".
At the outbreak of WWI, Graves enlisted almost immediately, taking a commission in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He published his first volume of poems, Over the Brazier, in 1916. He developed an early reputation as a war poet and was one of the first to write realistic poems about his experience of front line conflict. In later years he omitted war poems from his collections, on the grounds that they were too obviously "part of the war poetry boom". 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'. He gradually recovered. Apart from a brief spell back in France, he spent the rest of the war in England.
One of Graves's closest friends at this time was the poet Siegfried Sassoon, who was also an officer in the RWF. In 1917 Sassoon tried to rebel against the war by making a public anti-war statement. Graves, who feared Sassoon could face a court martial, intervened with the military authorities and persuaded them that he was suffering from shell shock, and to treat him accordingly. Graves also suffered from shell shock, or neurasthenia as it is sometimes called, although he was never hospitalised for it.
Biographers document the story well. It is fictionalised in Pat Barker's novel Regeneration. The intensity of their early relationship is nowhere demonstrated more clearly than in Graves's collection Fairies & Fusiliers (1917), which contains a plethora of poems celebrating their friendship. Through Sassoon, he also became friends with Wilfred Owen, whose talent he recognised. Owen attended Graves's wedding to Nancy Nicholson in 1918, presenting him with, as Graves recalled, "a set of 12 Apostle spoons".
Following his marriage and the end of the war, Graves belatedly took up his place at St John's College, Oxford. He later attempted to make a living by running a small shop, but the business failed. In 1926 he took up a post at Cairo University, accompanied by his wife, their children and the poet Laura Riding. He returned to London briefly, where he split with his wife under highly emotional circumstances before leaving to live with Riding in Deià, Majorca. There they continued to publish letterpress books under the rubric of the Seizin Press, founded and edited the literary journal Epilogue, and wrote two successful academic books together: A Survey of Modernist Poetry (1927) and A Pamphlet Against Anthologies (1928).
In 1927, he published Lawrence and the Arabs, a commercially successful biography of T.E. Lawrence. Good-bye to All That (1929, revised and republished in 1957) proved a success but cost him many of his friends, notably Sassoon. In 1934 he published his most commercially successful work, I, Claudius. Using classical sources he constructed a complexly compelling tale of the life of the Roman emperor Claudius, a tale extended in Claudius the God (1935). Another historical novel by Graves, Count Belisarius (1938), recounts the career of the Byzantine general Belisarius.
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. By 1975 he had published more than 140 works. He survived for ten more years in an increasingly dependent condition until he died from heart failure.
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