- The Good: Stephen Fry reads a you his favorite Greek myths—what’s better than that?
- The Bad: You’ll feel the length, and the complex interrelationships of the large cast of characters
- The Literary: Purely a modern re-telling, although I would have welcomed some analysis
The Greek myths are some of the greatest stories ever told, and re-told, and are the inspiration for many stories and works of art throughout the ages. The multi-talented Stephen Fry breathes modern life into the tales of gods, titans, and the humans unlucky enough to come into contact with them. All your favorites are here, including Apollo, Athena, Aphrodite, Dionysius, Hades, Hera, Poseiden, and Zeus.
One of the reasons why Greek mythology is so popular is the rich stories that, taken together, form an extremely complex yet coherent narrative. But it’s also the drama, the creativity, and the weirdness. Let me give just one example. In Mythos, the stories begin at the beginning, with the creation myths and the gods. Tired of her husband, Gaia convinces her son Cronos dethrone his father the god Uranus. Cronos castrates his father, and as Uranus’ blood seeps into the fertile Earth, three new races are born—the furies, the giants, and the nymphs.
I love Fry’s narration of these stories, as he knows exactly how to play to the humor and the horror, occasionally injecting his own witty commentary. Since man was created in the gods’ image, and man is greedy, lustful, and tricky, so must be the gods, and these tellings play into that idea. You’ll be surprised how relatable the ancient gods are as presented by Fry’s plain humor.
I know there are a lot of Greek stories, and that Fry spent some time deciding which to include and in what order. But I still feel overwhelmed by the cast of characters, their complex interrelationships, and the how the wild tales just keep coming. I would prefer more depth and less breadth.
I wonder if Stephen Fry and Neil Gaiman decided over a chat one day that it was time to present the ancient myths to a modern audience, Gaiman having released Norse Mythology around the same time. Both sets of re-tellings are in a class of their own, and much of what makes them great is the personal voice the authors bring. For a more immersive experience, I highly recommend listening to these on audiobook; both are read by the respective author; and both are fantastic narrators.