Mythology Book Summary - Mythology Book explained in key points
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Mythology summary

Edith Hamilton

Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes

4.5 (179 ratings)
32 mins

Brief summary

Mythology by Edith Hamilton is a collection of classic myths from ancient Greece and Rome. Hamilton's masterful storytelling brings these timeless tales to life and provides readers with a wealth of insight into the human condition.

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    Mythology
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    For the Greeks, the world came into being even before the gods.

    In the beginning – as far as the Ancient Greeks were concerned – there was nothing. There were no gods or humans. There was just nothingness, the void that was Chaos.

    Then, though no one quite knew how, something happened. Two children emerged from this oblivion, by the names of Night and Erebus, in which darkness and death were each said to reside.

    Night then laid an egg in Erebus and from the darkness within Night and the death within Erebus, Love was born, bringing order to the chaotic void.

    Love then created two new entities of its own, Light and Day.

    What’s really interesting about the Greek creation myth is there was no attempt to explain the rationale. No god was an architect or initiator; things just happened. The same was true for the creation of the Earth itself.

    The Greek poet Hesiod simply wrote that Earth came to be, and afterward gave birth to starry Heaven, equal to herself.

    You might also have spotted that in these myths there is no difference between an object and a personified agent – sure, Earth and Heaven are places, but they also operate as individuals. That’s why Mother Earth also goes by the name of Gaea, while Ouranos is commonly used for Father Heaven.

    Gaea and Ouranos had a series of monstrous children. Here we have a connection with the Greeks. We know that the world was once filled with monsters. The Greeks were no different. It’s just that their monsters were often a bit more human – it wasn’t a world populated by giant lizards or mammoths. The only difference is that the Greek monsters had more human qualities.

    Three of their children had 100 hands and 50 eyes, and three were born with one eye each – Cyclops. Last of all were the gigantic Titans.

    But Ouranos hated his own children. The youngest of these, Cronos, was so angered by this that he castrated his father, deposed him and instead became ruler over everything in his place.

    Cronos chose to rule with his sister Rhea, and they had many children together. But Cronos would also become an anxious parent, learning that one of his children would eventually dethrone him. To prevent this from happening, Cronos set about devouring his sons and daughters. Only one son, Zeus, managed to escape as Rhea succeeded in hiding him on the island of Crete.

    Eventually, Zeus decided to overthrow his father. With the assistance of the Titan Prometheus, Zeus defeated Cronos and the remaining Titans to become the sole ruler over the world.

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    What is Mythology about?

    In Mythology (1942), Edith Hamilton takes the reader on a swift journey through the classical annals, surveying the fascinating stories of Greek and Roman mythology. The power of these stories impacted art and literature for centuries. Here, you can learn their essence. From the creation of the world to the epic siege of Troy, Hamilton gives you the grounding you need.

    Mythology Review

    Mythology (1942) by Edith Hamilton is a captivating exploration of ancient myths from Greek, Roman, and Norse cultures. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides a fascinating journey into the rich world of mythical tales and gods, offering a deeper understanding of ancient civilizations and their beliefs.
    • The book's meticulous research and thoughtful analysis bring the myths to life, making them accessible and relevant to modern readers.
    • With its engaging storytelling and vivid descriptions, the book draws you in and keeps you hooked, ensuring that it is anything but boring.

    Best quote from Mythology

    The Greeks did not believe that the gods created the universe. It was the other way about: the universe created the gods.

    —Edith Hamilton
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    Who should read Mythology?

    • Students of ancient history and classics
    • Any art lover who’s ever viewed a classical mythology-inspired painting with confusion
    • Dinner table conversationalists looking for a classical analogy to spice things up

    About the Author

    Edith Hamilton was a classicist and educator who was active from the turn of the twentieth century right up until her death at age 95 in 1963. She was renowned for bringing the classics of ancient literature to a wider public and her books on Greek and Roman mythology have been rightly lauded. She displayed a talent for distilling the complexity of antiquity and relating it in a clear and exciting way for a modern audience.

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    Mythology FAQs 

    What is the main message of Mythology?

    The main message of Mythology is a timeless exploration of ancient myths and their enduring relevance.

    How long does it take to read Mythology?

    The reading time for Mythology varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Mythology a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Mythology is a captivating read that provides insight into the world of ancient myths. It's definitely worth your time.

    Who is the author of Mythology?

    The author of Mythology is Edith Hamilton.

    What to read after Mythology?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Mythology, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • A Force for Good by Daniel Goleman
    • A History of God by Karen Armstrong
    • The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
    • A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin
    • The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell