100 books like Myth and Society in Ancient Greece

By Jean-Pierre Vernant, Janet Lloyd (translator),

Here are 100 books that Myth and Society in Ancient Greece fans have personally recommended if you like Myth and Society in Ancient Greece. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

Sue Blundell Author Of Women in Ancient Greece

From my list on women in classical Greece and how to think about them.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I retired from lecturing in Classical Studies I’ve been writing more pieces on women in the ancient world, and also some plays. One of them, 189 Pieces, is about the Portland Vase, a beautiful example of Roman glass whose label in the British Museum tells us that it was owned by the Duke of Portland. This is true—he’d inherited it—but it was bought at great expense by his grandmother, the wonderful Duchess of Portland. Giving women their place in history has been my aim in much of my work. Nowadays I’m obsessed with female footwear, and Cinderella, Goody Two-Shoes, and Carrie Bradshaw take up a lot of my time. 

Sue's book list on women in classical Greece and how to think about them

Sue Blundell Why did Sue love this book?

Mulvey’s ground-breaking essay on women in film had a huge impact on the scholarship around the visual representation of women in a range of media. Her arguments about masculine voyeurism gave rise to countless discussions of ‘the male gaze,’ and influenced my own exploration of depictions of females in Greek sculpture. Here, the nude goddess Aphrodite was often presented as the object of a desiring gaze. But in ancient Greece the situation was complicated by the popularity of the male nude and the widespread acceptance of homoerotic relations. Mulvey herself went on to distinguish between the straight and the gay gaze. 

By Carolina Hein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seminar paper from the year 2006 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 2,3, University of Constance, 3 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: In a time of rapid technological progress and development, everything changes quite fast. These changes can be seen in every field of life. For instance, the way of supplying basic needs or the way how to make own life better, but also certain norms and values are quite different today. Instead of visiting a theatre in order to be entertained, people can watch TV or use the internet. If a man…


Book cover of Greek Tragedy

Sue Blundell Author Of Women in Ancient Greece

From my list on women in classical Greece and how to think about them.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I retired from lecturing in Classical Studies I’ve been writing more pieces on women in the ancient world, and also some plays. One of them, 189 Pieces, is about the Portland Vase, a beautiful example of Roman glass whose label in the British Museum tells us that it was owned by the Duke of Portland. This is true—he’d inherited it—but it was bought at great expense by his grandmother, the wonderful Duchess of Portland. Giving women their place in history has been my aim in much of my work. Nowadays I’m obsessed with female footwear, and Cinderella, Goody Two-Shoes, and Carrie Bradshaw take up a lot of my time. 

Sue's book list on women in classical Greece and how to think about them

Sue Blundell Why did Sue love this book?

Thrilling portraits of violent women in Greek tragedy—for example, Clytemnestra, Electra, and Medeaseem like an anomaly in a society that expected women to get married, bear children, be quiet, and stay at home. In this accessible introduction to the subject Rabinowitz examines tragedy in its original theatrical and social contexts. Her analyses of selected plays are grounded in psychoanalytic and feminist theory, and include vivid accounts of some modern performances. Whatever is happening in the world, there is always a Greek tragedy that speaks to it. 

By Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Greek Tragedy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Greek Tragedy sets ancient tragedy into its original theatrical, political and ritual context and applies modern critical approaches to understanding why tragedy continues to interest modern audiences. * An engaging introduction to Greek tragedy, its history, and its reception in the contemporary world with suggested readings for further study * Examines tragedy's relationship to democracy, religion, and myth * Explores contemporary approaches to scholarship, including structuralist, psychoanalytic, and feminist theory * Provides a thorough examination of contemporary performance practices * Includes detailed readings of selected plays


Book cover of Consuming Fashion: Adorning the Transnational Body

Sue Blundell Author Of Women in Ancient Greece

From my list on women in classical Greece and how to think about them.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I retired from lecturing in Classical Studies I’ve been writing more pieces on women in the ancient world, and also some plays. One of them, 189 Pieces, is about the Portland Vase, a beautiful example of Roman glass whose label in the British Museum tells us that it was owned by the Duke of Portland. This is true—he’d inherited it—but it was bought at great expense by his grandmother, the wonderful Duchess of Portland. Giving women their place in history has been my aim in much of my work. Nowadays I’m obsessed with female footwear, and Cinderella, Goody Two-Shoes, and Carrie Bradshaw take up a lot of my time. 

Sue's book list on women in classical Greece and how to think about them

Sue Blundell Why did Sue love this book?

"The statements we make just by getting dressed in the morning." This book about fashion and dress codes, and how they interconnect with gender, sexuality, and class, is lively and thought-provoking. My own study of the women who appear in Greek vase paintings led me to look more closely at women’s relationship with their clothing. In particular their handling of shoes became a source of fascination, and in my current research I’m focussing on narratives around female footwear. In the book, Brydon’s chapter "Sensible Shoes" has been an inspiration. Stilettos, for example, are seen as being entirely ambiguous in their significance, items which can both empower and disable the wearer. Like the knife they are named after, they are double-edged. 

By Anne Brydon (editor), Sandra Niessen (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Consuming Fashion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Clothing the body is one of the most complicated acts of daily existence. When a nun ponders red shoes, an architect knots his bowtie, a lesbian laces her Doc Marten's, or a nude model disrobes, each is engaging in a process of identity-making that is both intensely personal and deeply social. In an increasingly material world, negotiating dress codes is a nuanced art, informed by shifting patterns of power and authority, play and performance, as well as gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity and race. Drawing on ethnographic knowledge to connect theory and practice, authors reveal links between material culture, social and…


Book cover of Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths

Sue Blundell Author Of Women in Ancient Greece

From my list on women in classical Greece and how to think about them.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I retired from lecturing in Classical Studies I’ve been writing more pieces on women in the ancient world, and also some plays. One of them, 189 Pieces, is about the Portland Vase, a beautiful example of Roman glass whose label in the British Museum tells us that it was owned by the Duke of Portland. This is true—he’d inherited it—but it was bought at great expense by his grandmother, the wonderful Duchess of Portland. Giving women their place in history has been my aim in much of my work. Nowadays I’m obsessed with female footwear, and Cinderella, Goody Two-Shoes, and Carrie Bradshaw take up a lot of my time. 

Sue's book list on women in classical Greece and how to think about them

Sue Blundell Why did Sue love this book?

In this witty and intelligent book, broadcaster and novelist Natalie Haynes applies a woman’s mind to stories that in the past have been told to us mostly by men. She presents us with ten female characters who not only feature in ancient myths, but also have starring roles in later paintings, plays, novels, films, operas, and musicals. They include Pandora, Helen, Medusa, Eurydice, and Penelope: whether traditionally seen as victims or villains, all these women are explored in their ‘difficult, messy, murderous’ complexity. 

By Natalie Haynes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pandora's Jar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Funny, sharp explications of what these sometimes not-very-nice women were up to!' - Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale

The Greek myths are among the world's most important cultural building blocks and they have been retold many times, but rarely do they focus on the remarkable women at the heart of these ancient stories.

Stories of gods and monsters are the mainstay of epic poetry and Greek tragedy, from Homer to Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, from the Trojan War to Jason and the Argonauts. And still, today, a wealth of novels, plays and films draw their inspiration from stories…


Book cover of Tales of Ancient Greece

Shirin Yim Bridges Author Of Eat Your Peas, Julius! Even Caesar Must Clean His Plate

From my list on children’s stories introducing history and culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a complete history nerd since childhood—since I opened a Christmas present to reveal one of the books I recommend here, People in History. Since then I’ve written 21 children’s books, and published more by other authors as the founder of Goosebottom Books. All these books touch on some aspect of history or culture in one way or the other. There’s always an emphasis or insight into custom, time, or place. Even the adult novels I’m currently working on are historical fiction. I’m still completely enthralled by the many worlds of the past. I even listen to history podcasts when I’m doing the dishes!

Shirin's book list on children’s stories introducing history and culture

Shirin Yim Bridges Why did Shirin love this book?

Closely related to my love for history is my love of mythology—the boundary between the two is porous. This book started that love. There have been many books published that present the Greek myths to children, and this book is not considered one of the classics, but because it was my favorite book when I was six, I have never found another version better. I love the illustrations and how stylized they are. They capture the myths’ mystique, yet you can always see the human. I was clutching this book in the back seat of my family’s car when my mom announced that we would be getting a baby brother. As I was reading about Jason and the Golden Fleece, I suggested Jason as a name. It stuck!

Book cover of Heroes: the Greek Myths Reimagined

T.M. Rowe Author Of A Viking Moon

From my list on transporting you back through time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have three lifelong passions, the first was reading, then writing, and then archaeology/history. To this end I studied and trained as an archaeologist before I sat down and decided to write stories set in the past as a way of bringing it to life. Of course, there had to be an adventure, a bit of a mystery, and a dash of magic to bring it all together. The books on my list are just a few of those that I have enjoyed reading during my hunt to get to know the past in intimate detail – on my own time travelling journey.

T.M.'s book list on transporting you back through time

T.M. Rowe Why did T.M. love this book?

My love of ancient Greek heroes began with the old stop footage films of the 70s and early 80s.

The bravery, the adventure, and the mystery had me hooked at a young age. So, it was a delight to find a book that dealt with the heroes of the ancient Greeks in such an easy-to-read way. This book is not just a rehash of those much-loved tales such as Jason and the Argonauts or Odysseus, Stephen Fry has brought a more modern language to the stories making them relatable and relevant for today.

This is an all-time favourite of mine.

By Stephen Fry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heroes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mortals and Monsters. Quests and Adventures . . .
___________

There are Heroes - and then there are Greek Heroes.

Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes.

In this companion to his bestselling Mythos, Stephen Fry brilliantly retells these dramatic, funny, tragic and timeless tales. Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta - who was raised by bears - outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus…


Book cover of Greek Vase-Painting and the Origins of Visual Humour

William Hansen Author Of The Book of Greek and Roman Folktales, Legends, and Myths

From my list on classical mythology and folklore.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up loving fairytales and still do. In college, my love for folktales grew into a passion for mythology. I pursued these interests at the University of California, Berkeley, received my PhD, and became a classicist and folklorist with a special interest in traditional stories. This interest was the foundation for several books, including Ariadne’s Thread: A Guide to International Stories Found in Classical Literature and Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans. My work in traditional stories led me to explore the neighboring topic of popular literature, which resulted in my Anthology of Ancient Greek Popular Literature.  

William's book list on classical mythology and folklore

William Hansen Why did William love this book?

The ancient Greeks were not only good at making serious art such as epics and tragedies, they were also good at making fun of them in literature and art.

In the realm of art, the most abundant source of humor is painted vases, which were manufactured mostly for the use of men at symposia, or drinking parties.

Greek mythology was a favorite subject of the vase painters, and Mitchell’s richly-illustrated study of humorous vases provides a fun and unusual window into ancient burlesque treatments of Greek myths and legends.  

By Alexandre G. Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Greek Vase-Painting and the Origins of Visual Humour as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a comprehensive study of visual humour in ancient Greece, with special emphasis on works created in Athens and Boeotia. Alexandre G. Mitchell brings an interdisciplinary approach to this topic, combining theories and methods of art history, archaeology and classics with the anthropology of humour, and thereby establishing new ways of looking at art and visual humour in particular. Understanding what visual humour was to the ancients and how it functioned as a tool of social cohesion is only one facet of this study. Mitchell also focuses on the social truths that his study of humour unveils: democracy…


Book cover of The Door in the Mountain (The Ariadne Series)

Charlene Challenger Author Of The Voices In Between

From my list on with “difficult” protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I find “difficult” characters fascinating because their humanity isn’t easily discerned. They’re often complex and richly drawn and show us aspects of ourselves we may not want to admit to others. Examining the ugly, the hidden, can be exhilarating.

Charlene's book list on with “difficult” protagonists

Charlene Challenger Why did Charlene love this book?

Set against a beautiful, violent landscape, The Door in the Mountain is the story of Ariadne, a young princess navigating her culture’s customs and her personal responsibilities. In Ariadne’s world, the course of one’s life is determined by whether one has a “godmark” – a special gift or ability granted by the heavens. Ariadne desperately wants to be godmarked like her brother and parents. That desperation fuels a mean streak that, at times, turns to downright cruelty. Caitlin Sweet is a master of characterization, and as a reader, I can’t help but sympathize with Ariadne’s longing to fit in with her family – to be considered their equal in all aspects – even when her words and actions are despicable to those around her. 

By Caitlin Sweet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Door in the Mountain (The Ariadne Series) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Ancient Crete: a place where a beautiful, bitter young princess named Ariadne schemes to imprison her godmarked half-brother deep in the heart of a mountain maze, where a boy named Icarus tries, and fails, to fly--and where a slave girl changes the paths of all their lives forever.


Book cover of Mythos

Gerard Pasterkamp Author Of Painted Science: The history of scientific discoveries, explorers and technological developments captured in painting

From my list on trying to explain basics in human behavior and decision making in a scientific manner.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scientist in the field of medicine, and I like to read books that provide a surprising insight into our thinking and decision-making with a scientific basis. It is special how we think we are acting rationally while much of our action is influenced by the environment and news that comes our way. Some of the books in my list provide special insights that are refreshing and hold a mirror up to us.

Gerard's book list on trying to explain basics in human behavior and decision making in a scientific manner

Gerard Pasterkamp Why did Gerard love this book?

Greek mythology that reads like a storybook.

I never thought I would enjoy reading Greek mythology. But how Fry wrote it is really amazing. Now, when I go to a museum and see an ancient painting depicting Greek Mythology, I am often able to explain what is visualised in the artwork.

In the book, Zeus and the other Gods get a true character and the fights they have are depicted in a way that you still want to read it till the end, even if you know what the end will look like. 

By Stephen Fry,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Mythos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

STEP INTO ANOTHER WORLD - OF MAGIC, MAYHEM, MONSTERS AND MANIACAL GODS - IN STEPHEN FRY'S MOMENTOUS SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER, MYTHOS

'A romp through the lives of ancient Greek gods. Fry is at his story-telling best . . . the gods will be pleased' Times
___________

No one loves and quarrels, desires and deceives as boldly or brilliantly as Greek gods and goddesses.

In Stephen Fry's vivid retelling, we gaze in wonder as wise Athena is born from the cracking open of the great head of Zeus and follow doomed Persephone into the dark and lonely realm of the Underworld.…


Book cover of Troy: The Greek Myths Reimagined

Frank Shapiro Author Of The Conspiracy against Mary Magdalene

From my list on gripping fiction for history enthusiasts.

Why am I passionate about this?

History is my passion. I’m a graduate of medieval history from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and post-graduate of London University. Former high school history teacher, and previously held the post of assistant researcher at the Museum of the Diaspora, Tel Aviv. I was commissioned by the Council of Zambian Jewry to research and write the history of Northern Rhodesian/Zambian Jewry. I have lectured frequently on my subjects and have contributed diverse historical articles in newspapers and journals. I have published six books, fiction, and non-fiction.  

Frank's book list on gripping fiction for history enthusiasts

Frank Shapiro Why did Frank love this book?

As a historian I have often felt the need to get to grips with the basis of western mythical-historical writing, meaning—Homer. After reading Mythos, I couldn’t resist reading Fry’s second book of his Greek mythology trilogy, and I was rewarded! Despite the often-confusing flood of Greek names of gods, Titans, divine mortals, etc. you can’t help enjoying this exciting read of Paris’ abduction of Helen of Sparta. As usual, Fry’s erudition is combined with side-splitting humor and wit. He has the brilliance to bring alive the ancient classical Homer’s Iliad to a modern-day audience. 

By Stephen Fry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Troy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

AN EPIC BATTLE THAT LASTED TEN YEARS. A LEGENDARY STORY THAT HAS SURVIVED THOUSANDS.

'An inimitable retelling of the siege of Troy . . . Fry's narrative, artfully humorous and rich in detail, breathes life and contemporary relevance into these ancient tales' OBSERVER

'Stephen Fry has done it again. Well written and super storytelling' 5***** READER REVIEW
________

'Troy. The most marvellous kingdom in all the world. The Jewel of the Aegean. Glittering Ilion, the city that rose and fell not once but twice . . .'

When Helen, the beautiful Greek queen, is kidnapped by the Trojan prince Paris,…


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