Oh My Gods: A Modern Retelling of Greek and Roman Myths

by on February 6th, 2012
Oh My Gods: A Modern Retelling of Greek and Roman Myths Cover Image

Ok, you’ve read your Bulfinch and your Edith Hamilton and feel that you have a pretty good foundation in Greek and Roman mythology; or perhaps you are new to mythology and just want a sampling before fully committing. Either way, you will enjoy Oh My Gods: A Modern Retelling of Greek and Roman Myths by Philip Freeman.

Freeman, a Qualley Professor of Classics at Luther College, pulls together bits and pieces from many scholarly sources to give shading and dimension to the greatest hits of Greek and Roman mythology. With a compact but appreciative writing style, Freeman relays the Trojan War, Odyssey, and Aeneid in single chapters! Gone is the flower of larger works, but Freeman’s gritty nuggets of love, cruelty, incest, jealousy, fear and redemption gives gristle and bite to these well worn tales. Few of these stories end well. If you are familiar with the classics there will likely be “triggers” of emotion such as when King Priam pleads with the mighty Achilles to return the body of the King’s son, Hector “of the shining helmet”; or possibly, when Oedipus puts out his own eyes upon learning the horror of his deeds.

All is not bleak however, for balancing the tragic are tales of touching humanity, reminding us that all these stories have passed through countless storytellers, leaving only those that strike a human chord to survive. As I read this book I imagined grains of sand sifting into the cracks and fissures of myth, making it solid, making it human, making it last.

A genealogy, glossary and index at the back make this an excellent sourcebook, both for myths and crosswords.

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