Home Knowledge 18 Best Greek Mythology Books | Novels Based on Greek Mythology

18 Best Greek Mythology Books | Novels Based on Greek Mythology

by Naz khaliq
best Greek Mythology books
Best Greek mythology books

We have a list of some of the most popular and best Greek mythology books. The list also contains modern novels based on Greek mythology. Some of these include the books which tell the perspectives of women who were ignored earlier while writers narrated the stories of Greek myths and wars. They present the feminist perspective that how everything affected women at that time. The list includes ancient as well as modern books which are based entirely or loosely on Greek mythology.

Here are some of the most famous, ancient and modern books based on Greek Mythology for its fans:

1: The Odyssey Homer (8th Century BCE):

best greek mythology books

It is one of the famous books based on Greek Mythology. It is an epic poem which is written by the ancient Greek poet Homer. As it is hard to tell the exact date, it is believed to be composed in the 8th century BCE.

The poem narrated the story of the hero Odysseus who returns back home after a long journey. The poem focuses on his return from the Trojan war. It is divided into 24 books and each book narrates and covers a different part of Odysseus’s journey. The poem starts with Odysseus who is held by the nymph Calypso on her island. After that, it focuses on his adventures in various lands where he encounters monsters, gods and mortals.

In the whole poem, Odysseus overcomes many obstacles and trials such as the Lotus Eaters, the wrath of the cyclops Polyphemus and the dangers of the Sirens. On the other side, his wife Penelope and son Telemachus try to protect his kingdom as in his disappearance many people try to take advantage.

The Odyssey is one of the famous and most important books of ancient Greek literature. The themes of Odyssey are heroism, loyalty, bravery and hospitality and it provides a detailed insight into the ancient Greek world and belief system.

2: The Iliad by Homer (8th century BCE):

best greek mythology books

It is one of the famous books based on Greek mythology which consists of an epic poem. It is another epic poem by Homer. It narrates the story of the Trojan War. (Trojan War was the result of a ten-year conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans over the abduction of Helen).

There are a total of twenty-four books which contain more than 15,000 lines of verse in the poem. The poem starts with the wrath of Achilles who was the greatest warrior of the Greek army. He withdraws from the war in anger after a dispute with King Agamemnon. It seems that The Trojans are about to win but Achilles eventually rejoins the fight and kills the Trojan prince Hector. After that, the war ends.

The poem is considered one of the greatest works of Greek literature as well as Western literature. It is appreciated for its depiction of the human condition, the essence of human relations and the conflict between personal choices and social responsibility. Illiad influenced the concept of heroism and the tragic hero.

The Iliad is translated into many languages and there are many adaptations in the form of players, films and operas. It is still referred to the literature and history students.

3: The Greek Myths by Robert Graves (1995):

best greek mythology books

This book is written by Rober Graves. It is a detailed and comprehensive narrative of Greek myths. It includes the stories of the Olympian gods, heroes and the creatures of Greek mythology.

Robert Graves took the data from various sources which include ancient texts such as Hesiod’s Theogony and Homer’s epics as well as archaeological and folklore evidence. He gives the detail from the beginning to the end, such as from the beginning of the creation of the world, and the first gods and the book ends with the adventures of Odysseus and the Trojan War.

Although the book can be considered one of the best mythology based books, one of its notable aspects is the way Robert Graves emphasises the psychological and symbolic meaning of the myths. He argues that the myths were not more entertaining stories but they were used by the ancient Greeks to explore and understand the human psyche and the mysteries of the natural world.

It is one of the famous books based on Greek mythology for its interpretation and detailed analysis of mythologies. The book is translated into several languages and it is adapted by many people in different forms.

4: Norse Gods and Giants by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire (1967):

best greek mythology books

This is one of the Greek mythology based books which is written by Ingri and Edgar Parin who are husband and wife. The couple also wrote children’s books and is known for their works on mythology. The books it about the stories and myths of Norse mythology which feature gods, giants and other mythological figures in the world of Norse folklore.

The book also includes illustrations by Edgar which are in their signature style. Their style was famous for its bold lines and bright colors which evoke the world of Norse mythology. The stories are about myths, from the creation of the world to the tales of Odin, Thor, Loki and other figures from Norse folklore.

The book was supposed to write for children but it has been also praised by adults for its engaging retelling of the myths. People also appreciate the quality of the illustrations. It is considered a class in Children’s literature and one of the most popular and best greek mythology books.

5: Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths by Bernard Evslin:

best greek mythology books

It is a collection of stories and myths from the ancient greeks written by Bernard Evslin. The book focuses on the adventures of famous Greek heroes such as Theseus, Perseus, and Hercules. It also tells about the adventures of gods and goddesses of Greek mythology such as Zeus, Athena, and Aphrodite.

The book narrates the relationships between the gods and the mortals and the conflict and battles between them. It is perfect for young people and adults because of its engaging storytelling.

The writer also gives insight into various monsters and creatures which play a prominent role in Greek mythology. The most famous ones are Minotaur, Medusa, and the Hydra. They served as challenges for the heroes to overcome and they are the symbols of the danger and trials that humans face in their lives.

It is a must-read for those who are interested in ancient stories and legends.

6: Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton (1942):

best greek mythology books

The book is written by Edith Hamilton and was published in 1942. It contains a collection of Roman, Greek and Norse myths. It also contains legends, myths and folklore.

There are three sections in the book. Each section contains one of the three mythologies.

  • The first section is about Greek mythology and it begins with the creation myth of Gais and Uranus. After that, it moves on to the Titans. Titans were defeated by the Olympian gods led by Zeus. The first section also covers the Trojan War and it includes the story of the hero Achilles and the adventures of Odysseus.
  • The second section is about Roman mythology which is largely based on Greek mythology. The section includes the story of the founding of Rome, the Roman gods and goddesses and the story of Romulus and Remus.
  • The third section is dedicated tot he Norse mythology. Norse mythology is different from Greek and Roman mythology and it focuses on the afterlife and the end of the world. This section includes stories about the Norse gods such as Odin, Thor and Loki and their battles with giants and monsters.

Hamilton explains the myths and their significance in each culture in the entire book. She also includes illustrations to help readers so they would be able to visualize the stories. The book has become a classic in the story of mythology and it is one of the famous books based on Greek mythology. It is popular among students, and scholars and it is interesting for those who are into ancient cultures.

7: Mythos” by Stephen Fry (2017):

best greek mythology books

It is one of the famous books based on Greek mythology. The book is written by Stephen Fry. It is divided into three sections, each section focuses on a different aspect of Greek mythology.

  • The first section is named “The Gods”. It focuses on the major gods of Greek mythology such as Zeus, Heram Poseidon, Demeter and Hades. Fry tells their life stories and their relationship with each other and with humans.
  • The second section is named “The Heroes” which tells the stories of heroes such as Heracles, Poseidon, Demeter and Hades. Fry examines their quests, their roles on battlefields and their triumphs. This section highlights the themes of courage, honour and sacrifice.
  • The third section titled “The Men” explores the origins of humanity according to Greek mythology and tells the stories of Prometheus and Pandora. It also focuses on the creation myths of the Titans and the Olympians.

Fry also gives his own interpretations of the myths by using his famous quality of wit and humor to make the stories interesting and engaging for modern readers. He also provides historical and cultural contexts of myth by explaining how these myths were an important part of Greek society.

8: Troy by Stephen Fry (2020):

best Greek mythology books

Troy: The Siege of Troy Retold is written by British author, Stephen Fry. It is a retelling of the Trojan War. It is one of the fascinating novels based on Greek mythology. It covers ancient Greek myths and legends as week as historical records and archaeological discoveries.

In the book, Fry refreshes the epic story of the Trojan war and covers the origins of the conflict to its devastating conclusion. The novel is told from multiple perspectives of gods, the mortals and even the horses. It is remarkable that Fry portrayed every character brilliantly from the heroes and heroines of the Trojan War such as Achilles, Hector and Paris, to the gods and goddesses such as Zeus, Hera and Aphrodite.

The style of writing makes it engaging and accessible for the fans of Greek mythology and even for those who are new to this genre.

9: A Thousand Ships by Natalie Hayne (2019):

best greek mythology books

A Thousand Ships is one of the novels based on Greek mythology which provides the perspective of women. It is a retelling of the Trojan War from the perspective of women who were involved in the conflict. The novel gives voice to those characters who are often ignored and marginalized in traditional narratives.

The novel focuses on different female characters including the queens, goddesses and ordinary women who are affected by the events which lead to the Trojan War or after it.

The names of the female characters in the novel A Thousand Ships include:

Calliope is the muse of epic poetry. She is the narrator of the novel and guides the reader through the story.

Hecuba is the queen of Troy. Her son Paris abducts Helen of Sparts which sets off the Trojan War.

Penelope is the wife of Odysseus. She is left behind, while her husband fights in the war. She faces mental and emotional challenges after him.

Briseis is a Trojan woman who is captured by the Greeks and becomes a slave to Achilles.

Andromache is the wife of Hector who is a Trojan prince killed by Achilles.

Thetis is the sea goddess and mother of Achilles. She tries to protect her son from enemies.

The themes of A Thousand Ships are love, loss, betrayal and the impact of war on those who are forgotten and ignored. The writer explores all these themes through the perspective of the characters.

10: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (2011):

best greek mythology books

It is one of the young adult fantasy novels based on Greek mythology. The novel is written by Josephine Angelini. It was published in 2011. The story is about a teenage girl Helen Hamilton who discovers that she is a demigod. Demigod is a descendant of the ancient Greek gods and is fated to be with a boy named Lucas Delos. The boy is also a demigod from a rival family. Helen starts figuring out about herself and her roots and she also comes to know about her powers. However, she surrounds herself with enemies as there is a conflict between her and Luca’s family.

One of the family is a descendant of Zeus and the other one is of Hera and both are rivals. This is the reason both families consider each other rivals. Helen and Lucas are destined to love each other so despite their families’ enmity they are unable to avoid each other. They try their best to be together. On their path to search for the solution to end the enmity, they uncover many secrets and there comes a time when they have to decide whether they will choose each other or their duties to their families.

Angelini wrote a trilogy and Starcrossed is the first book, the other books are Dreamless and Goddess. The book is highly praised for the blend of Greek mythology with the modern touch of romance and action. It is one of the popular novels based on Greek mythology.

11: The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (2018):

best greek mythology books

It is one of the modern novels based on Greek mythology. The novel is written by Pat Barker and it is a retelling of the Trojan War from the perspective of Briseis. Briseis was once a queen who becomes a slave to Achilles after he conquers her city.

The themes of The Silence of the Girls are power, violence and the effects of war on women. Barker highlights the miseries and women’s perspective in ancient Greek literature which is often ignored. The novel sheds light that how women were used as pawns in men’s wars. The readers are able to see the horrors of war which includes the physical and emotional violence towards women through the narrative of Briseis. Barker also highlights the facts that how power works between men and women and the ways in which women are forced to support patriarchy in order to survive. The novel is a powerful narrative which gives voice to women who have been silenced throughout history.

The book is highly praised for a new perspective which is the feminist perspective and it is a fresh take on a familiar story.

12: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint (2021):

best greek mythology books

The novel is based on the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. It is told from the perspective of Ariadne who is the daughter of King Minos of Crete. The story begins with childhood of Ariadne. She lives a comfortable and lavish life in the palace of Knossos. However one day her father demands that she has to help Theseus who is an Athenian prince. The prince has to defeat Minotaur and Ariadne has to help him. Ariadne soon falls in love with Theseus. She helps him by giving him a ball of thread to guide him through the Labyrinth and a sword to slay the Minotaur.

Theseus kills the Minotaur and abandoned Ariadne on the Island of Naxos. She is rescued by the god Dionysus. They both fall in love and marry. Their happiness is short-lived as Theseus comes back to take Ariadne. Dionysus gets angry and punishes him by sending a storm his way. The storm wrecks his ship and kills many of his men.

The themes of Ariadne are love, betrayal and the roles of women in ancient Greece. It also explores the complex relationships between the gods and humans.

13: Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexie (2015):

best greek mythology books

This is one of the modern novels based on Greek mythology. Fifteen Dogs is written by Andre Alexie. It is a philosophical novel that explores the nature of consciousness and free will. The unique thing is the writer explores all these through the experiences of fifteen dogs who are granted human intelligence and language by two Greek gods.

The dogs possess human consciousness and language and they start questioning their existence, their place in the world and their relationships with each other. They also explore the themes of mortality, love, power and the meaning of life. The novel raises many important questions about the nature of humanity and the role of consciousness.

14: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (2005):

best greek mythology books

The novel is a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey from the perspective of Penelope. She is the wife of the epic poem’s protagonist Odysseus. In this modern novel based on Greek mythology, Penelope tells her own story in the afterlife. The Penelopiad is a novel which offers a feminist perspective on myths and legends.

She narrates the story of her marriage to Odysseus, his departure to fight in the Trojan War and how she waits for 20 years for his return. During this time, she deals with so many people including those who want to marry her and take over her home. She also struggles with loneliness and doubts whether her husband will return or not. The way the writer retells the story adds complexity and depth to Penelop’s character which proves that Margaret Atwood is an intelligent writer.

The themes of The Penelopiad are power, gender and storytelling. The novel is highly appreciated for its storytelling and feminist theme. It is one of the famous novels based on Greek mythology ad adapted into stage players and opera. It is contained to be a popular choice for book clubs and literature sources.

15: Lore by Alexandra Bracken (2021):

best greek mythology books

It is one of the modern novels based on Greek mythology. The genre of Lore is a young adult fantasy novel which was written by Alexandra Bracken. It is set in modern-day New York city where the ancient Greek gods still exist. They hold an event after every seven years called the Agon.

In an event, nine Greek gods become mortal and are hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines called Houses. If a mortal kills a god during the Agon, he will be able to absorb the powers and become immortal and the god dies. The story is focused on Lore who is a young woman. She was part of one of the most powerful Houses but she distanced herself from the world of Agon. One day, a childhood friend come to her for help. Lore is drawn back into the world that she thought she left behind. She has to save herself from treacherous alliances and enemies.

The themes of Lore are family, loyalty, betrayal and the weight of history. It also explores the theme of power and how far someone can go to obtain that power. It is one of the most thrilling adventure modern novels based on Greek mythology with so many twists and turns.

16: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2005):

best greek mythology books

It is one of the popular adult novels based on Greek mythology. The book is the first instalment in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and there are four more novels in the series. The story revolves around Percy Jackson who is a twelve-year boy. He discovers that he is a demigod and the son of Poseidon (the Greek god of the sea).

Percy finds himself in the world of Greek mythology, monsters and magic where he learns that he is part of a prophecy that foretells a war between the gods. Percy along with his friends sets out on a quest to find Zeus’s stolen lightning bolt. They encounter many dangers and face many challenges. They travel across the city to find the bolt and clear Percy’s name.

Throughout the book, Riordan brings together the elements of Greek mythology and combines them with modern-day life. It makes the story interesting and educational. The novel is praised for its plot, characters and creative use of mythology.

17: Circe by Madeline Miller (2018):

best greek mythology books

It is one of the best greek mythology books and tells the story of Circe. Circe is a minor goddess and witch from Greek mythology. She struggles to find her place in the world. She is the daughter of the titan Helios and the nymph Perse. Circe is outcasted by her family as they think she does not possess the beauty and power of her siblings though she has the gift of magic. She is neglected and rejected by her own family until she discovers that she can transform others into animals.

She leaves her place and goes to the island of Aiaia. She spends centuries and polishes her magic abilities and encounters various figures of Greek mythology. She struggles with the issue of identity, power and love. She has many romantic relationships with the mortal Glaucus and the hero Odysseus. As she has identity issues, she struggles with the fact that she is not fully human or fully divine. She also fears that her power could be taken away from her.

The book explores the themes of feminism and self-discovery. It is praised to present the female character from Greek mythology. Madeline Miller won several awards for Circle including the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

18: The Song of Achilles (2011) by Madeline Miller:

best greek mythology books

This is one of the novels based on Greek Mythology and written by Madeline Miller who is an American writer. The novel is set during the Geek Heroic Age. Miller adapted the story of this modern-day novel from Homer’s Illiad. The story is told from the perspective of Patroclus. Patroclus is a close friend, companion and lover of Achilles (as stated by Homer). Patroclus accidentally kills one of the sons of a nobleman, he is exiled to Phthia. He meets Achilles there. They become close and Patroclus fell in love with Achilles. However, they are separated.

In one of the wars, Patroclus is killed and Achilles mourns his death. He demands that after his death, his ashes would be mixed with Patroclus. He takes revenge on Patroclus. After his death and as per his wish, Achilles’ ashes are mixed with Patroclus. It is one of the best novels based on Greek mythology which got a prestigious award (Orange Prize for Fiction).

Some of these Greek mythology books are available for free in the online library. You can check here

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