Book Review – Mythos

Stephen Fry

Penguin Books
Rating *****

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. We shiver when Pandora opens her jar of evil torments and watch with joy as the legendary love affair between Eros and Psyche unfolds.

Mythos captures these extraodinary myths for our modern age – in all their dazzling and deeply human relevance.


There is something about Greek mythology that has always interested me. The weird, graphic tales of revenge, punishment, love and betrayal are so exciting and unique. I clearly remember being about 10 years old in school and my teacher would read to the class from this huge book of Greek myths. I sat there engrossed in every story picturing each beast, monster, god and goddess so vividly in my mind. I learnt all about Medusa, Hades, Hercules and Zeus there are so many stories.

As soon as I saw Mythos by Stephen Fry I knew I would love it. Not only because of a sense of nostalgia but I wanted to learn more about these myths. Fry re-tells the stories of the Greek Gods and Goddesses with such ease, beautiful description and a light humour. He shares his great knowledge and his own thoughts throughout, there are many asterixis on most pages, I ignored some and read some, it got a little tiresome stopping the flow of reading to look down and read more information, but I guess they are there if you want to know more.

What I found extremely interesting was how many words in the modern English language derive from ancient Greece. For example: Asclepius has a daughter called Hygieia, who taught the practise of cleanliness and diet, which today we call hygiene. So many fascinating back stories of where our language has come from, intertwined with these

The book is set out in very small chunk sized “chapters” so it was very easy to pick up and put down if I was busy. Also reading a lot of information in one go can be overwhelming with non-fiction so this broke it up really nicely. This isn’t a book you rush through as there are so many names to remember and connections, stories and information there is a lot to take in but the layout eases this and makes it enjoyable.

There are so many stories in this novel, one of my favourites was the tale of Cronos and how he would eat all his children as there was a curse that one day a child of his would overthrow him. His wife begins to get upset like any mother would, so she tricks Cronos to eating a cloth instead of the baby. He guzzles it down pleased with himself. The baby that lived was in fact Zeus the almighty God. Zeus eventually defeats Cronos and makes him regurgitate all his brothers and sisters that were eaten so they can be re-born. Such a weird, graphic and odd tale but I just loved reading it.

Fry re-tells all these loved and less known myths with such heart and humour, his natural ability to make these stories modern, easy to read and enjoyable is the reason why this book is so good.

The one thing I was slightly disappointed by was the fact that there were no myths about the monsters and legends that I remember from school like Medusa. It was all about Gods and Goddesses and how Zeus overthrew the Titans. I am hoping this means Fry will continue writing about the Greek myths and this will eventually be a series of books.

If you have any interest in Greek mythology I highly recommend this book to you. I do hope Stephen Fry plans to write more of these fantastic tales of triumph, revenge, action, despair, heartache and jealousy. I am craving to read more already, now that I have re-opened pandora’s box of Greek mythology I don’t want it to close.

Have you read Mythos? What did you like about it? What is your favourite Greek myth? I would love to know so get in touch. Katie x

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