Mythology Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, Deluxe Illustrated Edition. by Hamilton, Edith

Review :

Pindar in the early fifth century tells the tale about the feast Tantalus made the gods and protests that it is not true. The punishment of Tantalus is described often, first in the Odyssey, from which I have taken it. Amphion's story, and Niobe's, I have taken from Ovid, who alone tells them in full. For Pelops winning the chariot race I have preferred Apollodorus, of the first or second century A.D., who gives the fullest account that has come down. The story of Atreus' and Thyestes' crimes and all that followed is taken from Aeschylus' Oresteia.
from the intro to chapter 17, The House of Atreus

I was stressing out last night over trying to get a handle on the third part of Aeschylus' Oresteia, The Eumenides. I'd started reading the introductory material by the translator, but it was so long, so involved ... almost as if it were a postmodern retelling of the play.

What's more (displaying my ignorance here) I was confused over the title of the play, and some of the main protagonists of the play, the Furies. They are represented by a chorus, pursuing Orestes for his murder of his mother. But where does the title come from

I picked up some info somewhere in the edition I'm reading, and finally realized that in the climactic section of the play the Furies are rebranded by Athena into the Eumenides - a name that means Kindly Ones - thus changing them from a group seeking revenge and retribution (the old way that humans responded to murder) to a group which provides a higher moral choice to human kind, through the institution of justice.

But before I let it go, I picked up Hamilton's book, and checked out the index entries for Eumenides (248) and Furies (see Erinyes) - so to Erinyes, where among other entries was (Orestes pursued by, 246-248) - which closed the circle. Those three pages were near the end of an eighteen page chapter on the House of Atreus. As I started looking through this (to get to my point) I realized that this chapter told the story of this house in a more illuminating way than the somewhat overly cerebral, mammoth introduction in my copy of Oresteia.

So, I thought I'd throw in these words about this quite wonderful book, most of which I've never read in the decades that I've owned it (basically having used it as a reference book).

As hinted above, the book has a pretty detailed, and very useful, index. There are drawings by Steele Savage, some full-page (in my Mentor edition of sometime after 1970, which was at the time the forty-fourth printed of Hamilton's book, first printed in 1940. It is still in print.

In the spoiler I've put the table of contents. If you check it out, you'll see the wonderful way that Hamilton has organized it. And you'll see why the book isn't titled Greek Mythology.
(view spoiler)[
Introduction to Classical Myhtology
- The mythology of the Greeks
- The Greek and Roman Writers of Mythology

Part One: The Gods, the Creation, and the Earliest Heroes

1. The Gods
- The Titans and the Twelve Great Olympians
- The Lesser Gods of Olympus
- The Gods of the Waters
- The Underworld
- The Lesser Gods of Earth
- The Roman Gods

2. The Two Great Gods of Earth
- Demeter (Ceres)
- Dionysus or Bacchus

3. How the World and Mankind WereCreated

4. The Earliest Heroes
- Prometheus and Io
- Europa
- The Cyclops Polyphemus
- Flower Myths: Narcissus, Hyacinth, Adonis

Part Two: Stories of Love and Adventure

5. Cupid and Psyche

6. Eight Brief Tales of Lovers
- Pyramus and Thisbe
- Orpheus and Eurydice
- Ceyx and Alcyone
- Pygmalion and Galatea
- Baucis and Philemon
- Endymion
- Daphne
- Alpheus and Arethusa

7. The Quest of the Golden Fleece

8. Four Great Adventures
- Phaethon
- Pegasus and Bellerophon
- Otus and Ephialtes
- Daedalus

Part Three: The Great Heroes Before the Trojan War

9. Perseus

10. Theseus

11. Hercules

12. Atalanta

Part Four: The Heroes of the Trojan War

13. The Trojan War
- Prologue The Judgement of Paris
- The Trojan War

14. The Fall of Troy

15. The Adventures of Odysseus

16. The Adventures of Aeneas
- Part One: From Troy to Italy
- Part Two: The Descent Into the Lower World
- Part Three: The War in Italy

Part Five: The Great Families of Mythology

17. The House of Atreus
- Tantalus and Niobe
- Agamemnon and His Children
- Iphigenia among the Taurians

18. The Royal House of Thebes
- Cadmus and His Children
- Oedipus
- Antigone
- The Seven against Thebes

19. The Royal House of Athens
- Cecrops
- Procne and Philomena
- Procris and Cephalus
- Orithyia and Boreas
- Creusa and Ion

Part Six: The Less Important Myths
20. Midas - and Others
- Midas
- Aesulapius
- The Danaeds
- Glaucus and Scylla
- Erysichthon
- Pomona and Vertmnus

21. Brief Myths Arranged Alphabetically

Part Seven: The Mythology of the Norsemen

Introduction to Norse Mythology

22. The Stories of Signy and Sigurd

23. The Norse Gods
- The Creation
- The Norse Wisdom

- The Principle Gods
- Descendants of Prometheus
- Ancestors of Perseus and Hercules
- Ancestors of Achilles
- The House of Troy
- The Family of Helen of Troy
- The Royal House of Thebes and the Atreidae
- The House of Athens
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