Of course, Edith Hamilton did not write the Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies. It’s appropriate to say that this book is her retelling of these mythologies, a sort of idiot’s guide. A glossary, even, of mythological characters. If it weren’t for her, would we be able to go through Iliad and Odyssey? We could, but not without some hemorrhaging.
Hamilton did the dirty job of condensing the epics and transforming them into simple, straightforward storytelling. This book is almost always seen on sale bins for what? Php 20.00? I wouldn’t get it if readers do not have a copy of this. Not that it is monumental as far as the writing is concerned, but it is an important book.
Why is it important?
There was once a king who had three daughters, all lovely maidens, but the youngest, Psyche, excelled her sisters so greatly that beside them she seemed a very goddess consorting with mere mortals. The fame of her surpassing beauty spread over the earth, and everywhere men journeyed to gaze upon her with wonder and adoration and to do her homage as though she were in truth one of the immortals. They would even say that Venus herself could not equal this mortal. As they thronged in ever-growing numbers to worship her loveliness no one any more gave a thought to Venus herself. Her temples were neglected; her altars foul with cold ashes; her favorite towns deserted and falling in ruins. All the honors once hers were now given to a mere girl destined some day to die.
First, a lot of books, and a lot of stuff in this world, allude or refer to mythological stuff. To be able to understand such, we must be able to at least have an idea who the heck Zeus is. You don’t know? Please stop reading now. The thought of a person who spends so much time reading random stuff published on the Internet and who doesn’t know who Zeus is disturbs me. Or maybe Jupiter works better?
Second, it’s a stepping stone toward a greater appreciation of literature. Sure, most of us have been forced to memorize the family tree of our erratic gods and goddesses, but didn’t you enjoy the drama spurred by the beauty contest of Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite? The adventures of Odysseus? Random stories from minor gods and goddesses?
And third, well, I couldn’t think of anything else. It’s the classic of all classics. And I just like it, that’s all, and I hope for it to be important, which I assume is already the case.
What I like most among these tales is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. I don’t want to tell their story because that is Hamilton’s job. I am drawn to this hero mostly because of his lyre. Never mind that he wasn’t successful in bringing Eurydice back from the underworld, but you have to understand that it’s hard not to look back when the person you love is behind you.
Mushy? Maybe, but before I digress, I’d like to point out that these Greek gods and goddesses do not act like their supposed godly selves. They get jealous, they outsmart each other, they bicker, slap each other, kill each other, eat each other, heck, they are as human as any human can get. They are gods in the sense that they have superhuman abilities. Other than that, they are not the ideal gods who are supposed to look over the world.
And this stands in stark contrast against the Norse gods. They suffer so much and the things they do are hopeless. There seems to be no hope for them, which is ironic because they are gods. They don’t even have the consolation of being good-looking or having a good pair of eyes, in the case of Odin. And he is a chief god, for whatever’s sakes!
But here’s the thing. Odin doesn’t have his other eye because he gave it away in search of wisdom. How’s that for our promiscuous Zeus? Is that thunder I hear?
The enduring and forbearing qualities of the Norse gods make me want to join their team. If you don’t know yet, I am a god. Well, Angus, my namesake, is a Celtic god. I don’t know much about Celtic mythology, but I know this much.
Angus is the god of love, laughter, and wisdom. Hah! Did my parents know that? I doubt it. They told me I was named after Angus Young of AC/DC, that iconic guitarist who wears mismatched clothes.
Perhaps if my parents were as nerdy and geeky as I am, my hopes of being named after the Celtic character are not in vain. But they are just that, my nanay and my tatay. My mom being a loving mom and my dad being whatever.
But I am not supposed to be talking about that. You have to forgive me, because once in a while, clips from my so-called life might slip here as a result of putting my personal blog on an extended hiatus. Anyway, here’s an image of Angus the Celtic god (please do your research to know his background, xxxx),
and here’s Angus Young.
Not part of mythology, I know, even these last words. There’s a book that I always see at book stores by Alexander McCall Smith, Dream Angus. You think I should buy it? I think I’m going to buy it soon.