Best Books for Kids and Adults Interested in Greek Mythology

Read about Greek gods and myths in books by ancient and modern authors.

Poseidon and Polybotes
Poseidon and Polybotes. Clipart.com

Which are the best sources for readers interested in the Greek myths and the history behind them? Here are suggestions for people of varying ages and levels of knowledge.

Greek Myths for Young People

For young people, a wonderful resource is the lovely, illustrated D'aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. There are also online, out of copyright, and therefore somewhat old-fashioned versions of the Greek myths written for young people, including Nathaniel Hawthorne's popular Tanglewood Tales, Padraic Colum's story of the Golden Fleece, which is one of the central episodes in Greek mythology, and Charles Kingsley's The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales for My Children.

Anthologies of Greek myths that are appropriate for children include Tales of the Greek Heroes: Retold From the Ancient Authors, by Roger Lancelyn Green.  Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad, by Rosemary Sutcliff, is a good introduction to Homer and the tale of Troy that is so central to any study of ancient Greece.

Suggested Reading for Adults with Limited Knowledge of Greek Myths and History
 

For somewhat older people who are curious about the stories and real-life history related to Greek myths, a good choice is Thomas Bulfinch's The Age of Fable or Stories of Gods and Heroes coupled with Ovid's Metamorphoses. Bulfinch is widely available, including online, and the stories entertain as well as explain, with the caveat that he prefers Roman names like Jupiter and Proserpine to Zeus and Persephone; his approach is all explained in the introduction.

Ovid's work is a classic that ties together so many stories as to be somewhat overwhelming, which is why it is best read in combination with Bulfinch, who, incidentally, developed many of his stories by translating Ovid.

To be truly familiar with Greek mythology, you really should know a good portion of the allusions Ovid makes.

Suggested Reading for Adults with More Advanced Knowledge of Greek Myths and History

For those already familiar with Bulfinch, the next book to pick up is Timothy Gantz' Early Greek Myths, although this is a 2-volume reference work, rather than a book to read.

If you haven't already read The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Hesiod's Theogony, those are essentials for Greek mythology. The works of the Greek tragedians, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, are also basics; Euripides may be the easiest to digest for modern American readers.