Looking For Good, Uncensored Books on Ancient Mythologies

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by JD, Oct 14, 2021.

  1. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Lately I've been trying to find some good, uncensored books on the original versions of the different ancient mythologies. Most of the books I find are kiddie versions, and I'm looking for ones that has all of the not-kid-friendly stuff left in. I'm mainly interested in Greek/Roman, Norse, Egyptian, Irish, and Native American mythologies. Anybody have any recommendation
     
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  2. wayoung

    wayoung Commodore Commodore

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    Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology is great - at least the audiobook version was.
     
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  3. Cancel Culture

    Cancel Culture Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I have nothing specific, but perhaps you could look at undergraduate or graduate-level texts on mythology. Take a look at some university courses that study the areas you are interested in, and then take a look at their textbooks. If there's a university near you, you might get lucky and be able to flip through them in a bookstore and see if that's what you're looking for. You might also try consulting with a professor who teaches such courses.
     
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  4. Wednesday Addams

    Wednesday Addams Princess of the Dark Arts Premium Member

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    Oh my, you've hit one of my passions! :biggrin: I'm home sick with a head cold today, so let me get a nap and then I'll cruise my bookshelves for some recommendations.

    I second @wayoung on Gaiman's book. It's an entertaining read *and* well researched.
     
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  5. Hades Temperature Checker

    Hades Temperature Checker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    So, this one is going to sound a bit odd. Brian Godawa does an interesting fantasy style series based around Jewish mythology and biblical stories. However, half of his books are usually his research in to what the early Hebrews/Jews believed, and how that was similar or different from their neighboring countries. So, he ends up unpacking not only Jewish but also Canaanite, some Egyptian, and Sumerian culture and myth as well.

    His fictional books are really interesting but the research is what I'm usually reading more of. His website is here.
     
  6. Wednesday Addams

    Wednesday Addams Princess of the Dark Arts Premium Member

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    A few quick comments:
    • The biggest problems (IMO) in mythology are the "layering" over time and the loss of oral traditions. For example, it's pretty easy to find a lot of the stories of the Norse. But, they weren't written down until after Christianization. So it's hard to tell what's original and what was "censored" or re-written.
    • Greek/Roman - the most popular and easiest to find. Not actually completely the same, but usually treated that way. The Romans were amazing at conquering people and then integrating those people's beliefs into the Empire. This is where the layering comes in too - successive waves of conquerors brought their own stories and combined them with what was already there and/or said "hey, there's a Zeus over here and another over there; they must be the same guy."
    • Plus, the neo-Pagan revivals of the Victorian era through the New Age has led to both very good and truly terrible scholarship. I have literally seen bibliographies that had nothing in them but other commentaries.
    • Therefore (see my English degree kicking in!), the concepts of "original" and "uncensored" are... well, meaningless. :biggrin:
    So it kind of depends what you're looking for: good retellings of the best known stories, just not aimed at kids; scholarly works; research for something; etc.

    Also, "Native American" is a HUGE mass of stuff. There are 550-ish federally-recognized tribes in the US (which isn't all of them that are or were) and they are very different from each other. So are you looking for a good intro sort of book or something deeper there?
     
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  7. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe something a bit deeper than just an intro.
    And for the Native American, I'd probably go for Navajo since that seems to be one that has permeated pop culture the most.
    Basically I'm just looking for stuff that sticks to the more traditional versions of the stories, and doesn't "put their own spin on it" like the Disney Hercules, or Hercules & Xena.
    I just got frustrated when I tried looking for books on Greek mythology a month or two back, and most of what I could find on Amazon were kids books. The few I could find that weren't, had barely any reviews or anything for them, so I had no idea if they were actually any good.
     
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  8. Wednesday Addams

    Wednesday Addams Princess of the Dark Arts Premium Member

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    Gotcha! I'll see what I can do. :biggrin:
     
  9. Hades Temperature Checker

    Hades Temperature Checker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Why not call some universities?
     
  10. thribs

    thribs Vice Admiral Admiral

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  11. Wednesday Addams

    Wednesday Addams Princess of the Dark Arts Premium Member

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    Those look good. I recommend The Greek Myths by Robert Graves and The Odyssey (I've been told the new translation by Emily Wilson is excellent) as well.
     
  12. The Return of Zombie Cheerleader

    The Return of Zombie Cheerleader Moar Nu Trek Pleeze Premium Member

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    I was about to mention Graves.
     
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  13. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Edith Hamilton is a classic for Greek Mythology: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/606289.Mythology

    But I would also suggest looking on Wikipedia and using the cited resources for inspiration.
     
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  14. EmoBorg

    EmoBorg Commodore Commodore

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  15. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks guys and gals, these are some great ideas, I'll definitely be checking some of these out.
    I don't know if I really want to go that far with it.
     
  16. Wednesday Addams

    Wednesday Addams Princess of the Dark Arts Premium Member

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    There's also this one (I was lucky enough to get it used): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/187873.Mythology?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=HR7Jh67QRB&rank=1

    For Irish myths, this is the "gold standard": https://www.goodreads.com/book/show...s?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=6lwphOTiMi&rank=4

    Most of the Norse myths come to us from this: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24658.The_Prose_Edda

    I don't know much about Egyptian mythology, but looking around, this is the one I'd buy: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show...arch=true&from_srp=true&qid=5yIyZ5sQPb&rank=1

    The Diné (known as the Navajo) actually have a lot of info online:
    http://navajopeople.org/navajo-legends.htm
    http://www.native-languages.org/navajo-legends.htm

    Have fun!
     
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  17. Hades Temperature Checker

    Hades Temperature Checker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Some class syllabi could be helpful.
     
  18. Dr. Kravaal

    Dr. Kravaal Vice Admiral Admiral

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    While fiction, Mailer’s “Ancient Evenings” might be worth a look.

    The elaborate separations of one’s soulbeing by the Egyptians is of interest
     
  19. vandevere

    vandevere Commander Red Shirt

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    That was a fascinating read!
     
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  20. Restless Spirit

    Restless Spirit Wandering the Mortal Realm Moderator

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    @JD , I've never read this, so I can't speak to how good it is or whether it will meet your needs (although the reviews generally seem highly favourable). However, I just wanted to mention that the ebook version of the 75th anniversary edition appears to be on sale at both Amazon and Kobo here in Canada, for a limited time. If this one was of any interest to you, it might be worth your while to take a look to see if it is also on sale in the US.

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