Tales of the Greek Heroes
by Roger Lancelyn Green
All right class. What do you know about the gods and heroes of ancient Greece? How
many Olympians can you name? Who were the Argonauts and what did they seek? What
were the twelve labors of Hercules and why did he do them? Which gods made babies
with mortals, and what did those babies do when they grew up? Well? Are you ready
for the quiz? Do you even care?
Some kids like science fiction. Some like fantasy. Some like adventure, mystery,
what have you. And some kids like reading stories based on the ancient myths. There
have always been some kids like that, but there do not seem to be many these days. I
was never one of those kids, but I still enjoyed this book. I do know one of those
kids, though. He's going to love this book.
Roger Lancelyn Green was a kid like that, too. Inspired by the tales of Andrew Lang
and H. Rider Haggard, Lancelyn Green fell in love with the world's oldest tales. He
learned Greek and Latin, studied ancient manuscripts, traveled abroad - especially
to Greece - and then wrote over a dozen books retelling traditional tales. This is
one of the best-known and -loved of them.
You may have read collections of ancient Greek and Roman myths before. I have. I
remember reading anthologies about gods and heroes when I was a kid. The stories
were not connected. It was often difficult to figure out how they fit together. One
sensed complicated lines of relationship between characters and events, but there
were so many gaps and seeming contradictions that it was hard to make sense of them.
Plus, there would always be boring passages where the editor quoted a bit of the
original Greek or Latin at you (of which, thanks to the wonders modern education,
you couldn't read a word). Or the clever fellow would put things in a roundabout
way, assuming you knew what he was talking about, when in fact you had no frame of
reference to pick up on his subtleties. Bottom line, reading about mythology always
seemed like work - school work, most likely; dry, dull, difficult, and full of
trivial details that you knew you were going to be on the quiz - but other than
that, you couldn't make out why you needed to learn them.
The real problem was that you didn't read Roger Lancelyn Green's version first. This
is the book you should have started with! This is the one that makes sense of it
all! Lancelyn Green fits the main people and events of ancient Greek mythology
together in one easy-to-read narrative flow. He uses language of simple grace,
rather than obscure poetry, to explain who was who and what they did. His writing
style is tight, clear, and vivid. You may disagree with his theories about how and
why these stories got started, but it's hard to argue with such a comprehensive and
approachable view of the entire body of Greek myth.
Lancelyn Green had a massive wall-chart showing how everyone and everything in these
stories connected together; after reading the way he tells the tales, you won't need
a chart like that. It's that clear, and it is thrilling to read, and if it gets you
hooked on ancient myth you will be better prepared to begin reading the versions by
Kingsley, Hawthorne, Rouse, Vernant, and others. Or maybe you'll just get hooked on
classic tales told the way Lancelyn Green tells them. If so, you may be interested
in knowing that some of his other books include The Tale of Troy, The Tale of
Thebes, Tales of Ancient Egypt, King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table,
Adventures of Robin Hood, Myths of the Norsemen, A Cavalcade of Dragons, Thirteen
Uncanny Tales, and more.
Recommended Age: 10+
If you would like to contact Robbie, you may do so here.