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Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes

Have you ever opened a Pandora's Box, suspected a Trojan Horse or been struck by Cupid's arrow? Or have you tempted Fate, been visited by your Muse or lured in by a Siren song? Have you made a Herculean effort, been on an Odyssey or wished you had the Midas touch?

The stories of Greek mythology were first recorded around 3000 years ago, and they are so entertaining that people have been re-telling them ever since. When the ancient Roman empire extended to cover Greece, the Romans adopted and adapted the Greek stories, bestowing the character names which we most easily recognise today. Aphrodite became Venus, Eros became Cupid, Ares became Mars, and so on. The stories have also inspired other writers throughout history. Pyramus and Thisbe gave rise to Romeo and Juliet. Pygmalion was updated in George Bernard Shaw's play of the same name, which in turn became My Fair Lady. The Odyssey set the scene for generations of 'quest' adventures. 

The most comprehensive and accessible collection of Greek and Roman mythology was published by Edith Hamilton in 1942. My mother used to read me bedtime stories from her tatty old paperback copy. When I started my own book collection I found a nice hard-cover, which I have lugged around the country with me for 25 years. Recently, I discovered that the spine had irreparably broken away, and in hunting down another copy I was delighted to discover that it is still in print (although for nostalgic reason I opted for a lovely old hard-cover, the same as my late, lamented copy).

The stories are brimming over with romance and adventure, and although they are filled with gods and ancient superheroes, what they most reveal are the enduring features of human nature. We have no difficulty in recognising the personalities, motivations and behaviours of the characters. In these stories we see human folly in all it's forms - arrogance, anxiety, impatience, jealousy and more. It seems that thousands of years of progress hasn't changed any of that. 

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