Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tales Of Ancient Greece

by Enid Blyton

A collection of sixteen stories from Greek myths (mostly taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses), retold for juveniles.   Some, such as Icarus’ fall and King Midas’ wish, are extremely familiar, while a few have not permeated as deeply into out popular culture (Clytie who loved Apollo and watched his passage each day; Baucis and Philemon, who were kind to the gods in disguise and were thus the only ones to survive the mass drowning of their village – a story much more familiar in its Judeo-Christian frame).

This thin, 104-page book is a readable, fun introduction to some of the more colorful tales of Greek myth.  Blyton is a fine writer, and adds color, mood, and motive to the tales.  Most deal with the consequences of hubris (Arachne, Phaeton) or the simple misfortune of having caught the eye of a god (Io, Daphne, Midas, Persephone).   The “morals” of these tales, if they could be said to have a lesson and not simply serve to explain the natural world, seem mostly to be that bad things come to those who don’t know their place.  This is not a moral that American youth are brought up to find tasteful, but Blyton strives to put a happy face on even the most tragic of tales, concluding that Orpheus and Eurydice were reunited eternally in death, or casting the tale of Pygmalion and Galatea as a happily-ever-after story.

four stars

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