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BULFINCH'S MYTHOLOGY
     

BULFINCH'S MYTHOLOGY

4.2 107
by THOMAS BULFINCH
 

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AUTHOR'S PREFACE


If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which
helps to enlarge our possessions or to raise our station in
society, then Mythology has no claim to the appellation. But if
that which tends to make us happier and better can be called
useful, then we claim that epithet for our subject. For Mythology
is

Overview

AUTHOR'S PREFACE


If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which
helps to enlarge our possessions or to raise our station in
society, then Mythology has no claim to the appellation. But if
that which tends to make us happier and better can be called
useful, then we claim that epithet for our subject. For Mythology
is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best
allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.

Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of
our own language cannot be understood and appreciated. When Byron
calls Rome "the Niobe of nations," or says of Venice, "She looks a
Sea-Cybele fresh from ocean," he calls up to the mind of one
familiar with our subject, illustrations more vivid and striking
than the pencil could furnish, but which are lost to the reader
ignorant of mythology. Milton abounds in similar allusions. The
short poem "Comus" contains more than thirty such, and the ode "On
the Morning of the Nativity" half as many. Through "Paradise Lost"
they are scattered profusely. This is one reason why we often hear
persons by no means illiterate say that they cannot enjoy Milton.
But were these persons to add to their more solid acquirements the
easy learning of this little volume, much of the poetry of Milton
which has appeared to them "harsh and crabbed" would be found
"musical as is Apollo's lute." Our citations, taken from more than
twenty-five poets, from Spenser to Longfellow, will show how
general has been the practice of borrowing illustrations from
mythology.

The prose writers also avail themselves of the same source of
elegant and suggestive illustration. One can hardly take up a
number of the "Edinburgh" or "Quarterly Review" without meeting
with instances. In Macaulay's article on Milton there are twenty
such.

But how is mythology to be taught to one who does not learn it
through the medium of the languages of Greece and Rome? To devote
study to a species of learning which relates wholly to false
marvels and obsolete faiths is not to be expected of the general
reader in a practical age like this. The time even of the young is
claimed by so many sciences of facts and things that little can be
spared for set treatises on a science of mere fancy.

But may not the requisite knowledge of the subject be acquired by
reading the ancient poets in translations? We reply, the field is
too extensive for a preparatory course; and these very
translations require some previous knowledge of the subject to
make them intelligible. Let any one who doubts it read the first
page of the "Aeneid," and see what he can make of "the hatred of
Juno," the "decree of the Parcae," the "judgment of Paris," and
the "honors of Ganymede," without this knowledge.

Shall we be told that answers to such queries may be found in
notes, or by a reference to the Classical Dictionary? We reply,
the interruption of one's reading by either process is so annoying
that most readers prefer to let an allusion pass unapprehended
rather than submit to it. Moreover, such sources give us only the
dry facts without any of the charm of the original narrative; and
what is a poetical myth when stripped of its poetry? The story of
Ceyx and Halcyone, which fills a chapter in our book, occupies but
eight lines in the best (Smith's) Classical Dictionary; and so of
others.

Our work is an attempt to solve this problem, by telling the
stories of mythology in such a manner as to make them a source of
amusement. We have endeavored to tell them correctly, according to
the ancient authorities, so that when the reader finds them
referred to he may not be at a loss to recognize the reference.
Thus we hope to teach mythology not as a study, but as a
relaxation from study; to give our work the charm of a story-book,
yet by means of it to impart a knowledge of an important branch of
education. The index at the end will adapt it to the purposes of
reference, and make it a Classical Dictionary for the parlor.

Most of the classical legends in "Stories of Gods and Heroes" are
derived from Ovid and Virgil. They are not literally translated,
for, in the author's opinion, poetry translated into literal prose
is very unattractive reading. Neither are they in verse, as well
for other reasons as from a conviction that to translate
faithfully under all the embarrassments of rhyme and measure is
impossible. The attempt has been made to tell the stories in
prose, preserving so much of the poetry as resides in the thoughts
and is separable from the language itself, and omitting those
amplifications which are not suited to the altered form.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940012352729
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
04/03/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
856 KB

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Bulfinch's Mythology (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 107 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bulfinch's Mythology, one of the tools used when creating my novel, Grecian Rune, is a cornerstone in the understanding of modern story-telling. Simple to understand, and decorated with acute illustrations, this mythology compilation is the one for all ages. Needless to say, it is as definitive as the works of Isaac Asimov and J.R.R. Tolkien. I strongly recomend this for anyone interested in Greek Mythology and other myths and legends.
ClassicReaderBW More than 1 year ago
Bulfinch does a great job of retelling the classic Greek/Roman myths of antiquity as well as the myths of Old Europe including, among others, Arthur, Charlemange, Orlando, and Thor. One part that stands out is the Mabinogeon which (and this is noted on page 561 of the Modern Library edition) has a Thousand and One Nights fell to it. One part that appeared to not fit into the book at all was Chapter 37 of The Age of Fable, which hastily describes a portion of Eastern Mythology. Although this section has no true faults with the information, one gets the sense that Bulfinch quickly threw the myths together and since he didn't have room for them anywhere else he put them in this chapter. Although it does not take away from the quality of the book it might have been better had Bulfinch chosen either to elaborate slightly on the myths or to not include them altogether. However, for an introduction to classical mythology for the reader who is having trouble understanding Byron or Milton or Shakespeare or a hundred other classical European and American writers this book is a godsend. Bulfinch tailored this book to just this kind of reader. At times it may seem a bit dry, but Bulfinch intended his work to be used as a reference mainly (which is why he included a great index in the back of The Age of Fable). For those readers who are interested in mythology as an end unto itself, I recommend this work as your main road map through this sometimes confusing trail. Robert Graves and Edith Hamilton's works are good also but in my opinion Bulfinch outdoes both of them. From here you will definitely want to look at the Madrus and Mathers 4 vol. edition of the Thousand Nights and One Night (that is the full title) if you liked the Eastern feel that you get in Chapter 37 in the Age of Fable and the Mabinogeon. If you are interested in the Greek and Roman myths mainly go straight to the horses mouth and read Ovid, Homer, and Virgil. For more European mythology, Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur is indespensable. I recommend Penguin's two volume edition but with some hesitation, as the annotation is a bit strange, making you flip back and forth between the front of the book and the back of the book. However, Penguin prints out almost every major mythological story, ranging from the Medieval French Romances to the Icelandic Sagas. As stated before, let Bulfinch lead you through this mass of myths, he knows what he's doing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The material is timeless and interesting. Although the book is very inexpensive, the editing is atrocious. There many misspellings, words, phrases and in some cases, entire sentences simply missing. I would suggest that if you are going to do it, take the time to do it correctly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked all the myths I can't get enough of them
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perfect for Nook Simple Touch, true to book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who ever said that this book wasn't good because no kid likes history is W-R-O-N-G WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just aswome
Jerry Stevens More than 1 year ago
its good
Guest More than 1 year ago
This masterpiece is great for all ages. It is easy enough to read for say an eighth grader but true enough for a woman say at the age of 50. It is truly inspiring and worth reading. Greek Mythology is incredible and entertaining. It is worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sat by a tree nd burried her facr in her paws 'Firepelt i miss you...i wish you were here' she meowed to herself as a tear slipped from her eye
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She looked to firepelt meowing "hello"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pads in, a large rabbit dangling from his jaws. He dropped it in the fresh kill pile, then went to a sunny spot and began grooming.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How many chapters does this edition have.
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really captivates your imagination, well written.
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Hi kelly!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago