Bulfinch's Mythology

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For almost a century and a half, Bulfinch's Mythology has been the text by which the great tales of the gods and goddesses, Greek and Roman antiquity; Scandinavian, Celtic, and Oriental fables and myths; and the age of chivalry have been known.
The stories are divided into three sections: The Age of Fable or Stories of Gods and Heroes (first published in 1855); The Age of Chivalry (1858), which contains King Arthur and His Knights, The Mabinogeon, and The Knights of English ...
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New, Oversize, Full Color, Hardcover Book, Huge And Heavy. Illustrated Edition Almost 1,000 Pages. Unread. Bullfinch's Is Prominent In The Mythology Field, As Well As Antiques ... And Collectibles. Read more Show Less

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Bulfinch's Mythology

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Overview

For almost a century and a half, Bulfinch's Mythology has been the text by which the great tales of the gods and goddesses, Greek and Roman antiquity; Scandinavian, Celtic, and Oriental fables and myths; and the age of chivalry have been known.
The stories are divided into three sections: The Age of Fable or Stories of Gods and Heroes (first published in 1855); The Age of Chivalry (1858), which contains King Arthur and His Knights, The Mabinogeon, and The Knights of English History; and Legends of Charlemagne or Romance of the Middle Ages (1863). For the Greek myths, Bulfinch drew on Ovid and Virgil, and for the sagas of the north, from Mallet's Northern Antiquities. He provides lively versions of the myths of Zeus and Hera, Venus and Adonis, Daphne and Apollo, and their cohorts on Mount Olympus; the love story of Pygmalion and Galatea; the legends of the Trojan War and the epic wanderings of Ulysses and Aeneas; the joys of Valhalla and the furies of Thor; and the tales of Beowulf and Robin Hood.
The tales are eminently readable. As Bulfinch wrote, "Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated. . . . Our book 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."

Thomas Bulfinch, in his day job, was a clerk in the Merchant's Bank of Boston, an undemanding position that afforded him ample leisure time in which to pursue his other interests. In addition to serving as secretary of the Boston Society of Natural History, he thoroughly researched the myths and legends and copiously cross-referenced them withliterature and art. As such, the myths are an indispensable guide to the cultural values of the nineteenth century; however, it is the vigor of the stories themselves that returns generation after generation to Bulfinch.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517274156
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1988
  • Edition description: Unabridged/Reprint
  • Pages: 957
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Thomas Bulfinch was an American writer born in Newton, MA. Stephanie L. Budin earned her Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Camden, NJ.
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Read an Excerpt

Bulfinch's Mythology

The Age of Fable
By Thomas Bulfinch

Doubleday Books

Copyright ©1990 Thomas Bulfinch
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1568650604


Excerpt


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 easylearning 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 "Æneid," and see what he can make of "the hatred of Juno," the "decree of the Parcæ," the "judgment of Paris," and the "honours 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 book 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 endeavoured 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 parlour.

Most of the classical legends in this book 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.

The Northern mythological stories are copied with some abridgement from Mallet's "Northern Antiquities." These chapters, with those on Oriental and Egyptian mythology, seemed necessary to complete the subject, though it is believed these topics have not usually been presented in the same volume with the classical fables.

The poetical citations so freely introduced are expected to answer several valuable purposes. They will tend to fix in memory the leading fact of each story, they will help to the attainment of a correct pronunciation of the proper names, and they will enrich the memory with many gems of poetry, some of them such as are most frequently quoted or alluded to in reading and conversation.

Having chosen mythology as connected with literature for our province, we have endeavoured to omit nothing which the reader of elegant literature is likely to find occasion for. Such stories and parts of stories as are offensive to pure taste and good morals are not given. But such stories are not often referred to, and if they occasionally should be, the English reader need feel no mortification in confessing his ignorance of them.

Our book is not for the learned, nor for the theologian, nor for the philosopher, but for the reader of English literature, of either sex, who wishes to comprehend the allusions so frequently made by public speakers, lecturers, essayists, and poets, and those which occur in polite conversation.

We trust our young readers will find it a source of entertainment; those more advanced a useful companion in their reading; those who travel, and visit museums and galleries of art, an interpreter of paintings and sculptures; those who mingle in cultivated society a key to allusions which are occasionally made; and last of all, those in advanced life pleasure in retracing a path of literature which leads them back to the days of their childhood, and revives at every step the associations of the morning of life.

The permanency of those associations is beautifully expressed in the well-known lines of Coleridge, in "The Piccolomini," Act ii, Scene 4:


"The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
The fair humanities of old religion,
The Power, the Beauty, and the Majesty
That had their haunts in dale or piny mountain,
Or forest, by slow stream, or pebbly spring,
Or chasms and watery depths; all these have vanished;
They live no longer in the faith of reason;
But still the heart doth need a language; still
Doth the old instinct bring back the old names;
Spirits or gods that used to share this earth
With man as with their friend; and at this day
'Tis Jupiter who brings whate'er is great,
And Venus who brings every thing that's fair."


Continues...

Excerpted from Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch Copyright ©1990 by Thomas Bulfinch. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 117 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(78)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 117 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 8, 2012

    A Must Read!

    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.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2004

    Perfected Mythology

    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.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2011

    hi

    its good

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    Good content but terrible editing.

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Love it

    Just aswome

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2011

    Really liked it

    I liked all the myths I can't get enough of them

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    WRONG

    Who ever said that this book wasn't good because no kid likes history is W-R-O-N-G WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2012

    Lovin it

    Just because you think history is boring does not mean Greek Myths is. I became infatuated with it in 4th grade. Now its dampened by Harry Potter, but still...

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    Great format

    Perfect for Nook Simple Touch, true to book

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    Jjr

    Never

    2 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2011

    Super

    It was a very interesting!!!!!!!!! :))))))))

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 18, 2011

    Awesomeness!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Best book ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2013

    Kelly

    Kronos....

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

    Sammi

    Kk.

    1 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    Matthew to Will

    My Father is Zeus of course.Who doesnt know that?

    1 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012

    Gona try this one out

    I havent read this book yet but if you liked this you will love the percy jackson series

    1 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Not good myths

    There are no myths about the gods as i had hoped all the myths are confusing and boring i dont recommend this book

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    This was not a good book

    This was not a good book because no kid likes history

    1 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2011

    Super boring

    This is really boring, dont reccomend it

    1 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2011

    So-so

    Kinda borring uhhhhh------

    1 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 117 Customer Reviews

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