Mythology

by: Edith Hamilton

Part One, Chapters I–II

Summary Part One, Chapters I–II

The complexity of the myths and the large cast of characters may also be due to the diversity of sources and traditions from which Hamilton compiles her material. She borrows from playwrights and poets whose works span two vastly different cultures and more than a millennium of history. Versions of the same myths differ across these sources, as Greek and Roman cultures had no singular work—like the Bible in Judeo-Christian tradition—to house a definitive version of their stories. Each author was thus an independent inventor, altering the myths to suit his own tastes and purposes. Hamilton herself is a similar kind of reteller, a redefiner and reinterpreter more than a simple collector of stories. She notes multiple versions of her stories, but usually prefers one over others. In any case, her retelling alerts us to the incredible depth of the world of Greek myth.