Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

The want of an interesting work on Greek and Roman mythology, suitable for the requirements of both boys and girls, has long been recognized by the principals of our advanced schools. The study of the classics themselves, even where the attainments of the pupil have rendered this feasible, has not been found altogether successful in giving to the student a clear and succinct idea of the religious beliefs of the ancients, and it has been suggested that a work which would so deal with the subject as to render it at once interesting and instructive would be hailed as a valuable introduction to the study of classic authors, and would be found to assist materially the labours of both master and pupil.In endeavouring to supply this want I have sought to place before the reader a lifelike picture of the deities of classical times as they were conceived and worshipped by the ancients themselves, and thereby to awaken in the minds of young students a desire to become more intimately acquainted with the noble productions of classical antiquity.It has been my aim to render the Legends, which form the second portion of the work, a picture, as it were, of old Greek life; its customs, its superstitions, and its princely hospitalities, for which reason they are given at somewhat greater length than is usual in works of the kind.In a chapter devoted to the purpose some interesting particulars have been collected respecting the public worship of the ancient Greeks and Romans (more especially of the former), to which is subjoined an account of their principal festivals.I may add that no pains have been spared in order that, without passing over details the omission of which would have marred the completeness of the work, not a single passage should be found which could possibly offend the most scrupulous delicacy; and also that I have purposely treated the subject with that reverence which I consider due to every religious system, however erroneous.It is hardly necessary to dwell upon the importance of the study of Mythology: our poems, our novels, and even our daily journals teem with classical allusions; nor can a visit to our art galleries and museums be fully enjoyed without something more than a mere superficial knowledge of a subject which has in all ages inspired painters, sculptors, and poets. It therefore only remains for me to express a hope that my little work may prove useful, not only to teachers and scholars, but also to a large class of general readers, who, in whiling away a leisure hour, may derive some pleasure and profit from its perusal.— Excerpted from THE Myths and Legends OF ANCIENT GREECE AND ROMEby E. M. BERENS.

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By Tommy /|\ (Denton, TX) · ★★☆☆☆ · April 10, 2013
What an embarrassing piece of work. Berens litters most of the retellings of the myths and legends with his over-arching commentary on how each mythological tale and archetype is essentilly the work of a "savage", "crude" or "unrefined" civilization. ...more
By Tina (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · September 03, 2010
I read this on my e-reader, which meant I didn’t have access to the much lauded footnotes (major drawback I didn’t know about when I bought it!). However, I read it to refresh my memory of ancient mythology before settling down to read The Iliad, and I am amazingly glad I did. Berens has done an... ...more
By Fred · ★★★★☆ · October 24, 2014
This is a well researched and essential book for anyone trying to learn more in real depth about the religious beliefs of the Greeks and Romans. It doesn't go into any great depth in any one area but what it does is cover all ridiculous numbers of the Gods and Godesses of both Pantheons. I honest... ...more
By yyyasmin (Shah Alam, Malaysia) · ★★☆☆☆ · November 02, 2012
I understand that Greek Mythology is a pretty hefty topic, but the author presents in an easy and understandable way. It's just that, it was hard to keep track of so many characters, though, and at several points I did feel as if I was in a history lesson...and I dozed off. But if you read books... ...more
By David (The United States) · ★★★☆☆ · May 25, 2011
A good summary of Greek mythology, relating the stories well but not exhaustively. Roman mythology, however, plays a pretty small part. This book is available online for free. ...more
By Laura (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · January 11, 2010
Excellent quality Project Gutenberg ebook:

It's a keeper for reference. ...more
By Janeiva (The United States) · ★★☆☆☆ · July 18, 2014
By Mary · ★★★☆☆ · September 11, 2013
The reason why I like my myths as they are and not through someone's open interpretation or ordering is because the author usually tries to prove his POV with half-infos. So far, this is what Berens is doing... He doesn't have to mention what we believe nowadays or actually back in his days and h... ...more
By Andrew (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · March 27, 2014
This book really goes deep into the belief of the ancient Greeks and Romans. It talks about all of the important gods and goddess. It also talks about the minor divinities like the furies. The book also talk about the legends of the heroes like Heracles and Odysseus: that is not in a lot of Roman... ...more
By Judy (Wahiawa, HI) · ★★★★☆ · September 26, 2011
This was a very thorough examination of Greek and Roman mythology. Unlike Edith Hamilton's Mythology, Berens goes into much more detail. However, like I mentioned in my review of Hamilton's Mythology, the best way to get the full details is to read the sources.

I have the Kindle version of this, a... ...more