A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths

Written by Stephen Kershaw
Review by Sarah Bower

This is an absorbing hotch potch of a book, more in the tradition of Graves’s Greek Myths than a straightforward encyclopaedia-style guide. Grouping the Greek myths under broad headings such as The Creation of Man and Woman, or The Trojan War, as well as chapters devoted to specific figures such as Oedipus or Achilles, Kershaw looks at versions of the tales, including modern films and the way in which mythological figures have been absorbed into modern language and culture – Achilles’ heel, Trojan viruses etc. There is also a section on different approaches to interpreting the myths and understanding their symbolism.

This is a dense text, not, perhaps as light as the title and packaging would indicate, but a good index makes it easy to use for reference. I found Kershaw’s insistence on spellings which I assume are transcriptions of Greek, rather than the spellings we are used to, irritating. Oidipous, for example, or Great Aias (Ajax). This seems an unnecessary conceit and tends to distract one’s reading.