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The Gods of Olympus

A History

Barbara Graziosi


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ISBN10: 1250062349
ISBN13: 9781250062345

Trade Paperback

304 Pages



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The gods of Olympus are the most colorful characters of Greek civilization: even in antiquity, they were said to be cruel, oversexed, mad, or just plain silly. Yet for all their foibles and flaws, they proved to be tough survivors, far outlasting their original worshippers. In Egypt, the Olympian gods claimed to have given birth to pharaohs; in Rome, they led respectable citizens into orgiastic rituals of drink and sex. Under Christianity and Islam they survived as demons, allegories, and planets. And in the Renaissance, they triumphantly emerged as ambassadors of a new, secular belief in humanity.

In a lively, original history of mythology, Barbara Graziosi offers the first account to trace the wanderings of these inventive deities through the millennia. Drawing on a wide range of literary and archaeological sources, The Gods of Olympus opens a new window on the ancient world and its lasting influence.


Praise for The Gods of Olympus

“An engaging introduction to a fascinating topic . . . Graziosi narrates the many metamorphoses of the Greek gods with humor and erudition.”The Christian Science Monitor

“Informed by considerable expertise, yet wears its learning lightly . . . A rich and stimulating introduction to the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.”Times Literary Supplement (London)

“Cutting-edge history . . . Deploying an intriguing combination of old-fashioned and inventive approaches to the classical world and its reception, Barbara Graziosi here breaks new ground in the interpretation of the major Greek gods.”Times Higher Education (London)

“There is still life in the Olympians . . . An erudite and engaging account of their history and remarkable survival.”The Literary Review (London)

“Graziosi's writing is accessible and entertaining, her passion for her subject obvious . . . A comprehensive and absorbing study.”Shelf Awareness

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


At Home in Greece
Tall, broad, and covered in snow for much of the year, Mount Olympus stands alone, fully visible from every side. It dominates the landscape for miles; its dazzling peaks seem particularly incongruous when...

About the author

Barbara Graziosi

BARBARA GRAZIOSI is the author of Inventing Homer and Homer in the Twentieth Century, among other works. In 2011, she provided the introduction and notes for a new translation of the Iliad for Oxford World's Classics. A professor of classics at Durham University, Graziosi is also a contributor to The Times Higher Education Supplement, the London Review of Books, and BBC radio programs on the arts. The Gods of Olympus is her first trade book. She lives in the U.K.

Jonathan Pearson