Gripping tales that abound with fantastic characters and astonishing twists and turns, Greek myths confront what it means to be mortal in a world of powerful forces beyond human control. Little wonder that they continue to fascinate readers thousands of years after they were first told. Gods and Mortals is a major new telling of ancient Greek myths by one of the world’s preeminent experts. In a fresh, vibrant, and compelling style that draws readers into the lives of the characters, Sarah Iles Johnston offers new narrations of all the best-known tales as well as others that are seldom told, taking readers on an enthralling journey from the origin of the cosmos to the aftermath of the Trojan War.
Some of the mortals in these stories are cursed by the gods, while luckier ones are blessed with resourcefulness and resilience. Gods transform themselves into animals, humans, and shimmering gold to visit the earth in disguise—where they sometimes transform offending mortals into new forms, too: a wolf, a spider, a craggy rock. Other mortals—both women and men—use their wits and strength to conquer the monsters created by the gods—gorgons, dragons, harpies, fire-breathing bulls.
Featuring captivating original illustrations by Tristan Johnston, Gods and Mortals highlights the rich connections between the different characters and stories, draws attention to the often-overlooked perspectives of female characters, and stays true both to the tales and to the world in which ancient people lived. The result is an engaging and entertaining new take on the Greek myths.
Awards and Recognition
- A New York Post "Required Reading" Book
"[A] superb retelling. . . . Nuanced, sympathetic and deeply moving."—Michael Dirda, Washington Post
"Sarah Iles Johnston brings exceptional verve and scholarship to Gods and Mortals: Ancient Greek Myths for Modern Readers, a comprehensive volume. . . . [Johnston] restores the lustiness of tales that other writers have made bloodless. . . . Armchair enthusiasts may find some surprises."—Meghan Cox Gurdon, Wall Street Journal
"[The] gods make Game of Thrones look like a pastoral idyll…this book is a delight and a ‘must have.’"—Roger Barnes, Classics for All
"[Gods and Mortals] can almost be read as a novel…if you’re at all interested in the Greek myths and why they are still relevant to us in our modern world, you’ll want one on your bookshelf that you can keep and dip into over and again."—Terry Potter, The Letterpress Project
“This book is a triumph! All of human nature is beautifully and strikingly portrayed in this magnificent retelling of the Greek myths. Readers will find here everything they could possibly want—intrigue, love, lust, revenge, and every sort of behavior, both good and bad. It would be hard to find a better introduction to that vast body of tales or a better written one.”—Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series
“In the venerable tradition of Edith Hamilton, Sarah Iles Johnston retells the classical tales of ancient Greek mythology with verve and a storyteller’s passion. This is a book readers should turn to—and return to often—to appreciate anew these myths in all their grandeur and complexity.”–Adrienne Mayor, author of Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws: And Other Classical Myths, Historical Oddities, and Scientific Curiosities
“Move over, Edith Hamilton! Sarah Iles Johnston has hit the magical refresh button on Greek myths. Presto, the tales sparkle and shine for a new generation of readers. Like the poets, bards, and rhapsodes of ancient times, Johnston reminds us that there is no single, authoritative version of a myth and that stories are kept alive by adding new ingredients to the old, improving their flavor, zest, and aroma.”—Maria Tatar, author of The Heroine with 1001 Faces
“Gods and Mortals is a remarkable achievement, a rare combination of great storytelling and deft scholarship. It reads like a novel, with many nested plots, but it is suffused with deep knowledge of the texts. You can read it front to back as a single story, or you can dip in to check what the ancients really wrote about the Titans or that Trojan horse. Johnston has become our best guide to these myths—to what they are and how their characters come to feel alive to people.”—T. M. Luhrmann, author of How God Becomes Real: Kindling the Presence of Invisible Others
“Gods and Mortals is a brilliantly executed narration of ancient Greek myth. Johnston outdoes her predecessors, like Bulfinch, Hamilton, and Graves, in the unadorned clarity of her presentation. The book is masterful and promises to help steer a widening interest in this precious body of terrifically good stories.”—Peter Struck, author of Divination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity