Stephen Fry delves into the myths and legends of Greece that have prove as relevant as ever

By Jonathan Reed

30 September 2019


For thousands of years, the tales of ancient Greece have inspired, entranced, thrilled and enthralled humanity. From the Gods sitting atop the soaring heights of Mount Olympus, to the horror inducing monsters which have been formed to battle heroes young and old, the myths and legends of ancient Greece continue to fascinate.

© Getty Images

Stephen Fry’s dive into the world of Gods, monsters and all things mythical Greece accumulates with Mythos, an anthology of stories that perfectly showcase the wonderous imaginations of ancient Greeks.

Fry retells these timeless tales with a detailed rhythm that fully pulls you in. Starting from ‘The Beginning’ with the formation of the Titans, Mythos is an entertaining, touching and humorous look at the wonderous world of Olympus. He expertly retraces these, otherwise complex stories with a simplicity that still manages to capture the uniqueness of ancient Greece.

But the stories aren’t the only winning formula Mythos utilises. Stephen Fry amalgamates erudition with creative finesse adding a dazzle of modern contemporary commentary. You are instantly pulled in, as the ‘rebirth’ of Zeus and the other Gods/Goddesses of Olympus is retold.

There are points where these legends enter realms of complete absurdity, yet Fry manages to lovingly mock these tones with a warm humour. Against the illogicality of some of the stories featured, there are others which movingly demonstrate the constraints, complexity and flaws of humanity. Whether it be jealously, anger, pain, grief, love, lust or betrayal, these themes are never overlooked or outsourced in place of the magic.

What is instantly apparent is the deep-seated love Stephen Fry nurtures for Greek mythology. His enthusiasm is utterly infectious and is evident throughout every page of Mythos. Through his palpable addiction to the mythology, Fry creates an atmosphere of sitting around a campfire as an elderly storyteller reiterates the tales of old. It is homely, warm and truly entertaining.

© Getty Images

The greatest triumph of Mythos is taking stories and characters who are much more known in pop-culture and make them feel new. The terrifying story of Pandora’s box or the love affair between Eros and Psyche are known throughout history and have been told in every way possible. Fry manages to make these tales feel fresh and new.

Mythos is a wonderful read which ignites the imagination and makes these tales feel deeply relevant. Profoundly, a melody which runs through every page is the humanity of these ancient and mythical characters. Fry poignantly manages to make them feel familiar and fully formed.

By injecting humour throughout, these once inaccessible stories, which felt from another age suddenly feel real and prevalent to the world today. He dissects the world of ancient Greece and how their imaginations and storytelling have helped shape and define our modern society. Mythos is a stunning read, one which is a welcome addition to any bookshelf. It is arguably one of Stephen Fry’s most defining novels and brings the world of Gods and monster to the real world, leaving you feeling on top of Mount Olympus itself.