Greek Mythology has blessed the world of literature with complex characters, riveting stories, and a gripping way to explore history. In recent years there has been a surge of retellings and new perspectives in the genre, shedding light on emotional warfare, internal struggles, and unfolding backstories.
Whether you’re an avid fan or just dipping your toe in, I’m sure you’ll find a book below that suits you. Please be aware that most of these books contain triggering content including death, violence, sexual abuse, and war.
The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault
If you’ve ever dreamed of ancient Greece, craved to witness the changes in culture, politics, and philosophy, or be mentored by a philosopher, The Last of the Wine may be for you.
This novel follows the life of Alexias and Lysis, two Athenian’s living amongst the ever developing minds and cities of Greece. Some ventures that unfold include competing in the palaestra, a school for sports like wrestling, attending the Olympics, battling with Spartans, and studying under the historic Socrates.
Renault captivates her reader not only with rich surroundings, but with the intimate relationship that blooms between Alexias and Lysis. This relationship captures a deep connection built on respect, trust and love, giving the reader a closer look into male homosexuality in ancient Greece.
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
Throughout history, the female perspective has been silenced. Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls brings light to not only the female main character’s story, but the thousands of women behind the scenes of ancient war.
This book follows the former queen of a neighboring kingdom of Troy, Briseis, as she lives as a concubine for Achilles. She finds herself an object of desire for both leaders of the Greek forces, Achilles and Agamemnon. We see the brutal adjustment she has to make in order to survive her new life, one where she must observe the fate of her people at the hands of war hungry political leaders.
Barker is sure to include the women who are nurses, slaves, and even prostitutes as she unfolds the fate of Briseis, her people, and the ancient world.
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
What would it be like to step down from a pedestal of power and walk into an angry mob waiting for the chance to take your life and steal your position? You can find the answer in Alexandra Bracken’s Lore.
This story follows the goddess Lore Perseous in her return to a hunt that allows ancient bloodlines to take up arms in the chance of defeating nine Greek gods and taking their glory for seven days every seven years.
Lore had escaped this hunt, known as the Agon, when her family was murdered, but as the next hunt approaches New York City, an old friend and a struggling Athena ask Lore for help in escaping the Agon forever.
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
If a classic epic focused on women instead of men in ancient Greece interests you, then A Thousand Ships might be your book.
Awoken by flames, a woman finds herself amidst the fall of Troy after a decade long war with the Greeks. This book retells the story of the Trojan war from the perspective of the women, including the defeated Trojan women, the Amazon princess, Odysseus’s wife Penelope, and the goddesses who began the conflict.
Hayne’s creation of a female epic that occurred alongside the men of ancient Greece gives the reader a chance to live through the eyes of a woman during ancient battle and rekindles the lives of many powerful women who have often been forgotten.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Born to the god of the sun Helios and the nymph Perse, Circe seems to be a weed amongst the most elaborate bouquets. She finds comfort in the human world, where she realizes her power of shapeshifting witchcraft, strong enough to threaten the gods and be banished to a deserted island.
The story follows Circe as she learns her craft and adjusts to her new life, a life much different than the assumed isolated one she thought she had. A life where she meets characters such as the Minotaur, Daedalus, Icarus, Medea, and Odysseus.
Eventually Circe finds herself threatened and is forced to fight against a powerful Olympian. Will she fight for her rightful place amongst the gods or will she defend the humans that gave her a home?
Greek mythology has a rich history of vivid stories and unforgettable characters and these books are keeping the stories alive while introducing an intimate look at the lives of everyday ancient Greeks and those behind the scenes of historical events.
I hope you found a book that interests you and opens your eyes to the lush genre that is Greek mythology. Stay curious and happy reading!