Greek mythology

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

"Now we see in a glass dimly, but then face to face."

Long before C.S. Lewis created the land of Narnia and wrote his many books exploring Christian faith, he was fascinated with Greek mythology. Till We Have Faces is Lewis’ reworked story of the Cupid and Psyche myth, which has come down to us in modern times as Beauty and the Beast. It was a story he began as an undergraduate and was to become his favorite work when he completed it years later.

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

Lavinia of the blushing smiles and flaming hair merited only a few lines in the last books of Virgil’s Aeneid. That Lavinia was simply another lovely and dutiful princess to be married to the hero in accordance with the gods’ wishes. But Lavinia’s character is imagined and fully fleshed out by Hugo-winning writer Ursula K. Le Guin, transformed into a woman of strength and nobility in Lavinia.

The original heroic poem, written in the tradition of Homer’s famous works, traced the journey of Aeneas, a surviving prince from the fall of Troy, to his ultimate destiny as Rome’s progenitor as husband to Lavinia, princess of Latium. Son of Venus and therefore a target of her rival Juno’s spite, the gods themselves conspired in the affairs of these hapless mortals. It was by Venus’ intervention that the African queen Dido loved Aeneas and spared his life. Likewise, it was a messenger from Jupiter that convinced him to leave her for his greater destiny as a founder of Rome. The gods directed every important decision made by mortals. 
 
The battle death of Aeneas’ first wife and abandoned Dido’s suicide are just the sort of collateral damage that happens when the gods insert themselves directly into heroes’ lives—nothing to be taken personally because, after all, the gods’ purpose is to found the Roman Empire, and Aeneas is their agent. What’s a dead wife or royal lover when the divine legitimacy of the Empire is in the balance?

The Lightning Thief

By Rick Riordan

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Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson learns he is a demigod, the son of a mortal woman and Poseidon, god of the sea. His mother sends him to a summer camp for demigods where he and his new friends set out on a quest to prevent a war between the gods.

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Percy Jackson is not a normal 12-year-old. Strange things always seem to happen around him, and he has a problem with getting into situations that lead to getting kicked out of school. Things get even stranger when, on a class field trip, Percy vaporizes his (really creepy) math teacher (a monster in disguise) and learns that he himself is a demigod. A whole new world is opened to Percy when he goes for the summer to Camp Half-Blood, where he meets other demigod friends and finds out his father's identity. Of course, he immediately gets plunged into a quest to save the world.

The Hero and the Minotaur: the Fantastic Adventures of Theseus

By Robert Byrd

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The Greek myth of Prince Theseus and the trials that befall him when he vows to become a hero.

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The Shadow Thieves

By Anne Ursu

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After her cousin Zee arrives from England, thirteen-year-old Charlotte and he must set out to save humankind from denizens of the underworld, Nightmares, Death, Pain, and a really nasty guy named Phil. 

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The Night Tourist

By Katherine Marsh

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After fourteen-year-old classics prodigy Jack Perdu has a near fatal accident he meets Euri, a young ghost who introduces him to New York's Underworld, where those who died in New York reside until they are ready to move on, and Jack vows to find his dead mother there.
 

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Meddling Gods and Evil Faeries

Quiver by Stephanie Spinner

It was a tremendous feeling, to chase after the legendary boar of Calydon. Though surrounded by Jason and his brawny Argonauts, fleet-footed Atalanta sought glory in the hunt, not romantic entanglements. She'd been pledged to Artemis, the virgin huntress, ever since she was found, a nursling of a wild she-bear, by hunters who raised her as their own. Sport was all to her. Quick with her bow and blessed with superhuman swiftness, yet she was not blind to the yearning in Prince Meleager's eyes, so soon interrupted....

Rosemary Sutcliff: “One of the Minstrelsy”

“And then suddenly the wolf was there. With a crashing of twigs and small branches it sprang into the open, then, seeing the hunters all about it, checked almost in mid spring, swinging its head from side to side, with laid-back ears and wrinkled muzzle: a great, brindled dog wolf, menace in every raised hackle.”
(From Warrior Scarlet)

Rosemary Sutcliff’s splendid stories take place in Britain’s distant past. Shining Roman spears. Cloth woven red for warrior valor. A broken bit of barley cake on a hearth whose ashes grow cold. The last signal fire against the darkness of a massing enemy.