Mythos is undeniably a work of Stephen Fry – like him, It is brimming with charm and wit. The stories themselves are echoes of an age of myth, magic, wonder that many of us grew up with in some form or another: Titans and Gods and Heroes. Though the focus is firmly on the former two. For anyone versed in Greek (and Roman) mythology, there will not be any new insights to be had. For everyone else, however, especially those who have only glimpsed into these worlds, it will stoke the fire of your inner classicist.
Fry’s retells these stories with a daring transparency – choosing to include the violent and erotic episodes which are central to many tales. I never realised how spiteful, greedy, and unfaithful the gods were – how human they could be. In the Greek-inspired stories I have heard since, never has such a bright light been shone on the un-godlike traits the Gods possess. It is as Fry mentions, if you lived during in this world, you should stay away from the Gods: don’t compare yourself with them, compete with them, or doing anything that might be misconstrued as a slight against their domains. For the smallest of perceptible indiscretions, as Fry reminds us time and time again through several unrelated tales, the Gods will often deal out punishments worse than death. While I would not want to have been a human in this age, the extremes at which the pantheon of major gods mete out “justice” is often comical and entertaining for a reader.
Hestia is the first-born of the Olympians and the Goddess of the Hearth, and inspiration for Fry’s writing style. In interviews, he mentions that he wanted to write with an informality reminiscent of familial conversations around the hearth. I felt like I was reading a bedtime story for adults, I enjoyed it immensely. To be honest, I could imagine put this audiobook version of this in the background instead of listening to music or a podcast while making dinner or as I am preparing to go to bed.
Mythos offers the reader a distinctly modern and unique retelling of a selection of essential Greek Myths. Unlike other representations I have come across, Fry is faithful to the violent and erotic episodes which form a large part of these stories. This daring transparency paired with Hestia-inspired writing style makes for a hellishly entertaining read.