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Illustrated Age of Fable [Hardcover]

Thomas Bulfinch

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Book Description

21 Sep 1998
Reproductions of paintings by master artists complement retellings of Greek and Roman myths.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang Inc (21 Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556708254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556708251
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16.5 x 6.4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,671,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Bulfinch retells the classical myths for the masses 1 Oct 2005
By Lawrance M. Bernabo - Published on Amazon.com
"The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
The fair humanities of old religion,
The Power, the Beauty, and the Majesty
That had their haunts in dale or piny mountain,
Or forest, by slow stream, or pebbly spring,
Or chasms and watery depths; all these have vanished;
They live no longer in the faith of reason;
But still the heart doth need a language; still
Doth the old instinct bring back the old names;
Spirits or gods that used to share this earth
With man as with their friend; and at this day
'Tis Jupiter who brings whate'er is great,
And Venus who brings every thing that's fair."

At the end of his Author's Preface for "Bulfinch's Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable," Thomas Bulfinch (1796-1867) quotes from Coleridge's "The Piccolomini" to represent the connection between mythology and literature. An accountant at the Boston Merchants' Bank, Bulfinch had been educated at Harvard and was a teacher early in his career. Seeing a need for something more than a formal translation of the myths and legends of antiquity, Bulfinch decided to popularize classical literature for all of us who did not know how to read Ancient Greek and Latin. Throughout his business career he collected hundreds of myths and legends, not only of the pagan era of Greek and Roman gods, but also Oriental deities, and Norse sagas. "The Age of Fable" was first published in 1855, and created the identification of the name of Bulfinch with that of mythology for the general population. For the last half of the 19th-century and the first part of the 20th, the volume was as much an American classic as "The Last of the Mohicans," "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "Uncle Remus," "Tom Sawyer," and "Huckleberry Finn."

When Bulfinch told these ancient tales the archeological study of Greece had not really begun (Troy was still considered a mythical location) and historians had yet to formulate any acceptable explanations for how these myths originated. Bulfinch was interested in telling these stories simply and for their own sakes, without being caught up in the Dead Language issues of the poems he excerpts (except to the extent that he uses the Latin versions of the names of the gods and goddesses rather than the Greek). Nor was he interested in drawing moral lessons from these stories, because Bulfinch's goal was to make the classical references found in the educated poets of his day accessible to the common folk.

The opening chapters deal mostly with the gods and goddesses, starting with the tales of Prometheus and Pandora, and ending with the "Monsters" such as the Sphinx and Pegasus. The next section is devoted to the great heroes, from Jason and Atalanta, to Hercules and Theseus, and then the lesser heroes such as Orpheus and orion. We then get to the epic poems of antiquity with chapters on the Trojan war, the adventures of Ulysses, and the adventures of Aeneas. The final section of "The Age of Fable" covers a lot of ground, including Egyptian deities, the Oracles, Poets of Mythology, Eastern Mythology, Hindu Mythology, and Norse Mythology, including Beowulf. I was weaned on Edith Hamilton's "Mythology," but I still appreciate Bulfinch's approach in telling pretty much the same stories in a more straightforward manner. More importantly, these stories have really become literature in their own right, and can be read for that enjoyment rather than for scholarly knowledge. This edition has the additional virtue of being illustrated by some of the world's greatest paintings, which is perfect because mythology has been the subject of so many great works of art from "The Birth of Venus" on down the list.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected 1 July 2011
By Thomas Norfleet - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought a hardback Bullfinch's mythology in high school, which was much thicker than the illustrated copy I received. I thought the illustrated copy would be just as much written information, but Thomas Bullfinch is such a great writer, and the paintings in the book are such classics that I am pleased with this version as well. Bullfinch's version of mythology has been published for many decades, so each edition is likely to be different from the previous one.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful 11 May 2014
By allen scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful book. Worth the price if only for the paintings. I haven't read any of the book yet. I have Bulfinch in another volume with out illustrations. I will certainly enjoy the art work in this one.
5.0 out of 5 stars Bulfinch would be proud 10 Dec 2013
By quiche1002 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a gorgeous book. While the mythology always carries its own weight the value of this book is magnified by the wonderful artwork and illustrations
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Required by my son's high school 29 Jun 2013
By J. Stevens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Yucky book. The reproduction paintings are beautiful but in the forward it clearly states this was written around the turn of the last century to make people familiar with the myths so they could circulate in polite society. So these are not a re-telling, this is ABOUT the myths........a terrible way to introduce them to students. Better to read some Rick Riordan!! Also there is no distinction made between Greek and Roman myths....considered a faux pas in this household. For the younger grades get D'Auliers, for older, Edith Hamilton. Two stars for the pretty pictures.....zero for text.
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