on 14 April 2012
Bullfinch contains the most complete collection of classical myths, with information on the even most obscure mythological characters, ever assembled. He created this book by writing translations, or where necessary accurate abridgements, of each myth from the original Latin or Greek author who gave the fullest version of the story. In some stories, where different ancient authors give contradictory versions, he recounts alternate versions at the end of the story.
I studied Classics at Cambridge University and I have read most of the myths in this book in their original Latin or Greek. His translations are truly wonderful; in his day people believed in writing close translations rather than free ones (a principle with which I strongly agree), yet he still manages to produce an English prose which is both beautiful and natural sounding.
His insistence on sticking to the original sources for these stories, rather than a creative re-telling, means that he avoids the usual pitfall of padding the stories out with details or concepts which belong to our culture, not the ancient Roman or Greek cultures.
The stories could be read by a child (I would estimate aged about 9 or 10) yet the scholarly approach makes this book equally ideal for a serious student of literatue or ancient cultures who wants to learn about the subject more deeply.