Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Wisdom of the Myths: How Greek Mythology Can Change your Life, by Luc Ferry. Harper Perennial, 2014

Author Luc Ferry is an award winning scholar and former French minister of national education. He knows his mythology, and goes back to the oldest sources he can find for his reading; in many cases, sources more than 2000 years old. He’s very thorough, and roots out the basic meaning of the oldest Greek myths: the creation, King Midas, the Odyssey, Oedipus and others. A lot of it all boils down to the opposing forces of chaos and order; order (as personified by Zeus et al) must continually beat chaos (as personified by the pre-Olympian gods, Gaia (earth) and Chronos who is time itself). Everyone and everything has a place in the universe, and those who try to go against this natural place have hubris, and will end up punished by the universe. No one can defeat death. Accept this, and get on with living the best life you can- in other words, be an expression of order.

Even people who have never read the Greek myths know something about them; references to them abound in our vernacular (Oedipus complex, Midas touch, Pandora’s box, Achilles heel etc) so it pays to know where these references come from. The book is interesting; the author treats the myths, as philosophy, with respect rather than as childish tales. He shows how many of these myths connect with each other, and tells us why the things that happen to people happen. Sadly, making the connections means some repetition, but it’s not huge problem.

Did reading this book allow me to change my life? No. I’m not even sure how understanding the myths can change my life; perhaps that means I still don’t understand them. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something, Amazon will give me a few cents. This in no way affected my review. 

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