Warfare played a major role in Greek mythology, beginning with the series of wars that saw Zeus establish himself as the chief of the gods, facing off against the Titans, the Giants and many other rivals.
In general these myths fall into two catagories. The first involve clashes between entirely mythological creatures – titans, giants, gods, centaurs etc. The second covers those myths in which humans played a central role but manipulated or supported by the Gods – most famously the Trojan Wars, but also a cycle of Theban myths including the stories of Oedipus and the Seven against Thebes.
The first two chapters give us an introduction to the topic, looking at our sources for Greek mythology, how they changed over time, how the Romans interpreted Greek myths etc. This is followed by a look at the impressively varied array of Greek war gods, which range from generalists such as Ares to very specialist gods such as Alala, the goddess of the warcry!
We them move onto the actual myths. Once again the complexity of Greek mythology is acknowledged. Instead of producing a single ‘official’ version of the myth, the author looks at the basic outline of the story, and then the many and varied versions that appeared over the years. Sometimes the differences were fairly minor, but there were often fairly major differences, with many characters have multiple parents and multiple deaths.
The author takes an interesting approach to the Trojan War, covering it as a series of mini-biographies of the main characters. This works rather well – the basic story is after all very familiar, and this allows information taken from other sources to be merged with that from Homer.
This is an excellent study of the more military of the Greek myths, telling the stories while also acknowledging the many different versions of so many of them, and also the varying attitudes of the ancient Greeks to these stories.
1 – Introduction: Exploding Myth
2 – The Gods of War
3 – Titanomachy: War of the Titans – Who Shall Rule the World?
4 – Gigantomachy: War of the giants – Another Battle for the Cosmos
5 – The Typhonomachy: Zeus Wins the Day, and Every Day Thereafter
6 – Centauromachy: The Wedding Guests From Hell
7 – Amazonomachy Amazons: Those who fight like men
8 – The Theban Wars: Complex Oedipus, the Seven Against Thebes and the Epigoni War
9 – Heracles: Not labouring but battling
10 – The Trojan War: The Battle for Helen and the Great Sulk
11 – Hell for the Heroes: Coming home, Domestic Crises, Murder, Incest and Infanticides
12 – Batrachomyomachia: of Mice and Frogs
13 – Epilogue: Perpetuating Greek Myth in the Modern World
Author: Paul Chrystal
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military