The Gods of Olympus: A History (Ebook)

Barbara Graziosi

The afterlife of the classical gods: how they travelled the world, shaped our history and culture, and turned up in the strangest places, from Chinese cave temples to Borges' dreams. Now in paperback.

Elegant and entertaining, this is the history of the most vibrant characters in classical civilisation. With their vast appetites, great beauty and warlike tendencies, it's hard to resist their pull on the imagination, even though, in antiquity, the gods of Olympus were just as often seen as cruel, over-sexed, mad or just plain silly. And yet they were survivors, whose story only began with classical civilisation.

Masters of re-invention (though never too hard to identify), they began to resemble pharaohs in Egypt and lead respectable Roman citizens in orgiastic rituals of drink and sex. Under Christianity and Islam they went undercover as demons, allegories, and planets, waiting for a triumphant re-emergence in a Renaissance vision of ancient beauty. They travelled east along the Silk Route to the walls of cave-temples in China, and west, colonising the Americas. They featured on Wedgwood teapots, attacked the poet Hölderlin, haunted Nietzsche, and visited Borges in restless dreams. Barbara Graziosi deftly traces the travels and transformations of these pagan deities from the distant past to the present, showing that the gods of Olympus remain potent symbols that help us to feel part of a broad and fascinating humanity.

Publication date: 07/11/2013


ISBN: 9781847654281

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B00FQ07B2Y

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics

Reviews for The Gods of Olympus: A History

'Deploying an intriguing combination of old-fashioned and inventive approaches to the classical world and its reception, Barbara Graziosi here breaks new ground in the interpretation of the major Greek gods'

Susan Deacy Times Higher Education

'Graziosi crosses the centuries elegantly, using the gods constant presence to suggest that history is an ongoing continuum'

 Publishers Weekly

'A delightfully entertaining study... In an impressive feat of research and synthesis, Barbara Graziosi has made the Greek gods vivid, accessible, and relevant for all of us. Graziosi's affection for her subject is exciting and infectious, and her beautifully seamless writing style, keen intelligence, and lovely sense of humor kept me eagerly reading. An excellent history'

Rosemary Mahoney, author of Down the Nile and For the Benefit of Those Who See 

'Humankind is at its most creative-and most revealing-in its desire for the divine, and its imagining of gods. Barbara Graziosi's absorbing history of the twelve Olympians follows their extraordinary journeys through the world and inside the human mind, where they have subtly coexisted with other gods, and continue to outlive us all'

Patricia Storace, author of Dinner with Persephone 

Barbara Graziosi

Barbara Graziosi

Barbara Graziosi is Professor of Classics at Durham and Director, for the Arts and Humanities, of the Institute of Advanced Study. She has published widely on classical literature and its reception, and regularly contributes to radio and TV programmes on the arts.