Die schönsten Sagen des klassischen Altertums

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  • Paperback
  • 200 pages
  • Die schönsten Sagen des klassischen Altertums
  • Gustav Schwab
  • German
  • 12 December 2019
  • 9783442005000

10 thoughts on “Die schönsten Sagen des klassischen Altertums

  1. says:

    This is the third in a series of six reviews focusing on books about Greek mythology. The books included in this comparative evaluation are:

    Bulfinch's Mythology (Modern Library Paperback Edition, 2004)
    Mythology by Edith Hamilton (originally published in 1942; Back Bay Books edition of 1998)
    The Greek Myths by Robert Graves (Penguin Books combined edition, 1992)
    Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece by Gustav Schwab (Pantheon Books, copyright 1946)
    Don't Know Much About Mythology by Kenneth C. Davis (Harper Collins, 2005)
    Myths of the Ancient Greeks by Richard P. Martin (New American Library, 2003)

    As Goodreads is not really set up to handle comparative reviews smoothly, the discussion is split across the six book reviews. I've tried to evaluate each book on its own particular merits, and also give some idea of how it stacks up relative to the others. I based the comparative evaluation on three main general criteria - readability, accuracy, and scope (breadth and depth of coverage); I also looked at how each book handled two particular examples -- the life of Hercules and the story of Philomela and Procne. More details about the comparison can be found in the introduction to the first review:

    Bulfinch evaluation

    Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece is a translation of Gustav Schwab's Sagen des Klassischen Altertums, a book that has been the canonical source for Greek legends for several generations of Germans. I have a previous history with Schwab's original version in German: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... but my comments in this review are based on the excellent 1946 translation by Olga Marx and Ernst Morwitz.

    Gustav Schwab's original version was first published in Stuttgart in 1837, so it predates Bulfinch by a couple of decades, Edith Hamilton by roughly a century. It's remarkably good -- Schwab's goal was to write a book which could serve as a reference on Greek mythology at a level that would make them accessible to the "common reader". He accomplished his goal - the book was an immediate success in Germany, and Germans still regard it as a canonical reference, almost two centuries later.

    The style of Schwab's text is clear, authoritative, and straightforward (mercifully, Schwab avoids the kind of syntactical brambles so beloved of many of his contemporaries). The translation preserves all the virtues of the original and actually forces me to break out the word 'awesome', because I think it represents an improvement in many places. It almost achieves King James status, by which I mean that the language often seems so right as to be inevitable, and anything else doesn't sound as authoritative (in the same way that all other translations of the Bible sound "wrong" after you've read the King James version).

    Although it runs to 750 pages and the illustrations are nothing to write home about, it's a clear, useful, beautifully comprehensive reference. Not my first choice among the six on the list, but it's very good nonetheless. Schwab's particular genius was an ability to synthesize material from different sources brilliantly, frequently enriching a story whose main outlines he takes from one primary source with episodes taken from other sources. He does this so seamlessly that it feels like you're reading the canonical version.

    With respect to the two 'test stories' that I sued for the comparative evaluation of all six books on the list, Schwab's treatment of the life and adventures of Hercules is exemplary. It was a minor disappointment to find no mention of the story of Philomela and Procne.

    Relative to the other books on the list, Schwab devotes more space to The Trojan War and its aftermath (rougly 400 of 700 or so pages). Note that he is not giving a direct translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey - it's more like an intelligent, well-written precis. If you already know the originals pretty well, then the last half of Gods and Heroes may not be all that interesting for you.

    This is a fine book.

  2. says:

    I loved Gustav Schwab's Die schönsten Sagen des klassischen Altertums, his exquisite and extensive compilation of Greek mythology tales in German translation as a child (when my father read them aloud to my brother, my sister and me), and still greatly enjoy them today (having recently downloaded and reread them on my Kindle). Perhaps a bit dated in feel and scope, and definitely presenting a writing style that is indeed a bit convoluted and rather old-fashioned, Gustav Schwab still manages to continuously hold and retain my interest and has actually much rekindled my interest in Greek (and to a point Roman) mythology and my wish to learn ancient Greek so that I can, perhaps, sometime in the future manage to read Hesiod's Theogony in the original (although I really do now wonder and question whether my father might have indeed simplified some of the stories a bit when he was reading them aloud to us, as I do not recall the individual tales being all that complicated). Definitely much recommended, although for reading in the original, fluency in German (and familiarity with advanced grammar structures like the passive and the subjunctive) is an absolute must (there are though, numerous decent and readable translations of this collection in English, with Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece being the most popular and readily available).

  3. says:

    My very first book, the one that changed my life. This is the reason way i studyied ancient Greek and Latin for 4 years.
    You know how you often get asked a silly question like ''If you had one book to take on a deserted island'', well, i'd choose this one. I don't even travel without it- it's my childhoof blanket, my teddy bear.
    And one day, if i have children, they will too fall asleep listening to the stories from Olimpus, and about Trojan war.

  4. says:

    Pantheon has always done a wonderful job of publishing comprehensive and engaging volumes with their series of folklore works and Schwab's work carries on the tradition perfectly.

    There's not much I really can say considering the stories represented here are age-old and known throughout countless generations. Rather I'll praise the thorough job done in compiling all the stories. There's no need to jump from book to book anymore when studying the different tales or history making it wonderful for a reference as well as entertainment. The language it's presented in isn't stuffy like so many anthologies of mythology tend to be making a classic subject very approachable.

  5. says:

    i really enjoyed this, idk i felt that the writing kept me interested and ive learnt a lot about greek mythology and heroes.

    It has taken me a while to get through this and there are... a lot of stories, i didn't read them all but a good portion, and i've taken it day by day but i loved it.

  6. says:

    I read it as kid, 11 years, old, i can remember how i was devouring it with big enthusiasm. While my classmates chosed to talk about theire hobbies as presentation in front of the class, i talked about the
    "Ten heroic deeds of Heracless". Was big fun for me.

  7. says:

    If you enjoy Greek Mythology this is definitely the book for you. Now I will have to admit, I did not read this book completely in one month, but that is what I loved about it. You can pick up this book and always find a new adventure to read. By the time you read them all you will be excited just to start all over again. "Gods and Heroes" consists of many collected stories of the great legends of Greek Mythology. Each story is an escape from reality. Whether you are on a long voyage home from the fall of Troy, or becoming King of the Gods you are always captivated with these ancient adventures. Prior to reading this book I would say that I had a pretty decent amount of background knowledge pertaining to Greek Mythology. After completing this book I realized that there were so many stories that I was not aware about. For example, the story of Europa. Europa was a Phoenician princess and was fancied by Zeus. He fancied her so much that he appeared to her as a beautiful white bull. Europa got on to Zeus (the bull) and he whisked her away to the island of Create. What went on with Zeus and Europa? You will have to read the story to find out. I will tell you that the continent of Europe was named after her. Stories such as this are interesting and intense. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed adventure and mythology. I like this book because of the action combined with the historical settings. I also enjoyed this book because you can take your time to enjoy the individual stories. I did not like that the stories are not clearly divided into chapters it made it difficult to find individual stories.

  8. says:

    Great book!! It has 3 sections: miscellaneus gods and heroes stories, the Troy War and Odysseus. I would have put 5 stars to this book but the war theme in part 2 just wasn't for me. The author captures the stories in a very easy and enjoyable way to read.

  9. says:

    These stories are interesting as fuck.

  10. says:

    To start off, this book is a nice long, historic read. Standing at 743 pages, Gustav Schwab's Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece does an excellent job of telling out the time-old stories of the ancient world. I had a good time reading it, and since this is my first encounter with most of the greek tales, the collection of them is well appreciated. This book is technically Gustav Schwab's work, although it was originally written in German, but the English version is still accredited to him.
    The book goes through a whole slough of tales, from the Odyssey, to the Trojan Wars, and the Argonauts, to name a few, although there are many more. Many stories tend to include the gods, like Zeus and Athene, or humans such as the Ajaxes and, of course, Odysseus. There are many stories, each with it's own conflict, but the story of Agamemnon is quite interesting, as a prince leaves his own kingdom as a small child due to his father, Agamemnon being slaughtered by his traitorous wife and a new king. The story progresses and is eventually resolved in the line being restored.
    The book starts and goes through stories, and even though it is a historic text, it is organized so that one should read it start to finish. Of course, the book saves perhaps the greatest Greek work, the Odyssey for last. The most classic line in the entire story is from the Trojan war, where they enter the horse: "Now, O leaders of the Danai, we shall see who is really strong and fearless. For now we must enter the belly of this horse and go toward the unknown..." The book takes on a lighter heart in telling a historic story more than anything else. A previous read of mine was SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. Although it talks much more about history from our standing today, they still are related in talking about the great wonders of times long long ago.
    Personally, I really do enjoy the book, especially if this is what you are into. The Trojan war is an exceptionally long story, with long backs and forths, but is still an amazing tale. The story of Heracles was also one of my favorite parts of this book, and telling the tale of how Heracles became ancient Greece's greatest champion. Like I said, if you are into ancient history, you will most likely find this book engaging, Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece is the same sort of book, but it tells ancient tales rather than describing the ancient world from today's view.

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