“If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which helps to enlarge or possessions or to raise our station in society, then mythology has no claim to the appellation.”

Read the preface of Bulfinch’s Mythology (which we did in class) and the introduction to Edith Hamilton’s Mythology (pp. 13-21).

Then discuss:  Compare and contrast the reasons that Bulfinch and Hamilton give us about the need to study mythology.  Do you agree or disagree?  Why or why not?

As always, be sure to include many specific details from each text to support your opinions and follow all the rules of standard written English.   In addition, remember to respond to at least one other comment in this thread.

Mythology blog #3

42 thoughts on ““If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which helps to enlarge or possessions or to raise our station in society, then mythology has no claim to the appellation.”

  1. In the introduction to both these novels we learn reasons why they think we need to study mythology. In Bulfinch’s Mythology by Edmund Fuller he says “If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which helps to enlarge or possessions or to raise our station in society, then mythology has no claim to the appellation.(pg.11)” He is saying that Mythology won’t give you knowledge that will make you higher in society. Then he says “For mythology is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.(Pg. 11)” Now he is saying how mythology may not help you become rich but it will make you happy. Then he says “Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated.(Pg.11)” He is saying we should know mythology because it will help us understand literature we read. In Mythology by Edith Hamilton he says “Greek and Roman mythology…we can retrace the path from civilized man who lives so far from nature, to man who lived in close companionship with nature…(Pg.13)” He is saying we learn about mythology because it shows us what it was like to live with the nature. Fuller says we learn mythology because it will make us happy and will help us understand literature. Hamilton is saying it will help us look back on a time when man was involved in nature. Both say how mythology is important to read about.

  2. While both Mythology by Edith Hamilton and Bulfinch’s Mythology have an Introduction, they both are very different from one another. Bulfinch’s Mythology, as we discussed today in class, has an Introduction concerning the effect of Mythology on literature and the person reading it. In his Introduction, we can see that he believes that Mythology is not only important to literature, but is important to the reader as well. He states “Mythology is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.” (page 11). He tells us that not only is it helpful to literature, as many themes/morals are derived from myths, but also it is helpful to the reader. This is because the reader may learn many of these morals, which will make them overall a better person. He then goes on to say that this compilation of myths is meant to be read in the easiest way possible. He wants it to be for the average reader, and does not want it to be lengthy or boring in parts. Meanwhile, Edith Hamilton opens her novel much differently. She begins by talking about the lives of other ancient people, besides the Romans, Greeks, etc. and discusses how they were often savage, cruel and primitive. Hamilton then brings up the Greeks, who had remarkably passed that point of being more civilized. She compares the gods of the Greeks to that of other early peoples. Hamilton states, “The Greeks made their gods in their own image. That had not entered the mind of man before. Until then gods had no semblance of reality. They were unlike all living things.” (page 16). She then goes on to compare much of the aspects of the gods and myths to the Greek people. It is revealed to us that the two are alike, as gods often act like humans and have weaknesses and are often unpredictable. We then see her observe that the Greeks have a much more rational belief in that they don’t have as much magical elements as other cultures. While Hamilton focuses more on the cultural impact of the myths, Bulfinch focuses on the impact they have on literature, and to the reader. Thus, there is a big difference in the way Edith Hamilton introduces her novel versus the way Thomas Bulfinch does.

    • Great blog! You made the difference very clear between the two introductions, and your quotes supported your claims very well. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  3. In both the preface of Bulfinch’s Mythology and Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, the authors endeavor to motivate us to read mythology, and give us reasons why it’s so important. In the latter, Edith Hamilton believes that mythology is supposed to display how humans thought and felt so long ago. And that, using mythology, we’re able to track the timeline from us to those in the past, when “man lived in close companionship with nature.” “Greek and Roman mythology is quite generally supposed to show us the way the human race thought and felt untold ages ago.” On the other hand, in Bulfinch’s Mythology, Bulfinch believes that mythology is important to understanding the more elegant sides of literature. And that without it, much of the morals and happiness that results from literature is lost. So, by extension, mythology helps us become happier and better people. “But if that which tends to make us happier and better can be called useful then we claim that epithet for our subject. For mythology is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.” I agree with Edith Hamilton, but not so much with Bulfinch. I do think that mythology helps us to understand the ancestors of the human race, and how they understood and felt about things. However, I don’t necessarily agree that literature is a “promoter of happiness.” Sure, it can be a source of entertainment, but I wouldn’t take it so far as to say it makes people happy, at least not for me. In addition, I don’t think that literature is really an ally of virtue. It may sometimes change our perspective and selves a bit, but again, I wouldn’t take it so far as to say it makes people better.

  4. Both books start off their introduction by talking about the reason that people should read and learn about Mythology. In Bulfinch’s book, his first sentence states that if useful knowledge is only knowledge that helps a person to become richer or claim a higher place in society, than Mythology is useless. But, he then says that if useful knowledge also includes knowledge that makes someone a happier and better person, than Mythology is very useful. Bulfinch is basically saying that studying and reading about Mythology will make an individual a better person and someone who is happier, and therefore any person should delve into the studies of Mythology. Later on, he goes on to provide his purpose for writing the book. He states that they aimed to make Mythology a pastime for his readers, but to also allow them to learn at the same time. He is trying to make studying Mythology fun. Hamilton thinks that Mythology is important to learn as well, but for a completely different reason. Hamilton says that reading Mythology is a good way to see the ways that the people of the past thought and felt. She also says that we can use Mythology to connect with the people of the past. We can connect the people of today, who are disconnected from nature, to the ancient people, who were deeply connected with nature. Finally, Hamilton says that from reading Mythology, we can visualize how the world was back in time, when nature was prominant.

  5. Both Edith Hamilton’s Mythology and Bulfinch’s Mythology have introductions, but they are write a bit different from one another. Firstly, Edith Hamilton’s purpose for writing Mythology is to better understand people in ancient times. She describes how the gods in ancient Greece are unlike most ancient civilizations believed in; the gods had human characteristics. The gods are very much similar to humans, and so, through the gods, we will be able to learn about the people in the society. In a way, the gods represent real people in mythology. The text states, “The Greeks made their gods in their own image. That had not entered the mind of man before. Until then, gods had had no semblance of reality. They were unlike all living things,” (Edith Hamilton “Mythology” page 16). Edith Hamilton specifically describes other civilizations during that time to stress the idea that the gods had human features. All in all, Edith Hamilton’s purpose of writing/teaching mythology is to better understand the people in the ancient times, through the description of the gods.
    Bulfinch takes a different approach. He says that mythology is needed to enjoy other works of literature. “Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated,” (page 11). I definitely agree to his point. Many writers use mythology to add humor and to make their stories interesting; they constantly make references to mythology. Without a good knowledge of mythology, the piece of literature will not be interesting and fun to its fullest potential. In summary, Bulfinch believes that everyone must have a basic understanding of mythology to enjoy many works of literature.

    • Good job Ellie! I really understood the difference between the two by reading your blog. It’s interesting reading the same information from two different perspectives. It’s really refreshing.

  6. The introductions of Hamilton and Bulfinch both bring us into the world of mythology. However, the way the authors decided to write their introduction is very different. Thomas Bulfinch writes his intro stating how mythology is important to literature, life, and the person reading it. According to Bulfinch, mythology makes the person who reads it more intelligent and makes her/him a better person overall. “.. which tends to make us happier and better can be called useful then we claim that epithet for our subject. For mythology is the handmaid of literature, and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness”(pp. 11, Bulfinch’s Mythology). He wrote about how mythology still is in play today, and how it is useful for everyone. He also wrote about how the stories are meant to be told for all ages as entertainment. On the other hand, Hamilton begins his intro with historical facts, and shows how the Greeks were much more civilized than the people before them, and were more complex. According to Hamilton, the people living before them were brutes and savages. Hamilton wrote that mythology shows how the people of past times saw and felt how things were, and that is important. Also, she wrote how the Greek gods were different from previous ones, since they were closely resembled to humans, had human features, and made human mistakes. No other civilization had thought of gods like that before the Greeks. “The Greeks made their gods in their own image. That had never entered the mind of man before. Until then, gods had no semblance of reality”( pp. 16, Mythology). This shows that the Greeks were significant and different from all the others in history. As can be seen, Hamilton and Bulfinch write their intros in different ways, but both show the significance of mythology.

    • Great job! Your analysis of both texts are great, and it really helped getting a generalized idea of both intros. You provided great information in your response!

  7. In the introductions of Bulfinch’s Mythology and Mythology by Edith Hamilton, the importance of mythology is portrayed in different ways. Bulfinch’s Mythology has an introduction that focuses on Mythology being significant to literature, as well as the reader, “Mythology is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.”Bulfinch also goes on to explain that Mythology is the reason that our language makes sense, “Without a knowledge of Mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated., ” and that Mythology opens of the mind with different perspectives and interpretations, “…calls up to the mind of one familiar with our subject, illustrations more vivid and striking than the pencil could furnish but which are lost to the reader ignorant of mythology.” Bulfinch is suggesting that mythology helps people by giving them more knowledge and teaching them important morals, making the readers better people. He even says that mythology should be easy and relaxing, with “the charm of a story-book.” However, Edith Hamilton’s introduction to her novel Mythology is quite different. Edith focuses on the cultural impacts of mythology while introducing ancient people who were very cruel and barbarous. Hamilton brings up Greeks, who were depicted as the polar opposites that were civilized. Next, she compares Greeks to other people, “The Greeks made their gods in their own image. That had not entered the mind of man before. Until then gods had no semblance of reality…” Hamilton is clearly suggesting that Greek gods were seen as realistic, and are somewhat comparable to a human, unlike other super powerful and magical gods of other cultures. Overall, there are some similarities and differences in the introductions of Bulfinch’s Mythology and Hamilton’s Mythology.

  8. In both Hamilton and Bulfinch’s Mythology, there is an introduction at the beginning of the book, but the two introductions are very different. In Bulfinch’s Mythology, the main reason to teach mythology is for the purpose of understanding and enjoying other works of literature. In his book, he writes, “Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated. When Byron calls Rome “the Niobe of nations,” or says of Venice, “She looks a Sea-Cybele fresh from the ocean,” he calls up to the mind of one familiar with our subject, illustrations more vivid and striking than the pencil could furnish, but which are lost to the reader ignorant of mythology.”(11) His purpose of writing mythology is to inform the readers about facts they did not know so that they could read and understand other pieces of literature. Edith Hamilton, on the other hand, wrote her mythology book so that we could study how people in the ancient times lived. She writes about how we see that the Greeks have evolved and then continues to describe their lifestyle and origins. “Of course the Greeks too had their roots in the primeval slime. Of course they too once lived a savage life, ugly and brutal. But what the myths show is how high they have risen above the ancient filth and fierceness by the time we had any knowledge of them.”(14) Edith has a great fascination with the Greeks and wants to share with us how they came from a savage race to an educated and evolved people. Her purpose of writing is very different from Bulfinch’s, and even though the two books are about the same thing, they have very different approaches to their topics.

  9. The introductions of both these books discuss reasons about why we should read, learn and know mythology. In Bulfinch’s Mythology introduction, he talks about how Mythology is a great assistant to literature which is one of the greatest ways to enrich your life. He explains how Mythology is something that people with intelligence would be better off knowing about being able to reference. This way, they could make connections and understand the images that the people and the stories were trying to portray. In Bulfinch’s introduction to Mythology, he goes to explain more about the people reading mythology, whereas Edith Hamilton talks more about the writing and writers themselves. Hamilton mentions how mythology is great in being able to bring you back to what you once knew and remember the lessons you needed to learn. He talks about the gods that gave those feelings and the writers who brought them to life. He even went as far to say that mythology brings you to “The prospect of traveling back to this delightful state of things is held out by nearly every writer who touches upon classical mythology.” (pg. 13) Here, he is implying that every writer like him, feels this way and although there is no way to be sure, he finds it true. I liked Bulfinch’s introduction better because it had a more appealing way about it in my opinion. How did you guys feel about the introductions?

  10. Both Bulfinch’s Mythology and Hamilton’s Mythology have introductions that explain why they believe why people should read Mythology. In Bulfinch’s Mythology he says, “If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which helps to enlarge or possessions or to raise our station in society, then mythology has no claim to the appellation…For mythology is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness,” (Pg. 11). Here Bulfinch is saying that if the only important knowledge to have is that which will give you money, mythology is unimportant. But, if important knowledge is that which will bring you happiness, Mythology is important. Hamilton says, “… we can retrace the path from civilized man who lives so far from nature, to man who lived in close companionship with nature…” (Pg.13), and “The Greeks made their gods in their own image. That had not entered the mind of man before. Until then, gods had had no semblance of reality. They were unlike all living things,” (Pg. 16). Hamilton is saying that with Mythology we can see how people from the past lived; what their values were and what they believed. The first quote is showing how we can “retrace” or figure out how past civilizations lived. The second quote shows the morals and values of these civilizations. Personally, I agree with Hamilton. Sure, reading Mythology brings some people joy and happiness, but not everyone. Hamilton’s statement applies to everyone- everyone has something that they can learn about the past from literature.

  11. In Bulfinch’s mythology, the prefix begins by explaining that Mythology is not very important to bettering our material possessions but does improve and better our understanding of literature, and increase overall happiness as a whole. “ If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which helps to enlarge our possessions or raise our societal position, then mythology has no claim to the appellation. But if that which tends to make us happier and better can be called useful then we claim that the epithet of the subject. For Mythology is the handmaid of literature: and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness. ”(Pg. 11) I openly disagree with this statement. Not only does Mythology and literature as a whole improve one’s well being, but it too teaches valuable lessons of cunning and skill. It can act as an inspiration for innovation, a catalyst of the mind and thought. Similarly, Hamilton Mythology stands with the belief that the greatest importance of Greek Mythology is to show us the way a more primitive humanity saw the world, “Greek and Roman Mythology is quite generally supposed to show us the way the human thought and felt untold ages ago. …they(Myths) take us back to a time when the world was young and people had a connection with the earth…,”(Pg 13) This contributes to my belief that Mythology is more than entertainment, that it also teaches us about humanity and its nature as a whole.

  12. Both Edith Hamilton and Bulfinch give their own takes on what mythology is and why it is important to study it before they give the full story of the Greek Mythology. Bulfinch Believed it helps understand and appreciate the true elegance of literature. Mythology, in his perspective, has no social status value, and will not help materialistically in any way. He believes that Mythology is meant to entertain and lighten, while providing a great insight to modern literature today. Edith Hamilton”s beliefs are a little different. Edith proposes that Mythology, in it’s great throne people put it on, is, in the end, a story about people. Greek Mythology reflected virtues through gods, persistence through heroes, and hardships through demons. The stories themselves expressed curiosities and fears and hopes people held from day to day. Basically, Mythology was created by humans about humans, and nothing is a better source. I more strongly agree with Hamilton, although I definitely could agree with Bulfinch in some aspects. Mythology laid down the foundations literature, and a vast majority of literature has branched from the core ideas and plot lines introduced in mythology. People have grown to live by the virtues presented in Mythology and are constantly reminded to live so, through the literature that has come since. To truly understand people, one must understand literature, and Mythology is the pinnacle of it.

  13. Because both Edith Hamilton’s Mythology and Bulfinch’s Mythology were both about Mythology, I assumed their prefaces would be similar with the same ideas. The first time reading them, I saw the differences, but they seemed to have a lot in common. After really analyzing these prefaces a second time, I came to the conclusion that the authors had two completely different purposes for writing their novel. Bulfinch explained how literature and mythology go hand in hand to make an impact on the reader. Whether it makes the reader happier, or just a better person, literature is supposed to make an effect on the readers life. Mythology is seen all through modern culture, and Bulfinch believes that it is important for readers to have an understanding of these references. Bulfinch stated, “Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated.” On the other hand, Hamilton was more focused on mythology in relation to what happened long ago rather than mythology in relation to today. She explained how the lives of ancient people were not always beautiful and they had many hardships. For Hamilton, the Greek myths are remarkable in that they show how far the Greeks, an ancient civilization, had advanced beyond a primitive state of savagery and brutality. “With the coming forward of Greece, mankind became the center of the universe, the most important thing in it. This was a revolution in thought. Human beings had counted for little heretofore. In Greece man first realized what mankind was.” I think that both of the author’s opinions are valuable. Together, they explain why greek mythology was important thousands of years ago, and why it is still important today.

  14. Both Bulfinch and Hamilton start of their books with an introduction. In this intro, they both talk about the necessity of Greek Mythology.

    Hamilton speaks about how it impacted Greek culture. She starts off comparing the Greeks to other cultures, where Greek is much more civilized compared to the others. She says that the Greeks made their gods in the form of themselves, they were much more realistic. The Greeks didn’t make a crocodile like crature a god, or take a man and put a jackal head on him and pronounce him almighty. Other than making them look more muscular or taller, the Greeks kept the gods as men, and as they kept the physical appearance they and so kept the mentality. The gods were unpredictable and had faults, just like regular man.

    Then there is Bulfinch, who unlike Hamilton who said that Mythology is important because of the great turning point in man it sparked, but instead says that it will help the reader personally. He says that although Mythology will not help you succeed in social and economic life, he does say that it will help you succeed mebtally. Bulfinch tells us in his introduction that Mythology is important to the human mind. He says that so mugh literature references Greek Mythology, that if you don’t understand at least some of it, that you can never truly enjoy that literature as much as you were intended. Mythology is important because of what it teaches you morally and what it helps you understand.

  15. After rereading the introduction of Mythology by Edith Hamilton and Bulfinch’s Mythology by Edmund Fuller, I have a clearer vision of what the book is trying to convey to the reader. In both books the author is trying to convey a theme that mythology is important but what distinguishes the two is what reasons are given to convey the reader to study and learn mythology. In both books, the author showed us their view of literature and mythology. In Bulfinch’s Mythology, he makes a point that, “the time even of the young is claimed by so many science of facts and things that littles can be spared for set treatises on a science of mere fancy.” In other words, a young person’s mind is overfilled with facts that it doesn’t have room for mythology. I interpreted this as saying that kids these days are filled with facts that they don’t have time to believe and see what it feels like to imagine. The book also claimed, “Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated.” There are many important people in our history and important names in literature that each symbolize something and if we don’t know that someone like Chaos who was a greek god who caused trouble, our language will be much harder to understand. Also, if someone makes a joke or a reference to something in literature, if a person doesn’t know who it was or what it means, they won’t understand it. Throughout the text, the word “if” is used a lot in the introduction because it is encouraging change so that if will only be a when. Anyways, the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton says, “we can retrace the path from civilized man who lives far from nature, to man who lived close companionship with nature; and the real interest of the myths is that they lead us back to a time when the world was young and people had a connection with the earth, with trees and seas and flowers and hills, unlike anything we ourselves can feel.” In this book, the author is trying to tell the reader that kids can’t understand what Greek and Roman mythology actually is but the author still recommends that kids should learn literature and mythology.

  16. Both Edith Hamilton and Bulfinch give their own takes on what mythology is and why it is important to study it before they give the full story of the Greek Mythology. Bulfinch thought that without knowledge of mythology, you cannot understand or enjoy literature. Bulfinch says that when books make references to mythology, people will not understand them if they are not knowledgeable about mythology. It is supposed to enlighten and entertain the reader. “If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which helps to enlarge our possessions or raise our societal position, then mythology has no claim to the appellation. But if that which tends to make us happier and better can be called useful then we claim that the epithet of the subject. For Mythology is the handmaid of literature: and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness. ”(p. 11). Hamilton says that all but the Greeks and Romans are primitive have and their gods are also more primitive. Hamilton says that because Greeks gave their gods personalities, they are more advanced and civilized. “The Greeks made their gods in their own image. That had not entered the mind of man before. Until then gods had no semblance of reality. They were unlike all living things.” (p. 16). I disagree with this because it does not mean that people did not have the imagination to think of personalities, they all just believed that if gods had so much power, they have no flaws.

    • I really like your comment, Aniket! You clearly explained Bulfinch’s idea of mythology, and you provided good evidence for Edith Hamilton and her perspective on Mythology. Well done!

  17. In the introduction of Bulfinch’s Mythology, Bulfinch states that Mythology is like another language, and it is one that is worth studying. He states that Mythology can enhance our morality. I agree with this. Mythology presents us stories that teach the reader lessons, and teaches the reader empathy. He also states that Mythology isn’t something that you can just read for entertainment, or to just have for fun. It is a piece of knowledge that is essential for all humans. And this knowledge needs to be studied before a reader can dive in. The culture of the story tellers, their beliefs, and who the gods are exactly are all things that must be taught before reading. Bulfinch sees Mythology as a necessity for students and readers and humans alike. Edith Hamilton, however, didn’t convey through her writing that Mythology is a necessity to better humans. It seemed as though she just wanted to give the reader an idea of the history of greeks, where they stood with other cultures, why they believed myths, and how they saw the gods. It was mainly a history lesson. I think that Edith Hamilton sees myths as merely a lesson in history, whereas Bulfinch sees it as something more. “And we for a moment can catch, through the myths he made a glimpse of that strangely and beautifully animated world.” (pp. 14) So here in the text, Edith Hamilton clearly thinks that Mythology is a clue to what the past was like. I agree with Bulfinch because of his moral aspect on Mythology. He gives a good argument, and he conveys it very well. However, I think that both introductions are very similar, but they each have a different gist.

    • I like your blog. I especially liked reading the part where you said, “Mythology isn’t something that you can just read for entertainment, or to just have for fun. It is a piece of knowledge that is essential for all humans.” I completely agree. Mythology is a basis of Western Civilization and so should have knowledge in that subject. Overall, I enjoyed your blog and appreciate how you in depth about both books opinion on the subject.

  18. After reading the beginning of “Mythology” by Thomas Bulfinch and “Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” by Edith Hamilton I noticed the dramatic entrances both writers used to start if the novel. In “Bulfinch’s Mythology”, we already talked in class about how the beginning meant that Mythology would make you a happier and morally better person, but not improve your social standing or wealth. We didn’t discuss “Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” at all. Edith Wharton believes that “[Through Mythology] we can retrace the path from civilized man who lives so far from nature, to man who lived in close companionship with nature.” Before we believed in the laws of science and demanded a scientific reason for everything people were closer to nature and the gods. Greek Myths are important in that they show the advancement of the Greeks, beyond savagery and brutality. In the times of the ancient Greek, people were also close to nature and had a more vivid imagination that produced monsters and nymphs. In modern times we have lost this attachment to nature but we can see it and regain it through Mythology. Greek Mythology is also important for the reason that, “with the coming forward of Greece, mankind became the center of the universe, the most important thing in it. This was a revolution in thought.” This thought was represented by the facts that gods looked and acted like mortals. Even though Edith Hamilton didn’t treat Mythology as truth, she understood the importance of reading and understanding it. Something we all should learn to do.

  19. The two introductions of Bullfinch’s Mythology and “Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” by Edith Hamilton are very similar yet different in their unique ways. When we read Bullfinch’s introduction in depth in class today, many discussion points arose. One being, that Bullfinch says that IF you believe this…… However, his next sentence goes IF you believe that Mythology is good…. He brings to light the importance of literature and how many don’t appreciate great works of writing because they’re “too long” or they’re too hard to understand. He also brings up the point of when an individual is reading, they often come across a word that seems strange and don’t look up what it means. I bet we all have experience with that for Great Expectations. He really connects his introduction with today’s generation as well. We all are absorbed with studying math and science and have no space or time for imagination or reading Mythology. Bullfinch finds that Mythology makes you a better person and improves your moral universe.
    On the other hand, Edith Hamilton, finds that Greek mythology is about the people and the Greek gods, and history and all of the drama. When I read her book, it seems like a history textbook, but more fun.
    The difference between the two is that Bullfinch adds that he wants Mythology to make difference in the young readers mind as well as informing him about Greek myths and tales.

  20. I guess you could say that Bulfinch and Edith had same but different reasons for writing about Greek mythology. For Bulfinch, as we discussed, wrote about mythology to have the readers not study it, but understand it, in a way where it seems more of relaxing and enjoyable to read, making the reader feel “happier and better.” For Edith Hamilton, she wrote about mythology to show how it made people feel protected and happier to be in ignorant bliss living within the Unknown. In her introduction, she was explaining that mythology was not a religion, but Greece’s answer to all questions of life. Instead of taking time to search for a reasonable answer that would not enhance the quality of their life and would stress them, they choose to create the gods, the Titans and all of the Greek mythology to create a sort of protective shield. People tend to be more vulnerable and afraid when they face the Unknown, so Greece uses mythology to cover up the Unknown and gives them a sense of motivation and confidence. For example, the Trojan Horse. Troy was afraid of what was the meaning of such an intimidating horse, as they knew nothing about it. They used Simon to give an inaccurate answer to the Trojans, and they believed it. His information had made them feel safe until the night where it had finally backfired on them. It is just like Greek mythology. Greece was afraid of the Unknown, as they know nothing about it. They used mythology to give an inaccurate answer to their kingdom, and they believed it. It made them feel safe, and all know that eventually, it would backfire on them. I think that Edith Hamilton elaborated more on what Bulfinch had said. It made them happier than they felt protected by gods, and better by hearing several stories of heroes dying bravely, possibly urging us to act the same way. Putting Bulfinch and Hamilton’s ideas together, it is definitely an idea of wonders.

    • Abigail, I love your analogy between the “protective shield” and Hamilton’s description of mythology’s purpose. You also explained your evidence very well and had a good analysis of both texts. Great response!

  21. The reason Bulfinch say mythology is important for us to read are quite different from the reasons Edith Hamilton outlines in her preface. Bulfinch heavily stresses how useful knowledge can make us happier and better people. And that this knowledge can be gained from reading good literature. He especially emphasizes the benefits of indulging yourself with mythological works. He says that they are very important because they help you to understand many great literary works like the poems of Milton. He also states many pieces of literature make references to great myths and the reader not understanding then can hinder their reading experience. Bulfinch feels reading mythology can make us happier and it provides useful knowledge that also makes us less ignorant when reading other texts. Edith Hamilton says that their important because we as readers should expose ourselves to simpler times. Times when man was one with nature and his surroundings. Edith Hamilton sees myths as an entertaining and engaging tool for people to see what the past was like and Bulfinch says myths give us more knowledge and insight in the world. Their ideas are different but similar and go nicely together when paired as one idea.

  22. Bulfinch’s Mythology and Edith Hamilton’s Mythology give some interesting comparisons as to why mythology is important to learn. As we discussed in class, Bulfinch’s explanation is more based on mythology being fun to read and enjoyable, as long as you understand it well enough. The more you read mythology, the more you come to understand it, and therefore the more fun you have while reading it. “But were these persons to add to their more solid acquirements the easy learning of this little volume, much of the poetry of Milton which has appeared to them ‘harsh and crabbed’ would be found ‘musical as is Apollo’s lute.’” (Bulfinch’s Mythology pg 11) As for Edith Hamilton’s explanation of mythology’s purpose, she gives a more straightforward and factual reason. She says that mythology was used to explain all of the things in ancient Greece and Rome that couldn’t be explained at the time. She also says that reading mythology allows us to reconnect with nature in a way, as people were once more inclined to do so. “Greek and Roman mythology is quite generally supposed to show us the way the human race thought and felt untold ages ago. Through it… we can retrace the path from civilized man who lives so far from nature, to man who lived in close companionship with nature.” (Timeless Tales pg. 13) I agree with both of these explanations of mythology’s importance, for different reasons. I agree with Bulfinch’s description, because from bits and pieces of mythology that I have read in the past, it is very interesting and even enjoyable to read. As for Hamilton’s account, I definitely believe that mythology was people’s way of explaining things that seemed to happen without reason, like strange weather or a bad harvest. Even today, a lot of people use religion to illustrate the reasoning behind supposedly strange occurrences. In this way, mythology was a lot like ancient peoples’ religion.

  23. In both Hamilton’s and Bulfinch’s mythology introductions they ideas that differ greatly from one another. First off Hamilton expresses how Mythology was somewhat advanced for its time. For the Greeks and the Romans to have gods that resemble realistic ideals rather than magic makes her think of them as a civilized society. “The Greeks made their gods in their own image. That had not entered the mind of man before. Until then gods had no semblance of reality. They were unlike all living things.” Hamilton emphasizes the fact that mythology is more of a way to look at the thought process of the Greeks and Romans. She based it as a look into the life of the ancient Greeks instead of literature. Which brings us to Bulfinch’s logic on why we should read mythology. He thinks of mythology as a fun activity in which the reader can learn many things. Even though he acknowledged that one cannot get any information that will help them succeed or get them more money, he does know that it can help a person morally. “Mythology is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.” Through mythology many life lessons are hidden in between the lines and overall you can become a good person if you carefully read it. In conclusion both of these authors had different but interesting views on mythology and why we should read it.

  24. In class, we read the preface of Bulfinch’s Mythology. From this, we learn of Edmund Fuller’s view on the study of mythology. “If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which helps to enlarge our possessions or to raise our station in society, the mythology has no claim to the appellation,”(pg.11). This definition means that mythology has no value in the sense of materialistic items. However, if you are interested in having better morals and being happier, then mythology is the best solution. In Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, he claims that mythology is the best method of reconnecting with nature. That because mythology has so many stories on how different aspects of the earth came to be, then it will allow you to connect with nature and be happier. Both authors claim that mythology is a path to happiness and can lead you to have better morals. However, neither claim that mythology will have any impact on your social class or materialistic values.

  25. In class we read the preface for Bullfinch’s Mythology, and we read Edith Hamilton’s preface. The preface for Bullfinch’s Mythology was not for the knowledge that can be applied to doing business or making money, but to enlighten and better yourself. In Edith Hamilton’s, she says that gods and the stories behind them and what they represent are emulations of humans themselves. Not only in appearance, but in the what they act, and humans the gods as ways for explaining natural phenomena. I agree with both, and see both of their arguments.

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