The Best Illustrated Greek Mythology Books

Tom Curley

The best illustrated Greek mythology books

Welcome to our guide on the best illustrated Greek mythology books! We’ve gathered a great collection of books that bring to life the exciting stories of Greek gods, heroes, and monsters with amazing pictures.

If you only want one book, check out our top pick at the start of the article. These books are perfect for anyone who loves mythology or enjoys beautiful illustrations. Let’s dive in and explore these awesome mythological stories.

This article is one in a series on the best Greek mythology books.

The Best Illustrated Greek Mythology Book – Mythology, The 75th-anniversary version, Edith Hamilton

Mythology - The 75th-anniversary version, Edith Hamilton book cover

If you can choose only one book on illustrated Greek mythology, Edith Hamilton’s 75th Anniversary Edition of “Mythology” is our top recommendation.

A classic since 1942, it has been a favorite for generations. What makes this edition particularly captivating are the stunning illustrations accompanying the stories. These illustrations are visually appealing and enhance the understanding of the intricate world of mythology.

The book’s design is equally impressive, making it a collector’s item. It includes family trees at the back, helping readers connect the dots between various heroes and gods. What stands out is the author’s effort to present different versions of the same tale, acknowledging the diverse sources these stories come from, including tragic plays and poetry. This approach enriches the reader’s experience and encourages further exploration of the source material.

Hamilton’s work is a blend of comprehensive research and engaging storytelling. Her inclusion of different interpretations of myths, like the varied tales of Jason on the Argo, adds depth to the reading experience. The story of Ipigneia’s demise is particularly moving, showcasing Hamilton’s skill in bringing these ancient tales to life. This edition is ideal for both newcomers to mythology and long-time enthusiasts.

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, Edgar Parin d’Aulaire and Ingri Parin d’Aulaire

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, Edgar Parin d'Aulaire and Ingri Parin d'Aulaire book cover

“D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths” is an excellent starting point for beginners delving into Greek mythology. Created by Caldecott winners Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, this book is a treasure trove of myths featuring gods, goddesses, and legendary figures like Zeus, Athena, Helios, and King Midas. The d’Aulaires’ approach is unique in its relaxed and humorous tone, making the ancient tales accessible and enjoyable for readers of all ages.

The illustrations in this book are a standout feature, described as “excellent and excitingly evocative” by The New York Times. Each page is filled with detailed and witty artwork that brings the stories to life, complementing the text and enhancing the reader’s understanding of the myths.

Highly regarded for its readability and appeal to a broad audience, “D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths” has been praised for its value as a read-aloud book for younger children and a self-reading book for older ones. It’s been recognized as a children’s classic, offering an excellent introduction to the rich world of Greek mythology.

Echo Echo, Marilyn Singer

Echo Echo, Marilyn Singer book cover

“Echo Echo” by Marilyn Singer is a captivating and innovative take on Greek mythology. This book is a collection of fourteen reverso poems that offer a fresh perspective on well-known Greek myths. Each poem can be read forward and backward, revealing different viewpoints and adding depth to the familiar stories.

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The artwork in “Echo Echo” is simply stunning, enhancing the beauty of the poetry. The vibrant illustrations contribute to the book’s overall appeal, especially for younger readers. The poems are a work of genius, skillfully crafted to change meaning when read in reverse, yet remain coherent and engaging. This creative approach makes it an excellent beginner’s introduction to Greek mythology for children.

Not only does the book provide poetic renditions of myths like Pandora’s Box, King Midas, Perseus and Medusa, and others, but it also includes a brief background explanation for each myth, making the stories accessible and educational. The poetry’s simplicity, combined with the bright colors and engaging illustrations, makes “Echo Echo” a highly recommended read for all ages.

If you’re looking for an introduction to Greek mythology that is both artistically beautiful and intellectually stimulating, “Echo Echo” is an excellent choice. Its unique format and the brilliance of its reverso poems make it a must-have for anyone interested in Greek myths, whether you’re a young reader or simply young at heart.

Greek Myths – Meet the Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of Ancient Greece, Jean Menzies

Greek Myths - Meet the Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of Ancient Greece, Jean Menzies book cover

“Greek Myths” is a beautifully illustrated book that perfectly introduces Ancient Greek mythology, especially for children aged 7 to 9. Containing over 30 retellings of favorite myths and some lesser-known tales, this book strikes an ideal balance between accessibility and authenticity. Each story, from Theseus and the Minotaur to the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts, is told in modern language that retains the original humor and intrigue.

What sets this book apart is the stunning illustrations by multi-award-winning artist Katie Ponder, which bring new life to each story. Her artwork is both vibrant and straightforward, complementing the tales wonderfully. The book also delves deeper into the mythical world with feature pages that profile the gods and provide a map of Odysseus’ journey home from the Trojan War.

This edition is noted for its respectful tone towards the original myths. It avoids oversimplification or condescension, presenting the tales in a storytelling tone that is engaging for both children and adults. Importantly, it doesn’t romanticize the myths; it explains relationships and events as part of the narrative, allowing readers to form their interpretations.

The final section explains how we know about these myths, covering topics from ancient art to the tradition of storytelling. This inclusion is rare in Greek myth collections and is perfect for anyone inspired to conduct further research.

Lore Olympus, Rachel Smythe

Lore Olympus, Rachel Smythe book cover

“Lore Olympus” by Rachel Smythe is an exceptional graphic novel that reinvents the love story of Hades and Persephone with a modern twist. This Eisner-nominated web-comic turned graphic novel stands out with its lavish artwork and compelling contemporary voice. The story is set in a world where the Greek Pantheon is reimagined in a modern age, blending scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love in a stylish and profoundly engaging style.

The narrative follows Persephone, depicted as a college student in Olympus on a scholarship from the Goddesses of Eternal Maidenhood. Her life takes a dramatic turn when she attends one of Zeus’s parties and meets Hades. Their mutual attraction is instant, yet their potential relationship is complicated by Persephone’s commitment to remain a sacred virgin.

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Smythe’s rich and layered storytelling offers a fresh perspective on the classic myth. The graphic novel is praised for its beautiful and unique art style, enhancing the plot. The story is not just a simple retelling; it’s a complex, fast-paced narrative with twisty plots and characters that are both relatable and enchanting.

Persephone’s character is exceptionally well-crafted, balancing innocence and strength in a world filled with complex deities and challenging situations. Her dynamics with Hades highlight the story, bringing a sense of depth and authenticity to their interactions.

The first volume of “Lore Olympus” covers episodes 1-25 of the original web-comic, offering a tantalizing glimpse into a much larger and continuously evolving story. Despite the heavy themes, including dealing with sexual abuse, the series maintains a balance of humor and charm alongside its more serious undertones.

Weird But True! Greek Mythology, Sarah Wassner Flynn

Weird But True! Greek Mythology, Sarah Wassner Flynn book cover

“Weird But True Know-It-All: Greek Mythology” is a captivating book for children aged 10-13, enriched with striking full-color illustrations that bring the ancient world of Greek mythology to life.

The illustrations in this book are a key highlight, offering a visual feast that complements the mythological tales. Each page is adorned with vibrant, detailed artwork that captures the essence of ancient Greece’s gods, goddesses, heroes, and monsters.

The visual portrayal of quests, muses, and even famous philosophers adds an extra layer of interest and helps to bridge the gap between ancient tales and contemporary understanding.

Furthermore, the illustrations enhance the book’s ability to link mythological stories with present-day words and concepts. They provide a contemporary context that makes the ancient tales more relevant and easier to understand for young readers.

Gods, Men, and Monsters, Michael Gibson

Gods, Men, and Monsters, Michael Gibson book cover

“Gods, Men, and Monsters from the Greek Myths” is a compelling anthology of twenty-six stories from Greek mythology, making it a treasured find for anyone interested in ancient tales.

Based on the stories of Hesiod, Homer, and Ovid, this book tells tales of heroes, gods, and how things in nature came to be. It’s easy to understand yet full of interesting details, making it great for readers of all ages.

The book’s illustrations capture the essence of Greek mythology, bringing gods, heroes, and monsters to life in a captivating and educational way. They complement the narrative beautifully, making the book a reading experience and a visual journey through the mythical world.

Another notable aspect is the book’s accessible writing style. It presents the stories in simple language yet never patronizes the reader. This approach makes the myths understandable and enjoyable for a younger audience while still being engaging for older readers. The section on the Gods’ family tree is particularly fascinating, offering insights into Greek deities’ complex relationships and lineage.

The balance of easy-to-understand prose and striking illustrations makes it a worthy read for anyone, young or old, who wishes to delve into the captivating world of Greek myths. It’s a book that can be returned to time and again, with each reading offering new insights and pleasures.

Greek Myths, Ann Turnbull

Greek Myths, Ann Turnbull book cover

“Greek Myths” by Ann Turnbull, with illustrations by Sarah Young, is a visually stunning journey into the legendary world of ancient Greece, ideal for readers aged 9-12. Young’s striking examples transform this collection of sixteen celebrated myths into a visual masterpiece, making it a delightful read for children and adults alike.

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Sarah Young’s artwork is a highlight of this book. Her illustrations are rich in expressive detail, bringing each myth to life with a distinctive and vivid style. The visuals perfectly complement Turnbull’s compelling prose, adding depth and engagement to the stories. From the sorrowful tale of Persephone to the tragic love of Orpheus and Eurydice, each narrative is given a new dimension through Young’s artistic interpretation.

The illustrations are particularly effective in depicting the mythical characters and settings. The formidable appearance of Cerberus, the three-headed dog, and the menacing look of Medusa with her snake hair are just examples of how the artwork enhances the mythical experience.

Gift From the Gods, Lise Lunge-Larsen

Gift From the Gods, Lise Lunge-Larsen book cover

“Gifts from the Gods: Ancient Words and Wisdom from Greek Mythology” by Lise Lunge-Larsen stands out for its insightful exploration of language and its lavish illustrations that bring Greek mythology to life for young readers aged 9-12. This book excels in visually depicting how common words and phrases we use today have roots in ancient Greek stories.

Lunge-Larsen’s book reveals how many words we use daily have roots in ancient Greek stories. The book explores various terms like “chaos,” “genius,” “nemesis,” and “panic,” connecting them to the mythological tales and characters they originated from. For example, it explains how museums were once temples to the muses and goddesses of the arts and how the word “Janus” influenced the term “janitors.”

The illustrations are integral in making complex concepts like “chaos,” “genius,” “nemesis,” and “panic” understandable and intriguing to a young audience. They enhance the reader’s engagement with the text, ensuring that the wisdom of these ancient myths is conveyed in an accessible and enjoyable manner.

Black Ships Before Troy, Rosemary Sutcliff

Black Ships Before Troy, Rosemary Sutcliff book cover

“Black Ships Before Troy,” the award-winning adaptation of Homer’s epic “The Iliad” by Rosemary Sutcliff, is visually brought to life through the dramatic and haunting illustrations of Alan Lee. Lee, known for his Art Direction in “The Lord of the Rings,” infuses the book with a sense of the epic, making it a visually captivating read for both children and adults.

The illustrations by Alan Lee are a central feature of this book. His artwork captures the grandeur and intensity of the Trojan War, portraying iconic scenes and characters with a depth that complements Sutcliff’s prose.

The images of Achilles, for instance, are particularly striking. Lee depicts him as a figure who commands attention, his presence powerful and fear-inducing, perfectly aligning with Sutcliff’s vivid character portrayal. When Patroclus falls, Achilles’ rage is described in words and powerfully visualized in Lee’s art, enhancing the story’s emotional impact.

This book serves as an excellent introduction to “The Iliad.” While Sutcliff’s writing is concise and gripping, Lee’s illustrations elevate this adaptation, making it not just a retelling of an epic tale but a visual journey through one of the greatest stories ever told.

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Tom Curley
I'm Tom Curley, owner and operator of History Hogs, where my passion for ancient history drives everything we do. From Rome to Byzantium, I dive deep into the stories and details that shaped our past.
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