Burland's retellings are not intended as a substitute for reading these warrior myths and epics in the original; rather they...

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THE GODS AND HEROES OF WAR

Burland's retellings are not intended as a substitute for reading these warrior myths and epics in the original; rather they are intended to illuminate the ways in which a culture's gods reflected (and were reflected in) its concepts of warfare and heroism. To Burland, the Greek gods were modeled on the behavior of the Greek noble class and the unpredictability of the war god Ares focused attention on the half-human, athlete hero Achilles. Similarly, the Aztecs adopted the fiery Huitzilopochtli (or Blue Hummingbird) whose demands justified and inspired their cruel conquests of the Toltecs and other indigenous tribes, and the staunchly independent Norsemen treasured the tales of the trickster Loki who on occasion outwitted the more powerful Thor. The theory of myth and culture which underlines these observations is never articulated, but Burland keeps sweeping generalizations to a minimum and substantiates his profile of each type of warrior through a variety of textual and anthropological evidence. The discussion of the conventions of Bronze Age warfare and Greek oral and written literature should be an aid in approaching the Iliad, and the essay as a whole would be an agreeable, undemanding first step for the student who still enjoys the tales for their own sake but is ready to enlarge his view of the role of myth and legend.

Pub Date: April 1, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974