Ferry (Philosophy/Sorbonne; A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living, 2011, etc.) brilliantly illustrates the basis of Greek philosophy in the structure of its myths.
“Mythology is at the core of ancient wisdom,” writes the author, “the foundation for that great edifice of Greek philosophy that would subsequently sketch out, in conceptual form, the blueprint of a successful life for human kind, mortal as we are.” His retelling of Greek myths is impressive, and his true gift is his exploration of all the poets, including, but not limited to, Homer, Appollodorus, Ovid, Nonnus and Pindar, all of who have added to these myths. The cosmic order evolved from chaos to the cosmos. The myths explore the creation of the universe and of man, how man fits into the greater order and what happens to those who defy the gods out of hubris, as well as those who fight to maintain that order. The first four gods, Chaos, Eros, Gaia and Tartarus, are not individuals but forces of nature. The stories of the clashes of their children show the need for justice and order, accord and identity. Thus, his hubris in defying the gods shows the underlying truth. You cannot have harmony without discord; you cannot have life without death. The philosophical messages of the myths are the harmonious order of things: justice, or the agreement with order, and hubris, or the resistance to order. The author shows that Greek myths explore life beyond theology, thus giving birth to philosophy. The most important legacy of the myths is the essential question of how to achieve a good life.
A worthy, fun way to enjoy ancient myths while learning some pure philosophy.