The best retellings of Greek myths

Our edit of the best books based on myths from ancient Greece.

Ancient myths and legends have been passed down for thousands of years. These stories fascinate us with their compelling mix of epic adventure, intriguing mystery and lurking, sinister evil. 

In recent years, a number of books that tell the unheard stories of mythological characters have become huge bestsellers, adored by critics and readers alike. Read on for our edit of some of the best retellings of Greek mythology.

Stone Blind

by Natalie Haynes

As the sole mortal in a family of gods, Medusa begins to realize that she is the only one who experiences change, the only one who can be hurt, and the only one who lives with an urgency that her family will never know. Then, when the sea god Poseidon commits an unforgivable act in the temple of Athene, the goddess takes her revenge where she can – and Medusa is changed forever. Writhing snakes replace her hair, and her gaze now turns any living creature to stone. Unable to control her new power, she is condemned to a life of shadows and darkness. Until Perseus embarks upon a quest . . .

At last, Medusa's story is told.


by Fran Ross

Oreo is a playful retelling of the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur with a feminist twist. In the epic legend, Theseus must make his way through the complex labyrinth to find and defeat the Minotaur, fulfilling his destiny. Fran Ross’s hero, who shares her name with the book’s title, is on a quest to find her father who vanished when she was just a baby, leaving behind a mysterious note. As Oreo searches for her father in the labyrinth of Manhatten, her journey becomes one of self-discovery and she is able to break free of the myths that have always constrained her.


by Madeline Miller

Book cover for Circe

Circe, a powerful enchantress, is well known for her part in The Odyssey, the story of Odysseus and his long and difficult journey home to Ithaca after the Trojan War. But, in Madeleine Miller’s latest book, Circe, the formidable Witch of Aiaia is no longer just a character in someone else’s story . . . The book takes us through Circe’s beginnings as an outcast teenager struggling with her powers, to her transformation into a strong and independent woman who must fight to protect herself and that which she holds dear.

A Thousand Ships

by Natalie Haynes

The Siege of Troy is perhaps the best known of the Greek myths. For ten long years, the Greeks waged a brutal war against the city of Troy as revenge for the kidnap of Helen, the beautiful wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta. This story has been told many times, but most often through the eyes of men. Natalie Haynes’s A Thousand Ships tells this story from an all-female perspective, giving a rich and layered voice to the many women, girls and even goddesses who have often been unheard.

The Penelopiad

by Margaret Atwood

Book cover for The Penelopiad

Margaret Atwood’s incredible novella, The Penelopiad, follows the story of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, who is left alone in Ithaca when he goes to war. In the book, Penelope finally gets the chance to tell her side of the story, revealing the truth behind some of Odysseus’s greatest heroic triumphs and the reality of her long wait for his return. In The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood expertly shows us the double standards between the genders and the importance of perspective.

The Children of Jocasta

by Natalie Haynes

In this book, Natalie Haynes reimagines another ancient myth - that of Oedipus and Antigone. Upon his birth, Oedipus is destined for a tragic fate: to murder his father and unknowingly marry his own mother, Jocasta. Their daughter, Antigone, is horrified upon discovering the truth and decides to take her own life. The Children of Jocasta is split between the voice of Jocasta and that of her other daughter Ismene, giving new perspective to the well-known myth.

The Silence of the Girls

by Pat Barker

Book cover for The Silence of the Girls

The critically-acclaimed The Silence of the Girls is a retelling of the Siege of Troy, told from the perspective of just one woman, Briseis, a Trojan Queen who is captured by the Greek army and forced to become a bed-slave to Achilles. In this story, Pat Barker focuses on the experience of women through the war, showing us the extent of their loss, the depth of their courage and bravery, and the strength of their connection to one another. 

Pandora's Jar

by Natalie Haynes

Until recently, most modern retellings of Greek myths have been written by men, with their focus firmly on male protagonists – from Zeus to Agamemnon and Oedipus to Jason. In her new book, bestselling novelist Natalie Haynes places women on equal footing with their male peers. Starting with the tale of Pandora, the first woman according to Greek Mythology, Haynes gives voice to characters who have, until now, primarily played a supporting role. Read the stories of Hera, Athena and Artemis, Jocasta, Eurydice and many more in this celebration of the females at the heart of these ancient stories. 


by Kae Tempest

Philoctetes lives in a cave on a desolate island: the wartime hero is now a wounded outcast. Stranded for ten years, he sees a chance of escape when a young soldier appears with tales of Philoctetes’ past glories. But with hope comes suspicion – and, as an old enemy emerges, he is faced with an even greater temptation: revenge. Kae Tempest is now widely acknowledged as a revolutionary force in contemporary British poetry, music and drama; they continue to expand the range of their work with a new version of Sophocles’ Philoctetes in a bold new translation. 

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Divine Might

by Natalie Haynes

Reexamining the role of Greek goddesses, Natalie Haynes' Divine Might will change everything you thought you knew about our most ancient stories. Meet Athene, who sprang fully formed from her father’s head: goddess of war and wisdom, guardian of Athens. Run with Artemis, goddess of hunting and protector of young girls (apart from those she decides she wants as a sacrifice). Reappraise Aphrodite, goddess of sex and desire – there is no deity more determined and able to make you miserable if you annoy her. And bow down to Hera, Zeus’s long-suffering wife, whose jealousy of his dalliances with mortals, nymphs and goddesses lead her to wreak elaborate, vicious revenge on those who have wronged her.

Greek Myths: Heroes and Heroines

by Jean Menzies

Find out what happened when King Midas was granted his wish, how Icarus flew too close to the sun, and relive the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts in these stories of love, betrayal, infatuation and punishment. Classicist and writer Jean Menzies has brought together fifteen retellings of famous myths from the likes of Andrew and Jean Lang, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Emilie Kip Baker, each chosen for its clarity and vivacity. The result? An enlightening and lively volume of stories and a treat for all fans of Greek mythology.

Greek Myths: Gods and Goddesses

by Jean Menzies

The stories of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece are sprawling, dramatic and wonderfully strange; their lives intertwine with mortals and their behaviours fluctuate wildly from benevolent to violent, from didactic to fickle, from loving to enraged. Jean Menzies captures the magic of Greek myths by drawing on a wide variety of vivid retellings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Coupled with her own entertaining commentary, this is the perfect book for learning about the world of the Greek deities and a treat for all fans of Greek mythology.

The Odyssey

by Homer

Of course, the reason many myths and legends have endured for centuries is our love of epic adventures, and Homer’s The Odyssey is perhaps the greatest adventure of them all. Here, in our Macmillan Collectors edition, discover the T. E. Lawrence translation of the text, credited as the first to be both faithful to the original and accessible for the modern reader.