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Publisher's Summary

The deep-seated origins and wide-reaching lessons of ancient myths built the foundation for our modern legacies. Explore the mythologies of Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Learn what makes these stories so important, distinctive, and able to withstand the test of time. Discover how, despite geographical implausibilities, many myths from across the oceans share themes, morals, and archetypes.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2015 The Great Courses (P)2015 The Teaching Company, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Dan
  • St Louis, MO United States
  • 03-16-16

mostly awesome

The sections on European, Asian, and Native American mys were awesome. I could tell that the scholars had really spent a significant amount of time to organize the lectures into a cohesive and comprehensible course. The section on African myths needs development - I liked what I learned of the stories, themselves, but the course was significantly lacking in organization and attempting to connect the themes into larger issues of relevance. my favorite section was on Native American myths. It was obvious that the scholar had spent a lifetime researching and teaching these stories. The way these were presented stands in marked contrast to the these-are-some-cool-things-I've learned-about approach of the African myths.

67 of 70 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Three Fantastic Lecturers, + one iffy one.

Multi-lecturer courses are always prone to fluctuations in quality… But 3 out of 4 ain't bad!

Kathryn McClymond covers the myths of ancient Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia. Her lectures are fantastic, offering a good balance of storytelling and interpretation. She tells the stories, then uses them to construct a coherent cosmology of each culture, so you get a sense of their view of the real world and of the cosmos. It's also nice to have a woman's perspective on this stuff; history is still so male dominated, and she calls due attention to the sexism inherent in a lot of the myths, and what it says about the relevant culture.

After her, Julius Bailey, who covers African myths, is a letdown. African myth is a huge subject, so his task is difficult. But he chooses to organize his myths by topic, NOT by culture, so it's impossible to get that sense of a coherent cosmology for any one culture. He's also not a good orator; he trips over the emphasis of every third sentence.

Andre LaFleur's lectures on Asian and Pacific myths picks things right up again though. He provides a good balance of story and interpretation, and he steers clear of the typical pitfalls of a white guy teaching "foreign" cultures -- avoiding essentialism, or romanticizing the role of Westerners in documenting the material, for instance.

Grant Voth's lectures on Native American myths are some of the best of the pack, even though -- according to his CV in the PDF -- he doesn't seem to have any formal experience with the topic. His task is like Bailey's, but he organizes his lectures by broad regions wherein there is a common mythic tradition (with variations), and so it's possible to get a sense of each culture -- or family of cultures, if you will -- and their cosmology.

All in all, I recommend it -- you're bound to learn a lot.

206 of 219 people found this review helpful

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  • khilsati
  • NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States
  • 03-28-17

Amazing Course!

This course is one of the best audio book I ever listened to! It will take you from the myths of ancient Europe, turn south to Africa then East to reach China, Korea, Japan and the Pacific islands, to ends perfectly with the Native Americans myths. Incredible and fascinating.

However, I have to point out like many other reviews that the performance in part 2 is bad. The speaker's talk is with a very monotone voice while stuttering and hesitating all the time. The way the lesson is built is also problematic for a better understanding. This decrease the interest of the African myths, which is a bummer.

That being said, the 3 others parts are amazing, and this class should be mandatory to everybody on Audible!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

What about the Norse

This was a great course spending hours on European, African, Asian, Australia, Oceania, and the Americas myths, religions, and cultures. Sadly the Norse barely get a mention by a scholar who is very adept in Greek and Roman myth obviously knows little about the Norse religion or culture. It was exceptionally disappointing, there are many great scholars who teach Norse myth that could have been used.

40 of 44 people found this review helpful

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Uneven but overall excellent.

The first third was by far the best; she is an excellent reader. The "Africa" section failed to engage me. But the "American" section that ended the series had me involved again. How much our schools do not teach us!!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Good material.

The material was interesting, but one of the lecturers (the second one, lecturing on the myths of Africa) was so difficult to listen to I almost abandoned the whole lecture.

30 of 35 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Course!

Diverse and entertaining, informative, and easy to listen to. I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to study the subject.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Uneven due to different lecturers.

What did you like best about Great Mythologies of the World? What did you like least?

Appreciated the in depth knowledge of the professors and in general their delivery and presentation. There is not enough material or rather differences between the mythologies of the various African countries to have spent so much time on them. It became repetitive and boring.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Obviously the myths are most interesting. Least interesting is too subjective to present with any validity.

What three words best describe the narrators’s voice?

Cannot accurately rate

Was Great Mythologies of the World worth the listening time?

Yes generally it was, with exception of African lectures - but only due to repetitive nature

25 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Amazing

I loved this great course! In Particular, African and Native American myths were fantastic as I was less familiar with these. There are layers here, and avenues to better understand who we are and why we think the way we do.

18 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Great mythologies by great professors

I found this volume very informative and entertaining. The only issue is a minor one, and that it doesn't explain where each mythological character stands among their own mythology, pantheon, or bestiary. This is easily solved by buying specific courses for mythologies that catch your interest.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 08-15-16

Worth Getting if You're Interested in Mythology

What did you like most about Great Mythologies of the World?

This audiobook is a great overview of world mythology. It contains lectures (of around 30-40 minutes long) on mythology from Greece, Rome, The Norse, The Bible, Egypt, Celtic Ireland, The Middle East, The Far East, Africa and The Americas.

Prior to this course I knew very little about mythology. I am keen to learn more about mythology and religion at the moment because I want to increase my mythological and religious literacy so that I am better placed to appreciate some of the great works of world literature. I have learnt much from this course. I particularly enjoyed learning about Western mythology because I mostly read Western Literature. I also enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences between one culture and another.

I have listened to 30ish different courses from The Great Courses now, and my favorite courses multiple times. I don't like to be a hater but the lecturer on African Mythology really seemed out of his depth (I honestly wondered if he was standing in for someone else). The other professors spoke confidently, as though they were talking to a group without any notes, yet still managing to be methodical and enthralling. Professor Bailey was obviously reading word for word from a script. He constantly got words mixed up and his regular mid-clause pauses were very off-putting.

Additionally, the structure of the African lectures was poor; whereas the other professors expanded of the myths by giving historical, political and cultural contexts and exploring the possible interpretations and the implications of the myths, Professor Bailey seemed to change the subject every 2 minutes, seemingly hellbent on getting through all of the African Myths ever created with far too little time for building the context, interpretation, and the impact the myth had on the various cultures of Africa. Consequently, after the third or forth lecture from him, I had to hop over to The Far East.

I still got about a days worth of good lectures, and overall I am happy with that. If you want to learn more about the various heroes, ancient gods and how the various ancient peoples of the world came up with explanations for the big questions then this is for you.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • s. vandemeulebroucke
  • 02-07-18

Let’s you down towards the end

Any additional comments?

The content is very interesting, although some myths get more attention with context (past and present) from the writers. However, when it gets to the series on African myths the whole thing becomes quite painful to listen and one’s perseverance is put to the test. Which is a shame as I’m very interested in the subject. The narration is an abomination and quite frankly I don’t understand why they just didn’t record those bits again. Not only the narrator’s story telling is monotonous and monotone (funny when delivery a topic which relies on story telling!) but he literally shambles all the way through. The listener then starts to anticipate the next time the narrator will drip over and stops paying attention to the story. As soon as one relaxes into it again, he trips again. Why didn’t the producer just have him read again with more fluidity? I’m so disappointed...

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Roxana
  • 02-17-18

not well prepared

if you don't know the stories already it is hard to follow. not really worth it and the lecturers prepared their presentations assuming I had a booklet with all that info and I had general knowledge of everything they say

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew McC
  • 05-19-18

Possibly the best audio book ever

This is an amazing audiobook. If you like stories or myths this is for you. I have never enjoyed a book so much! fascinating.

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  • Ed
  • 10-18-17

Absolutely brilliant introduction to mythologies of the world

There can’t be many books that try to cover so much. It was a great way of broadening my awareness and understanding. It has sparked a number of new interests.

Book is let down a little by having no central narrative so at times feels like a slightly disjointed set of short stories. It is also true that some professors are better orators than others.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-30-17

Excellent book. I want to listen all over again.

An inspiring series of lectures. Presenters are great. Recording quality a bit dodgy. Profound learning.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dr Dave
  • 07-28-17

Awesome. I will have to listen again.

Packed with info and interpretations. Dispute being very long, it was easy to listen to and the contributors clearly knew their subject area.

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  • Vicente
  • 05-23-17

muy interesante p

me ha gustado. He aprendido muchos cuentos para contarle a mi hija y he ensanchado mi entendimiento de otras culturas.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-15-17

some sections are better th an others

I found some sections were just stories with little context. Other sections were excellent, but the bad were very poor, hence the rating.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Clay Baker
  • 02-09-17

Great

But sometimes wish it would go into more detail about some of the myths, or tell them fuller. Some of the myths were amazing!

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  • Daniel A.
  • 05-06-17

Broad range of stories and explanations

fantastic learning! was great to hear about myths from across the world and be able to put together common topics and even similarly described creatures.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Carol
  • 06-10-18

Starts out GREAT then fizzles

The first third of this book which covers Greek Italian Irish Norsk mythology is awesome - I could listen to author, academic and narrator Kathryn McClymond all day - her knowledge and the way she draws the listener is worth purchasing this audio book for.

BUT . . . the listener is then challenged with an American narrator whose inflections and false excitement was so over the top I had to fast forward thru the African mythology to the Asian section.

For anyone interested in learning about mythology, I would definitely recommend this audiobook.

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  • Zohal
  • 05-06-18

Suffers from lack of direction

Overload of information you'll never remember. Lack of analysis. Suffers from lack of direction and structure. Narration was okay.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-27-18

Click Bait

Seemed to be more about feminism and social justice than the books title...2 to three chapters in and no myths ..just some narrator mouthing off about myths