Thomas Bulfinch

Easton Press Thomas Bulfinch books

The Age of Fable or Stories of Gods and Heroes - Library of Famous Editions  - 1995
Bulfinch's Mythology - 1998
The Illustrated Age of Fable - 1998
Bulfinch's Mythology - 3 volume set deluxe edition - 2014
Set includes:
The Age of Fable
The Age of Chivalry
The Legends of Charlemagne  


Who was Thomas Bulfinch?

Thomas Bulfinch, born on July 15, 1796, in Newton, Massachusetts, was an American writer and banker best known for his contributions to classical mythology and folklore. His literary legacy is epitomized by "Bulfinch's Mythology," a collection of retellings of myths and legends from various cultures. Coming from a well-educated and prominent Boston family, Bulfinch received a classical education that instilled in him a deep appreciation for literature and the classics. He initially pursued a career in banking, working for the Merchants' Bank of Boston. However, his true passion lay in literature, and he dedicated much of his free time to studying and writing.

In 1855, Bulfinch published his most significant work, The Age of Fable; or, Stories of Gods and Heroes, the first volume of what would later become Bulfinch's Mythology. This collection aimed to make the classical myths and legends accessible to a broader audience by presenting them in a clear and engaging narrative style. The success of The Age of Fable prompted Bulfinch to expand the collection, and subsequent volumes included The Age of Chivalry and Legends of Charlemagne. Bulfinch's Mythology became immensely popular, and its enduring appeal lies in Bulfinch's ability to retell these timeless stories with simplicity, grace, and a touch of moral insight. His work has been praised for its readability and has served as an introduction to classical mythology for generations of readers.

While Bulfinch achieved recognition and success through his mythological works, he also wrote essays and reviews for periodicals such as The North American Review. In addition to his literary pursuits, he remained active in banking throughout his life. Thomas Bulfinch's impact on literature extends beyond his lifetime, as Bulfinch's Mythology has remained a classic and influential work. The collection has been reprinted and adapted numerous times, attesting to its enduring relevance and appeal. Thomas Bulfinch passed away on May 27, 1867, leaving behind a legacy that continues to enrich the understanding and appreciation of classical mythology for readers of all ages.

The Age of Fable

The religions of ancient Greece and Rome are extinct. The so-called divinities of Olympus have not a single worshipper among living men. They belong now not to the department of theology, but to those of literature and taste. There they still hold their place, and will continue to hold it, for they are too closely connected with the finest productions of poetry and art, both ancient and modern, to pass into oblivion.

Bulfinch's Mythology

For almost a century and a half, Bulfinch's Mythology has been the text by which the great tales of the gods and goddesses, Greek and Roman antiquity; Scandinavian, Celtic, and Oriental fables and myths; and the age of chivalry have been known.

The stories are divided into three sections: The Age of Fable or Stories of Gods and Heroes (first published in 1855); The Age of Chivalry (1858), which contains King Arthur and His Knights, The Mabinogeon, and The Knights of English History; and Legends of Charlemagne or Romance of the Middle Ages (1863). For the Greek myths, Bulfinch drew on Ovid and Virgil, and for the sagas of the north, from Mallet's Northern Antiquities. He provides lively versions of the myths of Zeus and Hera, Venus and Adonis, Daphne and Apollo, and their cohorts on Mount Olympus; the love story of Pygmalion and Galatea; the legends of the Trojan War and the epic wanderings of Ulysses and Aeneas; the joys of Valhalla and the furies of Thor; and the tales of Beowulf and Robin Hood.

The tales are eminently readable. As Thomas Bulfinch wrote, "Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated. . . . Our book is an attempt to solve this problem, by telling the stories of mythology in such a manner as to make them a source of amusement."

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