Text: "Retellings of classic myths and legends. Greek Heroines." Image of a classical marble bust.

Greek Heroines

Modernized retellings of classic mythological stories, told by the women who feature prominently within them – and who have gone voiceless for too long.


Fiction

FICTION ATWOOD

The Penelopiad / Margaret Atwood

Penelope’s slyly brilliant side of the story, from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Blind Assassin, Hag-Seed, and The Handmaid’s Tale. Also available as an audiobook from hoopla.

FICTION BARKER

The Silence of the Girls / Pat Barker

Here is the story of the Iliad as we’ve never heard it before: in the words of Briseis, Trojan queen and captive of Achilles. Her story pulls back the veil on the thousands of women who lived behind the scenes of the Greek army camp—concubines, nurses, prostitutes, the women who lay out the dead—as gods and mortals spar, and as a legendary war hurtles toward its inevitable conclusion. Also available in Large Print.

FICTION BARKER

The Women of Troy / Pat Barker

Troy has fallen and the victorious Greeks are eager to return home with the spoils of an endless war—including the women of Troy themselves. Largely unnoticed by her captors, the one time Trojan queen Briseis, formerly Achilles’s slave, now belonging to his companion Alcimus, quietly takes in these developments. She forges alliances when she can, with Priam’s aged wife the defiant Hecuba and with the disgraced soothsayer Calchas, all the while shrewdly seeking her path to revenge.

FICTION CASATI

Clytemnestra / Costanza Casati

You were born to a king, but you marry a tyrant. You stand by helplessly as he sacrifices your child to placate the gods. You watch him wage war on a foreign shore, and you comfort yourself with violent thoughts of your own. Because this was not the first offence against you. This was not the life you ever deserved. And this will not be your undoing. Slowly, you plot. Also available as an ebook on hoopla.

FICTION GEORGE

Helen of Troy / Margaret George

Married at a tender age to the remote Spartan king Menelaus, the beautiful Helen bears him a daughter and anticipates a passionless marriage in spite of her divine origins before falling in love with the Trojan prince Paris, with whom she flees to Troy, with devastating consequences.

FICTION HAYNES

Stone Blind / Natalie Haynes

In Stone Blind, classicist and comedian Natalie Haynes turns our understanding of this legendary myth on its head, bringing empathy and nuance to one of the earliest stories in which a woman—injured by a powerful man—is blamed, punished, and monstered for the assault. Delving into the origins of this mythic tale, Haynes revitalizes and reconstructs Medusa’s story with her passion and fierce wit, offering a timely retelling of this classic myth that speaks to us today. Also available as an ebook on Libby/OverDrive.

FICTION HAYNES

A Thousand Ships / Natalie Haynes

In the middle of the night, a woman wakes to find her beloved city engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over. Troy has fallen. From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks, to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf, to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus, to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, these are the stories of the women whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war. Also available as an audiobook, ebook on hoopla.

FICTION HEYWOOD

Daughters of Sparta / Claire Heywood

As princesses of Sparta, Helen and Klytemnestra have known nothing but luxury and plenty. With their high birth and unrivaled beauty, they are the envy of all of Greece. But such privilege comes at a cost. While still only girls, the sisters are separated and married to foreign kings of their father’s choosing.
But when the weight of their husbands’ neglect, cruelty, and ambition becomes too heavy to bear, Helen and Klytemnestra must push against the constraints of their society to carve new lives for themselves, and in doing so, make waves that will ripple throughout the next three thousand years.

FICTION HEYWOOD

The Shadow of Perseus / Claire Heywood

Nationally bestselling author of Daughters of Sparta Claire Heywood returns with an imaginative and female-centered reinterpretation of the myth of the great hero Perseus, told through the voices of three women who are sidelined in the traditional version—his mother, Danae; his trophy, Medusa; and his wife, Andromeda—but whose viewpoints reveal a man who is not, in fact, a hero at all. As Perseus becomes increasingly obsessed with the promise of his own destiny, his heroic journey casts a shadow of violence and destruction across all three women’s lives.

FICTION MILLER

Circe / Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child — not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power — the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world. Also available in Large Print and as an audiobook on CD.

FICTION MILLER

Galatea: A Short Story / Madeline Miller

In ancient Greece, a skilled marble sculptor has been blessed by a goddess who has given his masterpiece—the most beautiful woman the town has ever seen—the gift of life. After marrying her, he expects Galatea to please him, to be obedience and humility personified. But she has desires of her own and yearns for independence. In a desperate bid by her obsessive husband to keep her under control, Galatea is locked away under the constant supervision of doctors and nurses. But with a daughter to rescue, she is determined to break free, whatever the cost.

FICTION NORTH

Ithaca / Claire North

Seventeen years ago, King Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them has returned, and the women of Ithaca have been left behind to run the kingdom. Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. While he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that her husband is dead, and suitors are beginning to knock at her door. As everyone waits for the balance of power to tip, Penelope knows that any choice she makes could plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. 

FICTION SAINT

Ariadne / Jennifer Saint

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? Also available as an audiobook on hoopla.

FICTION SAINT

Atalanta / Jennifer Saint

When Princess Atalanta is born, a daughter rather than the son her parents hoped for, she is left on a mountainside to die. But even then, she is a survivor. Raised by a mother bear under the protective eye of the goddess Artemis, Atalanta grows up wild and free, with just one condition: if she marries, Artemis warns, it will be her undoing. But when Artemis offers her the chance to fight in her name alongside the Argonauts, the fiercest band of warriors the world has ever seen, Atalanta seizes it. The Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece is filled with impossible challenges, but Atalanta proves herself equal to the men she fights alongside. As she is swept into a passionate affair, in defiance of Artemis’s warning, she begins to question the goddess’s true intentions. Can Atalanta carve out her own legendary place in a world of men, while staying true to her heart?

FICTION SAINT

Elektra / Jennifer Saint

Three women, tangled in an ancient curse. When Clytemnestra marries Agamemnon, she ignores the insidious whispers about his family line, the House of Atreus. But when, on the eve of the Trojan War, Agamemnon betrays Clytemnestra in the most unimaginable way, she must confront the curse that has long ravaged their family. In Troy, Princess Cassandra has the gift of prophecy, but carries a curse of her own: no one will ever believe what she sees. When she is shown what will happen to her beloved city when Agamemnon and his army arrives, she is powerless to stop the tragedy from unfolding. Elektra, Clytemnestra and Agamemnon’s youngest daughter, wants only for her beloved father to return home from war. But can she escape her family’s bloody history, or is her destiny bound by violence, too?

FICTION SHEPPERSON

Phaedra / Laura Shepperson

Phaedra has been cast to the side all her life: daughter of an adulteress, sister of a monster, and now unwilling bride to the much-older, power-hungry Theseus. Young, naïve, and idealistic, she has accepted her lot in life, resigned to existing under the sinister weight of Theseus’s control and the constant watchful eye of her handsome stepson Hippolytus. When supposedly pious Hippolytus assaults her, Phaedra’s world is darkened in the face of untouchable, prideful power. In the face of injustice, Phaedra refuses to remain quiet any longer: such an awful truth demands to be brought to light. Also available as an ebook on hoopla.

FICTION TOIBIN

House of Names / Colm Toibin

This is a retelling of the story of Clytemnestra, a spectacularly audacious, violent, vengeful, lustful, and instantly compelling queen of Greek mythology and her children. In House of Names, Colm Tóibín brings a modern sensibility and language to an ancient classic, and gives this extraordinary character new life, so that we not only believe Clytemnestra’s thirst for revenge, but applaud it. Also available as an audiobook on CD.


Nonfiction

292.1308 Hay

Pandora’s Jar: Women in Greek Myths / Natalie Haynes

In Pandora’s Jar, Natalie Haynes turns the tables, putting the women of the Greek myths on an equal footing with the men. With wit, humor, and savvy, Haynes revolutionizes our understanding of epic poems, stories, and plays, resurrecting them from a woman’s perspective and tracing the origins of their mythic female characters. Pandora’s Jar brings nuance and care to the millennia-old myths and legends and asks the question: Why are we so quick to villainize these women in the first place—and so eager to accept the stories we’ve been told? Also available as an ebook and audiobook from Libby/OverDrive/hoopla.

398.2093 HIG

Greek Myths: A New Retelling / Charlotte Higgins

A brilliantly original, landmark retelling of Greek myths, recounted as if they were actual scenes being woven into textiles by the women who feature prominently in them—including Athena, Helen, Circe, and Penelope.