Monday, March 02, 2009

What should I be reading?

I have books on my bookshelf that I acquired because they were books I thought I should read. One of these is Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, another is The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins which I have been meaning to read since 6th Form biology.

I also have a book of Greek Myths and Legends. I bring this up because I was listening to one of Stephen Fry's podgrams in the car on the way to work and he mentioned King Midas. All I know is that he was cursed so that everything he touched turned to gold. However, there is another bit where he is given the ears of an ass but no-one knows because he always wears a cap to cover them. Only his barber knows and he is sworn to secrecy. Because the barber has to carry this secret, the only way he can let it out is by shouting into a hole in the ground "Midas has asses ears!" When reeds grow in the place where the hole is they start whispering "Midas has asses ears" and then the trees hear and the secret eventually gets around.

I wondered if this was the basis of the song Whispering Grass, because of the lines

"Whispering grass, don't tell the trees,
'Cos the trees don't need to know."

It makes me wonder what other gems I have missed that are the inspiration for everyday sayings or song lyrics. But where do you start with Greek Myths. Is there a logical order to read them in? Do I need to read the Iliad or Odyssey? Or shall I just dip into my Myths and Legends book? Any thoughts?


mooncalf said...

If you want an original text I'd really recommend Ovid's Metamorphoses.

It might be worth reading the Myths and Legends book in order just so that you learn who the main 'characters' are and how they're related. Once you're up on who's who in the world of myth and legend you can pretty much dip in wherever.

I love all that stuff and much more fun that Richard Dawkins!

kathryn said...

Just read your Greek Myths and Legends book while listening to the Inkspots singing Whispering Grass and enjoy