Reading List

Hellenic Polytheism in ancient Greece lacked an overarching priesthood or any sacred texts. Instead they had the myths and legends descended from a long history of oral tradition, the poems of Hesiod and Homer, the Homeric and Orphic Hymns, and the great works of their many poets, philosophers, and playwrights. Together these formed the theology, methodology, and religious practice of ancient Greece, and are the foundational texts for Hellenic Polytheism.

This list is by no means comprehensive. There are in fact thousands of works surviving from the Ancient Greeks. You may of course jump around between the sections at your own discretion, and would be advisable if you find yourself particularly interested in a certain topic or work. It should also be noted that these works will provide context for your praxis, but you don't need to read all of these, or even any of them, to identify as a Hellenic Polytheist or worship the gods.

In some instances I have recommended translations, however these are not required. You can find the recommended translations second-hand for a reasonable price, though there are versions available for nearly all of the primary works in the public domain (though generally these translations are a little more antiquated, outdated, or harder to read), but do what your circumstances allow. In general the Oxford and Penguin Classics editions are a good choice when you don't know which translation to get. I also highly recommend that if you find yourself struggling with a particular work, try a different translation. It can make all the difference.  


The following books are not required by any means, but are helpful for understanding and reconstructing ancient ritual practice and belief.


The poems are an essential source for Ancient Greek worship, belief, and love for the gods. You may wish to get individual copies of the Homeric and Orphic hymns as they are both religious, beautiful, and deeply moving, however a generalized collection containing the hymns (and other poems) has been provided in the list below. If you feel pulled towards poetry in general you may enjoy Sappho and Pindar, two of the most celebrated Lyric Poets of Ancient Greece.

For the poems it is advisable to go with a verse translation over a prose translation when available as these are closer to the originals (they are poems afterall), but prose may be easier reading if you find yourself struggling, or if you just want the gist. If at any point you find yourself wanting a copy of the original Greek, Loeb offers original Greek-English side by side translations for most of these works, though the English side-by-side tends to be a bit more dated than the recommended translations. 


Primary Texts


Stories bind us from the earliest days of survival sitting communally around the fire and telling tales about the universe and the gods who inhabit it. Poets were telling myths through a long oral tradition hundreds of years before Homer's epics were ever written down. You could even say that the old bards were the first historians, though concerned less with facts than spiritual truths. In fact, the mother of the Muses, whom the bards invoke at the start of each poem, is known as Mnemosyne (Memory).

The Ancient Greek mythic universe is a wide-stretching and intricately woven tapestry. While the myths aren't literal and are written by mortals for mortals with those mortal values of the times (patriarchy, enslavement, sexual assault, etc.), they also contain religious truths woven between the lines. Whether that is explaining cosmology (Hesiod's Theogony), giving explanation for religious rites (Homeric Hymn to Demeter) or custom (The Myth of Daphne and Apollon), recalling a tale of mythic history (The Iliad), a collection of folk tales (Aesop's Fables), or an account of the morals and values of the time (Antigone, The Oresteia, the myth of Tantalus), the myths are an essential and entertaining way to learn about and connect to the gods in their original cultural context.  

Modern Collections

The best thing you can do if you want to get into the myths is to gather a generalized understanding of the mythic universe as a whole rather than the individual myths themselves. While you should try if you can to read the originals eventually, as they will help to provide context for your praxis with the gods and honestly just make good reading, for the most part you really just need to understand the broad-strokes so you can understand the culture they come from. 

The most accessible way to do that is to read a collection, and once you've finished that, read another collection. That will give you an idea of how the myths can vary and have different origins or cosmologies for the gods and heroes. Ancient Greece was a big place, and not every region told the same versions. These collections can help you understand why the context for why and how myths are created and the various motivations of the poets is important to take into account when studying myth.

Primary Texts

Most of our myths come to us by way of Homer, Hesiod, Apollodorus, Apollonius of Rhodes, the Hymns, and Athenian Drama. The poems and dramas that could normally be listed here are reserved for the 'Poetry' and 'Theater' sections.


Theater developed out of religious performance rituals for Dionysos, and so Dionysos is considered the patron of theater.  Theater is also presided over by the Muses of Tragedy (Melpomene) and Comedy (Thalia). There was a long history of theater contests in the Ancient Greek world at religious festivals, and they're also a major source of the myths. In fact, most of the plays surviving today were first performed in competition at these festivals. Of more than 300 known tragedies only 30 have survived: 6 by Aeschylus, 7 by Sophocles, and 18 by Euripides, in addition to 11 comedies by Aristophanes, and a single satyr play also by Euripides. If you can get only one from the list below just pick your preference.  

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