Basic Reading List

This list is being developed primarily as a basic reading list for the clergy of Thiasos Olympikos; however, it may serve also as a useful guide to any person seeking to pursue an Hellenic Polytheistic religious path.


I will attempt, where there is more than one edition, to suggest prefered translations. It should go without saying that the highest preference would be to read the material in the original languge: but if we were all to wait until we had mastered the Ancient Hellenic tongue, the Gods might have to wait a long time to be worshipped. And then, there are supplementary works of scholarship which have been written in neither English nor Hellenic. It is important for scholars to be able to read works in the original German and French, certainly, but for the practical purpose of religious activity, translations must often serve here as well.

As our website is connected with, I will attempt to provide links for preferred versions, so that those readers who have access to net shopping may purchase them directly if they wish.

As a last note in this introduction it should be stated that time tends to change everything. A translation which served well in the culture of twenty years ago may seem stale and dated today. Or, it may be that the use to which a translation is put may require characteristics different from those which were previously useful: most of what we deal with is poetic in nature, and nothing is so important (save accuracy) as the way the words flow from the mouth and onto the air and into the ear. Then there is the matter of scholarship, which is far from static. New things may be discovered, new insights achieved, and sometimes, new mistakes taken too seriously. For these reasons, this list must remain fluid. I do not anticipate a great many changes once it is set forth: but I am sure that changes will occur, and so I encourage you to check back and look over it every once in a while, just in case.

Some books are neither source material nor scholarship but, rather, a kind of required addendum, providing information which the priest or priestess will likely need in the course of practice but which are not part and parcel of the Hellenic background. Books on the occult and on magick are therefore included simply because people will come to the individual religious person with requests or concerns of this kind. Some basic texts are therefore provided, after the source and scholarship materials.

That much said, here is the List.


0: Argonautika 
Before Homer, before Hesiod, there was the story of the Voyage of the Argo: Jason's search for the Golden Fleece. We know the story is older because both Homer and Hesiod mention it, assuming it will be part of the everyday knowledge of the people hearing the tales.

It is therefore doubly sad that we do not have any of the early versions of the story.

What we do have is the version composed by Apollonius of Rhodes in the third Century B. C. E., at the cultural peak of the Ptolmaic Court in Alexandria; and a great many other works based on the saga: including the version by the early 'realist,' Diodorus Siculus, who reduces the whole mythological substance to tedious commonplace and robs it of the stuff which made it immortal.

There are several relevent texts in English for approaching the Argonautika, and I will list them here.

Amazon has, of late, been including less information on books than it did in the past; so some of these listings are bereft of important data. Still...

First is "Voyage of Argo." I don't know if it is a poetic or prose translation, or by whom. But here it is. The date given is 1959, so this may be the E. V. Rieu translation, which many think of very highly.

Voyage of Argo

Next is a prose translation by Richard Hunter, which in the sample given reads fairly well.

Jason and the Golden Fleece : (The...

There are two more books listed under Apollonius of Rhodes on Amazon, but so little information is provided that one cannot figure out just what they may be.

Some time in a physical, used bookstore seems to be in order, when I can get down to the City or Berkeley once again.

1: Aesop's Fables.

This is where it begins. This is wisdom so basic there is little room for argument. While many Pagan sects worry about the direction their children will take, the simple fables of Aesop teach and entertain at a level appropriate to both adults and children and do so in a manner condusive to Hellenic Polytheistic thought.

The only difficulty lies with the sheer number of translations available. In an attempt to find one or two which I could recommend I went to a local bookstore to examine what was there. I found two versions of the complete corpus: one in which the names of the Gods had been changed to the Roman forms, the other in which all the fables had been given titles borrowed from either the Bible or Shakespear. Without a familiarity with these outside sources, the titles made no sense whatsoever!

The recommendation of the moment is to go to your local bookstore and examine carefully what they have, to make sure it has not been bowdlerized. A used bookstore may help with the budget, but don't depend on it: even with so many different editions in print, the used bookstores I checked were all out. People like these stories and tend to hang on to them.

And details like names and titles are important.


Further Note:

In the pursuit of appropriate editions of the Fables I have just spent a couple of weeks surfing the net, going down to Berkeley, rummaging through bookstores, and so forth. The adventure has been... Well, an adventure. The result is a rather extensive column and a list of recommendations! Rather than post the whole thing here, I am providing a link to the Koinonia page, where I have posted the extensive story, along with links for purchase.

Click here to learn more about Aesop's Fables.


2: The Homeric Hymns

This one is easy. For years I used the Charles Boer translation, which was accessible and kind of 'hip.' In a sense it was the quintessence of Twentieth Century apologetics, as well as being a fairly accurate representation of the idea contained in the Hymns: it gave the feeling of colloquiality to them, which was of value in presenting them to a younger audience.

But then there appeared the completely wonderful translation by Apostolos N. Athanassakis and the Boer was relegated to the shelf containing other quaint artifacts of the late Twentieth Century.

I would be hard-pressed to find superlatives to describe the excellence of the Athanassakis translation. Suffice to say, in the all-important arena of public performance it rings out with beauty, power, and conviction. (As in all versions, it helps to try and pronounce the names with some semblance of correctness; but even if you don't, the words in English will carry you along.) I have been using it in ritual for the last couple of years and it works. My highest recommenation!

Here is a link by which you can buy it.

Order The Homeric Hymns Today! 


3: Hesiod: The Theogony, Works and Days, The Shield of Herakles

This one also is easy, because it is possible to translate these poems so badly that one revels in a good translation. I have one translation that reads with all the excitement of a telephone book from someplace in Wyoming. Next to it I have the splendid piece of poetry that is the Richmond Lattimore translation, and frankly, you wouldn't know they were the same thing at all. The Lattimore sings, both in the mind and on the voice.

--And, as of 28 March 2001, I have recommendations of a 1983 translation by non other than Apostolos Athanassakis, who has done the definitive Homeric Hymns which we recommend. I have not yet read this new version, but I have some confidence in the abilities of Athanassakis, so I am adding it to this list as a likely alternative to the Lattimore.


I make an additional recommendation with regard to reading Hesiod for the first time: read the Works and Days first, then the Theogony. Works and Days is a very human, very down to Earth piece of writing. It is fun, and it is full of really good advice. It's also kind of grumpy in a humorous sort of way. The Theogony is a more elevated work, but it suffers, even in Lattimore's splendid translation, from being, to a great degree, lists of genealogies of divine beings. I suspect it to be one of those works which, spoken in the original language, is triumphantly musical, but spoken in other languages loses something in translation: no mind, the information in it is vital, and in the Lattimore translation it is poetry rather than phone listings. The Shield of Herakles is a fascinating work, but it comes down to us in a less than complete version, which is frustrating. Still, it falls somewhere between the other two works in terms of style and content, and you shouldn't miss it for anything.

The Lattimore translation is, fortunately, still in print; and here is a link for buying it.

Order Hesiod, Translated by Richmond Lattimore Today! 

Order Hesiod, Translated by Apostolos Athanassakis Today! 



4: Homer, The Iliad

This, of course, is the heart of the matter. Without Homer it is likely we would not still be worshipping the Gods of Hellas. Neither would Western Literature as we know it exist. I do not think it puts too fine a point on it to say that everything since is built on the words of the blind poet of Chios.

It is therefore vital that one have a good translation, and we are fortunate in our times to have two.

The first which I will recommend is the 1951 translatioin by Richmond Lattimore. I have a gut level feeling that Lattimore ought to be cannonized as one of the patron saints of Hellenic Polytheism because he has made so much not only available in English, but beautiful and moving as well. (His translation of the New Testament is pretty good too!) Allow me to quote the opening of the Iliad:

"Sing, Goddess, the anger of Peleus' son Achileus,

and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaians,

hurled in their multitudes to the house of Hades strong souls

of heroes, but gave their bodies to the delicate feasting

of dogs, of all birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished

since that time when first there stood in division of conflict

Atreus' son the lord of men and brilliant Achileus."

The Lattimore translation can often be had in used book stores at a bargain price, but if you would like a nice new copy it is still print in paperback and here is a link:

Order The Iliad, Translated by Richmond Lattimore Today! 


More recently, Robert Fagles has done a translation that has received high praises from almost every quarter. I do not have it yet, and therefore have not read it; but I have read excerpts, and it seems also to be a marvelous job, with a certainly vitality that may be particularly appealing at the end of the ultra-violent Twentieth Century. Here is Fagles' version of the opening, a couple of lines shorter that the Lattimore version above because I don't have it handy. But compare, and see which you like.

"Rage-Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,

murderer, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,

hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls..."

Note that Fagels chooses to use the more common, Latinized spelling of the protagonist's name (Achilles instead of Achileus), which does make for a difference in pronunciation. In a work this size, however, I don't think that should stop you.

The Fagels translation is available in three editions, a hardback, a trade paperback, and a regular paperback. I will give links to all three. They are all very reasonably priced. --And it may be noted that the Iliad sells very, very well: way ahead of many 'best sellers,' I might note.

Order the Hardback of The Iliad, Translated by Robert Fagles Today! 

Order the Trade Paperback of The Iliad, Translated by Robert Fagles Today! 

Order the Popular Sized Paperback of The Iliad, Translated by Robert Fagles Today!


At the Christmas season in 2001 I went looking for gifts and found yet another new translation, this one copyrighted 1997, and by Stanley Lombardo. I haven't read it yet, but it has some beautiful maps of the action in the front. Here is the opening in Lombardo's translation:


Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage,

Black and Murderous, that cost the Greeks

Incalculable Pain, pitched countless souls

of Heros into Hades' dark,

And left their bodies to rot as feasts

For dogs and birds, as Zeus' will was done.

Begin with the clash between Agamemnon --

The Greek warlord -- and Godlike Achilles.



In addition to the three translations above there is the one by Fitzgerald, which I would not recommend. Though the words of Homer stand up very well after three thousand years, the translation of Fitzgeral after only a hundred seems as dry and dusty as an abandoned pulpit.

There is also the verse translation by Alexandere Pope, but the only current edition is a paperback selling for a ridiculous $125! It would be an easy one to memorize, but you would have to be Donald Trump to both afford it and have the time to commit it to memory.

And then, discovered in a used book store at Christmas in 2001, there is a very pleasant translation, albeit abridged, by non other than William Cullen Bryant. He calls the hero 'Ulysses,' but the little book has a fold-out map and was meant for students, and withal is not a bad job for the period; and still, remarkably, readable: the latter no doubt brought about by the translator being an excellent poet in his own right.

There are also some audio tapes, both very much abridged. The tape of the Lattimore translation has only three books on it, which is a shame considering that the performer is Anthony Quayle. The tape of the Fagels translation is three cassettes in duration, which is better but still abridged.

Of course, there is the complete audio version in Ancient Hellenic by Stephen Daitz, but that costs more than the Pope translation: though I have it on my Christmas list.

Oh, and one last thing. Despite the blurbs of people trying to sell things on the net, the Iliad is not the story of the Trojan War. It is the story of a very brief time in the ninth year of the Trojan War. Don't expect to read the story of the Choice of Paris, and don't expect to experience the Fall of Troy. Just expect the single greatest war story every written, and maybe the most realistic.

AND, on the last day of March of 2000, I encountered a brand new translation by Peter Meineck, which I believe was the basis for his stage presentation of The Iliad: Book One. It is s complete translation, but I didn't have the money to buy it. You might like this new one even better, so when you go shopping don't fail to take a look at this new one as well.

5: Homer: The Odyssey

If the new reader is surprized that Homer chose, in the Iliad, to write about a brief and painful time in a long and terrible war, nobody is surprized to find The Odyssey a story that spans decades. If The Iliad is the primal war story, then The Odyssey is the primal adventure tale, and as such it echoes thoughout all the imaginative literature, theater, and film created since. Interestingly enough, this adventure story, in which the hero is repeatedly seduced by a wide range of beautiful women (human and otherwise) is also the non-plus-ultra tale of marital fidelity.

I mean, how many books and films can you remember in which all the hero wants is to get back to his wife and kid? --That's Homer the Myth Maker, right there at the writer's shoulder, telling the basic story of the power of human love.

And, let me tell you now: every monster encountered on the page is not a Goddess displaced by an evil patriarchy. Sometimes monsters are only monsters. Monsters are there to scare you, not to make political points. Anybody who tells you otherwise has been to too many academic luncheons!

With The Odyssey our choice is once again clear, and the same. Lattimore or Fagles, with a third place going to Allen Mendelbaum's excellent verse translation and a fourth to Fitzgerald (if you really must). I will quote the opening in the Lattimore and Fagles and Mendelbaum versions, and you can choose.

Richmond Lattimore's version:

"Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven

far journeys, after he had sacked Troy's sacred citadel.

Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of,

many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea,

struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions."

The Lattimore translation can often be had in used book stores at a bargain price, but if you would like a nice new copy it is still print in paperback and here is a link:

Order The Odyssey, Translated by Richmond Lattimore Today! 


Robert Fagles' version:

"Sing to me of the man, Muse, the

man of twists and turns

driven time and again off course,

once he had plundered

the hallowed heights of Troy.

Many cities of men he saw and

learned their minds,

many pains he suffered, heartsick

on the open sea,

fighting to save his life and bring

his comrades home."

Order the Hardback of The Odyssey, Translated by Robert Fagles Today! 

Order the Trade Paperback of The Odyssey, Translated by Robert Fagles Today!


Allen Mandelbaum's version:

"Muse, tell me of the man of many wiles ,

the man who wandered many paths of exile

after he sacked Troy's sacred citadel.

He saw the cities -- mapped the minds -- of many;

and on the sea his spirit suffered every

adversity; to keep his life intact;

to bring his comrades back. In that last task

his will was firm and fast, and yet he failed;

he could not save his comrades. Fools, they foiled


With the Mandelbaum translation you have three choices, and one of them, though I have not experienced it, sounds delicious: an audio program, six tapes, 9 hours long, with Derek Jacobi doing the narration. I don't know whether it is possible to get the whole poem into nine hours, or whether it is abridged: but hearing Jacobi do Homer sounds great, and this is a good solution for those who either have problems with reading (such as those suffering from dislexia) or who would like to listen in the car, on the way to work, or while working around the house. And at $29.71, it is cheaper than the hardback! --Anyway, here are the three options of the Mandelbaum translation:

Order the Hardback of The Odyssey, Translated by Allen Mandelbaum Today! 

Order the Paperback of The Odyssey, Translated by Allen Mandelbaum Today! 

Order the Audio Cassettes of The Odyssey, Translated by Allen Mandelbaum and Read by Derek Jacobi Today!


And here, at Christmas, 2001, is the Stanley Lombardo version of the opening (again, with some great maps):

Speak, Memory --

Of the cunning hero

The wanderer, blown off course time and again,

After he plundered Troy's sacred heights.






 Books on Magick and the Occult


1: Simply put, I have not yet encountered a more useful, sensible, and no-nonsense introduction to the subject than Dion Fortune's Psychic Self-Defense. Hard-headed and practical, this is the book I always recommend to people who want to know something about the practice of magick and/or the occult. The only thing you need to know beforehand is that Ms. Fortune was working in a time and place where one simply had to put everything in terms of a Christian social ascendency; so everything in the book is carefully phrased so as not to offend the Anglican Church of England, which was the dominant force where she lived at the time of writing.

Other than that I can offer no criticism, and do recommend that you read it. --There will be a quiz! 

Order Dion Fortune's Psychic Self-Defense Today! 


2: As Thiasos Olympikos grew out of the High Priest's work with Men's Mysteries, hardly anything could be more appropriate or useful than the High Priest's book on the topic, which is now back in print. While there are great numbers of books dealing with Women's Mysteries (of greatly varying value), there are relatively few equivalent books for Men, and practically none written by anyone who has actually done the work. This addition to the list is being made as of 28 March 2001, and the link will take you to the website of the publisher, Xlibris, rather than to The procedure for ordering is the same, but the author will make a little more from a direct transaction. Or, you can copy down the ISBN number from the website and order through your local bookseller.

Order Blindfold on a Tightrope, by Ramfis S. Firethorn Today!