Monday, November 6, 2023

Divine Might - Natalie Haynes

A strong contender for one of my books of the year, I've used Haynes earlier 'Pandora's Jar' quite a bit to look things up - it's useful to have around when there are so very many retellings of Greek myths about and you're not sure how fanciful some of them are (also, do not necessarily trust the advice of very young colleagues who tell you a Persephone and Hades retelling is amazing, there's an unreasonably high chance it's going to turn out to be appallingly badly written smut). Much as I like Pandora's Jar though, I've never been inclined to sit and read it from cover to cover, or carry it around with me.

Divine Might is a further exploration of Greek goddesses in myth, and also into popular culture. It's funny, clever, and compelling. It persuaded me to watch Disney's Hercules - which at least has a happy ending, and the chapter on Hera is a masterclass in critical thinking. I really liked Haynes 'Stone Blind' which came out in paperback earlier this summer, but as good as that is and I bored everybody at work for a good two weeks telling them repeatedly how good it is, I like this book even more.

It's probably because only Natalie Haynes would sit down and compare the goddess Artemis to Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator and make it make sense. There's a Thames and Hudson series on Myths That Shape The Way We Think (volumes on Celtic, Norse, and Greek) which I also recommend, but good as they are they don't quite have Haynes humour, or perhaps what feels like her deep personal connection to these stories.  


  1. I'm not sure my pop culture knowledge is good enough to keep up with Hayes' comparisons, but this does sound very good. And anything that encourages a revisiting of Hercules should be encouraged.

    1. Well, I say pop culture - I must be of about an age with Haynes and I understand the a lot of the references so I assume pop culture - but to a 20 year old it's probably all antiquity now