An Interview with Louis Markos: The Myth Made Fact- Reading Greek and Roman Mythology through Christian Eyes-

Oct 21, 2020 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy

  1. Professor Markos, you have just finished yet another book about myths and mythology- first what got you interested in mythology?

As the grandson of four Greek immigrants, I have always loved Greek mythology. I not only loved the stories as stories, but I loved how those stories helped me to struggle with such big questions as why I am here and what is my purpose. I also loved myths that tried to explain the origins of things. Myths like Pandora’s Box and Prometheus stealing the fire helped to make sense of our world, which had such goodness in it and yet was so clearly broken.

2) Now what is it about Greek mythology? Seems we always come back to the Greeks?

Aside from being a person of Greek heritage, as a man of the Western world, I find in the great Greek myths the raw material of so many aspects of European and American culture. As a Christian, Greek mythology is also important because God chose to enter human history in a world that was very Greco-Roman and that was still wrestling with the issues raised by mythology.

3) Jason and the Argonauts- was this a big myth or was there any real person named Jason who set off exploring?

I think that Jason would be a legendary character rather than a pure myth. In that sense he is like Achilles or Odysseus or King Arthur: all figures that are probably based on some kind of historical fact, though they likely did not do all the deeds ascribed to them. Since Jason discovered the Golden Fleece along the southeast corner of the Black Sea, I tend to look at the Jason legend as one that embodies memories of immigration from west to east and east to west. Since the Black Sea was the breadbasket of Greece, and still is to a certain extent, the Golden Fleece may also have been the golden wheat that the Greeks needed to survive. Troy is located along the Dardanelles, and both Troy and the land of the Golden Fleece were certainly important in terms of trade in and out of the Black Sea.

4) Your latest book is subtitled “Reading Greek and Roman Mythology through Christian Eyes”. Why does it seem to be important to view mythology thru Christian eyes- and how would you describe Christian eyes?

I want to show that Christians who believe that the Bible is true but that mythology is fictional, can still learn real truths from Greek mythology. I want to move away from the idea that Christians can only learn real truths from the Bible. Yes, I believe that only the Bible is fully reliable, but that does not mean that Greek mythology is all lies.

God may only have spoken directly through the Bible, the prophets, and Jesus, but he still does speak through our conscience, through the created world, and through the dreams and desires of the pre-Christian people whose yearnings often found their way into myths.

5) The Iliad and the Odyssey- seem to be the two main books of classic Greek mythology- that have “stood the test of time”. Why do you think this is?

The Iliad and the Odyssey stand at the beginning of Western literature. The Iliad helps us to understand what it means to be mortal, and how we can deal with such things as death and grief. The Odyssey tells us about what it means to be a specific person, and why it is important to return to our home and our family, even when we are tempted to stay behind. We might also say the Iliad is the first great tragedy, with its focus on death and the fall of civilization, while the Odyssey is the first comedy, with its focus on reunions and family and the joys of the domestic hearth

6) Who publishes this book and where can people who love mythology get a copy of this book?

This book was published by Classical Academic Press (CAP), and I am proud to say that they have poured all of their resources into it, making it a book that is beautiful to look at and that is filled with all sorts of resources. It can be pre-ordered now on Amazon or through CAP at a special pre-publication discount. Let me also add that I produced with CAP an 18-lecture audio/video series that accompanies the book but in a different format. Here are the links for the book and the lecture series:

7) What have I neglected to ask?

What I would like to add is that this book can be used in many ways. It is a great book to read from beginning to end if you love mythology and want to wrestle with the ideas raised by the great myths. It also could be read as a devotional book, reading a chapter or two in the morning or evening and then meditating on it. It is also a great book to be used by teachers or students of all ages, and is particularly good for classical Christian schools and homeschoolers. Finally, because every chapter is filled with open-ended questions it is a great book to be used for either Bible study groups or book reading groups that like to learn about new things and new ideas. It really is a multi-faceted book.

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