Cover image for Ancient voices
Ancient voices
Hovey, Kate.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Margaret McElderry Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
40 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Twenty-three poems give voice to a variety of goddesses, gods, and mortals from Greek and Roman mythology.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3558.O8749 A82 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



May the voices of the gods be heard! In this innovative and spellbinding collection of poems, the gods of Mount Olympus, the sea, the underworld, and the forest come alive with their unique and powerful voices. From Zeus, the supreme ruler of the gods, and Ganymede, the gods' cupbearer, to the forest nymph Echo and Hestia, goddess of the hearth, the characters of ancient Greek and Roman mythology form a rich and vibrant tapestry. Beautifully realized in Kate Hovey's mesmerizing poetry and Murray Kimber's stunning illustrations, these twenty-three poems illuminate the personalities of the gods and the humor and tragedy of their stories.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-10. With settings from Mount Olympus to the underworld, these lyrical poems and dramatic picture-book-size illustrations humanize the Greek myths with flashes of contemporary realism. A sensual Aphrodite resents the pale armless image of her in the Venus de Milo statue. A macho Ares rides a motorcycle in a cloud of smoke. Yet the gods, villains, and heroes remain powerful and mysterious. The Underworld section, its illustrations shadowed with charcoal, is the most dramatic, starting with the abduction of Persephone and then telling her story of eternal loss and renewal from the individual viewpoints of Hades, Persephone herself, and her anguished mother, Demeter. Students who know the classical myths will get the most from this fresh take on the old stories, but detailed informal notes at the end introduce the characters and places to those who need more background. In fact, the note about Echo is as beautiful as the poem. Far from the usual casual prose-poem narratives, the poetry here is both intense and accessible, with unobtrusive rhyme that adds to the music of the lines. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Young readers may need a brush-up course in Greek mythology to make sense of these lyrical narrative poems about the ancient gods and goddesses, which also make use of fairly complex literary structure and vocabulary. The topics Hovey (Arachne Speaks) explores are often emotionally sophisticated, too. In "Hera's Lament," Hera stares down menacingly at Zeus from the clouds ("why did I marry this/ braying fool?"), and her spiderweb-like jewelry and scathing gaze are both eerie and arresting. "Hephaestus's Fall" describes the enmity between Zeus and Hera ("bound by their bitterness, married to pain"), who are shown in a remarkable accompanying painting with their teeth bared, hurling cloud-like "bolts of thunder" from their screaming mouths. Kimber (The Wolf of Gubbio) erases time, freely interweaving modern and ancient imagery. The Muses appear in a flowery cloud as an African-American gospel choir; Ares rides a motorcycle. Nonetheless, the overall style is cohesive, powerful and striking. The book's four sections and 23 poems seem to reflect the author's specific interests rather than offering a comprehensive collection of major characters in Greek mythology. Three of the four poems in the section "The Underworld," for example, focus on Persephone. Detailed endnotes will satisfy readers' curiosity while pointing the way for further exploration. Kimber's stylish charcoal and acrylic paintings match the predominantly dark themes Hovey's accomplished poems explore, which may be most appreciated by a young adult audience. Ages 8-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Similar in concept and tone to Hovey's Arachne Speaks (McElderry, 2001), this slim compendium follows an ambitious scheme. Ganymede, young cupbearer to Zeus, leads other voices in poetic accounts of their lives on Mount Olympus, under the sea, in the underworld, and in the forest. Each region is introduced with a brief quote from classical literature. Ganymede speaks three of the poems set on Olympus and then just once in each of the other settings, his melancholy comments lamenting his entrapment in immortality. Hovey uses variable rhyme patterns as different mythical characters reflect on their experience in the Olympian pantheon. She imagines well their points of view, but most readers will need to consult the helpful glossary to understand the identities and references of the speakers. Kimber's handsome, sometimes hard-edged mixed-media paintings have elements of cubism and surrealism and aptly suggest the larger-than-life and less-than-pleasant nature of the characters. Some of the artist's choices convey a modern, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, interpretation. The nine muses of Olympus are robed as an African-American gospel choir, Ares roars along on a mammoth motorcycle, Aphrodite is a mean-looking disco babe, and Hades is quite Dickensian. Elusive and evocative, this title will interest readers who have studied and enjoyed Greek mythology.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.