General, Introductory, and Reference Works
Origins & Receptions
Myth in Greek Art
Above: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770), Bacchus and Ariadne (ca.1740). Source/creator: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
License: CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
Articles from the
Oxford Classical Dictionary
mythology | mythographers | aetiology | cults and myths: Aetolian | Arcadian | Attic | Corinthian | Cretan | Messenian | Rhodian
General, Introductory, and Reference Works
With 395 original articles written by leading scholars, this book is a remarkable encounter with the mythologies of cultures past and present—the web of stories, traditions, rituals, practices, beliefs, divine figures, sacred objects, and great themes that define civilization. Drawing on a breathtaking array of sources, from the history of religions to anthropology, archaeology, literature, and linguistics, the contributors define a new approach to the understanding of myth in society. For this first English-language edition, the articles have been rearranged by region or culture. Together they comprise an exceptionally broad, stimulating introduction to the religious and mythical traditions of the world—from the idea of death in Ancient Egypt to the ideology of nationalism in modern Europe. Greeks and Romans are here in force, naturally, but so too are the Bantu, Dinka, and Dogon of Africa and the Armenians, Mongols, and Turks of Asia. Readers of this work will discover a wealth of fresh primary sources on such little known traditions as those of the Vietnamese—and bold, provocative new interpretations of well-studied traditions, such as those of classical Greece.
Greek Mythology: An Introduction
Fritz Graf, trans. Thomas Marier, 1993
This revised translation of Fritz Graf's highly acclaimed introduction to Greek mythology offers a chronological account of the principal Greek myths that appear in the surviving literary and artistic sources and concurrently documents the history of interpretation of Greek mythology from the 17th century to the present. First surveying the various definitions of myth that have been advanced, Graf proceeds to examine topics such as the relationship between Greek myths and epic poetry, the connection between particular myths and shrines or holy festivals, the use of myth in Greek song and tragedy, and the uses and interpretations of myth by philosophers and allegorists.
The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology
This new edition is a completely rewritten and revised version of Rose's original, seminal, text. Adding a huge amount of new material, Robin Hard incorporates the results of the latest research into his authoritative accounts of all the gods and heroes. The narrative framework of the book includes helpful signposting so that the book can be used as work of reference, and alongside the narrative chapters, it includes full documentation of the ancient sources, maps, and genealogical tables. Illustrated throughout with numerous photographs and line drawings, it will remain the definitive account of ancient Greek mythology for generations to come.
The Genealogy of Greek Mythology
A stunning, fully illustrated and comprehensively annotated genealogical map of the universe of Greek myth, presented in a unique, easy-to-use format. From the television hit Xena, to the Oscar-winning box-office smash Gladiator and to Broadway's Medea, the sagas of antiquity continue to attract avid audiences. Now the lore and legend of Ancient Greece have been distilled into one spectacularly illustrated resource. This book brings to life the complete cast of characters, mortal and mythic alike. Accompanied by more than 125 captivating full-color photographs of art and artifacts, the narratives and bloodlines mapped out in The Genealogy of Greek Mythology are wonderfully user friendly. Beginning with Chaos-the period before the Earth was born-Vanessa James traces the succession of gods and titans through to the first generations of historically verifiable people of the ancient Aegean. Packed with over 3,000 entries, this incredibly detailed resource also features a star chart, regional map, and who's who guide to the Olympian gods. Each side of the book's unique accordion-paged design can be perused section-by-section or fanned out to reveal the entire genealogy in more than seventeen elegant feet.
Below: Master of the Campana Cassoni, The Cretan Legend: The Labyrinth (ca. 1510-15). Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Creator: Sailko. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.
Jenny March’s acclaimed Dictionary of Classical Mythology, first published in 1998 but long out of print, has been extensively revised and expanded including a completely new set of beautiful line-drawing illustrations for this Oxbow edition. It is a comprehensive A–Z guide to Greek and Roman mythology. All major myths, legends and fables are here, including gods and goddesses, heroes and villains, dangerous women, legendary creatures and monsters. Characters such as Achilles and Odysseus have extensive entries, as do epic journeys and heroic quests, like that of Jason and the Argonauts to win the Golden Fleece, all alongside a plethora of information on the creation of the cosmos, the many metamorphoses of gods and humans, and the Trojan War, plus more minor figures – nymphs, seers, kings, rivers, to name but a few. In this superbly authoritative work the myths are brilliantly retold, along with any major variants, and with extensive translations from ancient authors that give life to the narratives and a sense of the vibrant cultures that shaped the development of classical myth. The 172 illustrations give visual immediacy to the words, by showing how ancient artists perceived their gods and heroes. The impact of myths on ancient art is also explored, as is and their influence in the post-classical arts, emphasizing the ongoing inspiration afforded by the ancient myths.
This unique work is the first comprehensive genealogical chart of virtually all of the named figures of Greek mythology that can be shown to be related. The product of more than 35 years of research, the book includes a 72-page continuous chart that links 3,673 named figures into a single "family tree" spanning 20 generations and an 80-page index that provides a citation to an authoritative ancient source for each relationship. The genealogy begins with Chaos and--based on works by Hesiod, Homer, Aeschylus, Pindar, Bacchylides, Herodotus, Euripides, Apollodorus, Pausanias, Diodorus Siculus, and scores of other ancient poets, playwrights, and writers--continues down through the Titans, the gods, legendary kings, and such well-known figures of literature as Odysseus, Jason, Antigone, and Helen of Troy, as well as hundreds of obscure figures, including their spouses, paramours, children, and descendants. The chart shows all of the known relationships--parental, marital, and extramarital--of each figure. In addition to furnishing a citation for each relationship, the index provides brief descriptive information and indicates the quadrant and page of the continuous chart where the relationship is depicted. A two-page master chart illustrates the relationships among the principal figures.
Drawn from the acclaimed Oxford Classical Dictionary, this book offers a fully rounded guide to all aspects of religious life and thought in ancient Greece and Rome. Highly authoritative, this new book covers not only Greek mythologies and Roman festivals, but also devotes attention to topics such as Greek and Roman religious places, monuments, authors and texts, religious organization, imagery, divination, astrology, and magic. Unlike many other references on ancient Greece and Rome, the dictionary also includes many entries on Judaism and Christianity in the classical world. The editors, area advisors for the third edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary, have selected, revised, edited, and in some instances completely recast a large number of entries from the OCD to create this handy and accessible reference. The main text is supplemented by an important introductory essay providing overviews of mythology, religious pluralism in the ancient world, and the reception of myths from antiquity to the present. In addition to a helpful thematic index and extensive cross-references, the text is further supported by three maps and six genealogies. Backed by the authority and scholarly rigor of the renowned Oxford Classical Dictionary, this work is a valuable A-Z reference and is as ideal a tool for students and teachers of ancient history as it is for all classics lovers.
A unique resource, this book is essential reading for understanding not only Greek myth, but also its enormous impact on art, architecture, literature, politics and philosophy across the ages. More than a compendium of isolated facts, 'The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology' is thoughtfully composed by a team of international experts who highlight important themes in three sections. The first part examines oral and written Greek mythology and the uses of these myths from the epic poetry of the eighth century BC to the mythographic catalogs of the early centuries AD. The second section looks at the relationship between ancient Greek myth and Greek culture and investigates the Roman appropriation of the Greek mythic tradition. Section three follows the reception of Greek myth from the Middle Ages to modernity, taking in such factors as feminist scholarship, cinema and literature. Important for its reach and breadth, its integrated approach and its up-to-date treatment, this work is fundamental for anyone seeking a broader understanding of the myths and their influence on western tradition.
Below: The people thank Theseus after slaying the Minotaur; Roman fresco from the Villa of M. Gavius Rufus in Pompeii, ca. 45-79 CE.
Source: Wikimedia Commons. Creator: Jebulon. License: Public domain.
Origins and Receptions
Enraged: Why Violent Times Need Ancient Greek Myths
Millennia ago, Greek myths exposed the dangers of violent rage and the need for empathy and self-restraint. Homer’s Iliad, Euripides’ Hecuba, and Sophocles’ Ajax show that anger and vengeance destroy perpetrators and victims alike. Composed before and during the ancient Greeks’ groundbreaking movement away from autocracy toward more inclusive political participation, these stories offer guidelines for modern efforts to create and maintain civil societies. Emily Katz Anhalt reveals how these three masterworks of classical Greek literature can teach us, as they taught the ancient Greeks, to recognize violent revenge as a marker of illogical thinking and poor leadership. These time-honored texts emphasize the costs of our dangerous penchant for glorifying violent rage and those who would indulge in it. By promoting compassion, rational thought, and debate, Greek myths help to arm us against the tyrants we might serve and the tyrants we might become.
Ancient Greek Myth in World Fiction since 1989 explores the diverse ways that contemporary world fiction has engaged with ancient Greek myth. Whether as a framing device, or a filter, or via resonances and parallels, Greek myth has proven fruitful for many writers of fiction since the end of the Cold War. This volume examines the varied ways that writers from around the world have turned to classical antiquity to articulate their own contemporary concerns. Featuring contributions by an international group of scholars from a number of disciplines, the volume offers a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary approach to contemporary literature from around the world. Analysing a range of significant authors and works, not usually brought together in one place, the book introduces readers to some less-familiar fiction, while demonstrating the central place that classical literature can claim in the global literary curriculum of the third millennium. The modern fiction covered is as varied as the acclaimed North American television series The Wire, contemporary Arab fiction, the Japanese novels of Haruki Murakami and the works of New Zealand's foremost Maori writer, Witi Ihimaera.
The Survival of the Pagan Gods: The Mythological Tradition and Its Place in Renaissance Humanism and Art
Jean Seznec, trans. Barbara F. Sessions, 1995
The gods of Olympus died with the advent of Christianity--or so we have been taught to believe. But how are we to account for their tremendous popularity during the Renaissance? This illustrated book, now reprinted in a new, larger paperback format, offers the general reader first a discussion of mythology in late antiquity and the Middle Ages, and then a multifaceted look at the far-reaching role played by mythology in Renaissance intellectual and emotional life.
The Ancient World in the Cinema
This entertaining and useful book provides a comprehensive survey of films about the ancient world, from The Last Days of Pompeii to Gladiator. Jon Solomon catalogues, describes, and evaluates films set in ancient Greece and Rome, films about Greek and Roman history and mythology, films of the Old and New Testaments, films set in ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Persia, films of ancient tragedies, comic films set in the ancient world, and more. The book has been updated to include feature films and made- for-television movies produced in the past two decades. More than two hundred photographs illustrate both the films themselves and the ancient sources from which their imagery derives.
The Indo-Europeans, speakers of the prehistoric parent language from which most European and some Asiatic languages are descended, most probably lived on the Eurasian steppes some five or six thousand years ago. Martin West investigates their traditional mythologies, religions, and poetries, and points to elements of common heritage. In The East Face of Helicon (1997), West showed the extent to which Homeric and other early Greek poetry was influenced by Near Eastern traditions, mainly non-Indo-European. His new book presents a foil to that work by identifying elements of more ancient, Indo-European heritage in the Greek material. Topics covered include the status of poets and poetry in Indo-European societies; meter, style, and diction; gods and other supernatural beings, from Father Sky and Mother Earth to the Sun-god and his beautiful daughter, the Thunder-god and other elemental deities, and earthly orders such as Nymphs and Elves; the forms of hymns, prayers, and incantations; conceptions about the world, its origin, mankind, death, and fate; the ideology of fame and of immortalization through poetry; the typology of the king and the hero; the hero as warrior, and the conventions of battle narrative.
Odilon Redon (1840-1916), The Chariot of Apollo (1905-1916). Source/creator: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
License: CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
Myth in Greek Art
Art and Myth in Ancient Greece
Thomas H. Carpenter, 2nd ed. 2021
The ancient Greeks recorded their mythology on vase paintings, engraved gems, and bronze and stone sculptures, offering depictions that often predate any references to the myths in literature or recount alternative, unfamiliar versions of these tales. In some cases, visual art provides our only evidence of these myths, as there are no surviving accounts in ancient Greek literature of stories such as the Fall of Troy or Theseus and the Minotaur. This book is a comprehensive survey of myth as it appears in Greek art. This classic volume has been updated with text and full-color images of more than three hundred scenes from Greek sculptures, vases, and gems. Aiding in the identification of mythological scenes and explaining chronological developments in style and subject matter, this book is an essential reference for anyone interested in the art, drama, poetry, or religion of ancient Greece.
Classical Mythology: Images and Insights
Stephen Harris & Gloria Platzner, 6th ed. 2011
This work grew out of the authors’ many years of teaching Greek and Roman myth to undergraduates at California State University, Sacramento. Unique among textbooks on this topic, the book approaches the study of myths through complete works of Greco-Roman literature, including six complete Greek dramas and generous excerpts from the narratives of Homer, Hesiod, Virgil, and Ovid, and through carefully chosen examples of classical works of art, both painting and sculpture. Combining literary masterpieces with the visual arts, this integrative approach offers readers a comprehensive experience with both cognitive and aesthetic appeal.
Interpreting the Images of Greek Myths
Klaus Junker, trans. Annemarie Künzl-Snodgrass & Anthony Snodgrass, 2011
From the age of Homer until late antiquity the culture of ancient Greece and Rome was permeated by images of Greek myths. Gods and heroes were represented as statues, on vase and wall paintings, on temples, on sarcophagi as well as in other media. This book provides a concise introduction to the interpretation of the images of Greek myths. Its main aim is to make the pictorial versions of the myths comprehensible on their own terms. Ancient artists were well aware of the potential - but also the limitations - of these 'silent' images and of the strategies that made them 'speak' to the audience/viewer. The book explains the theoretical and methodological issues at stake and discusses in detail a number of case studies. It will be useful and stimulating for all advanced undergraduate and gradute students taking courses and for all scholars with an interest in classical mythology and ancient art.
Myth into Art: Poet and Painter in Classical Greece
This work is a comparative study of mythological narrative in Greek poetry and the visual arts. Thirty of the major myths are surveyed, focusing on Homer, lyric poetry and Attic tragedy. On the artistic side, the emphasis is on Athenian and South Italian vases. The book offers undergraduate students an introduction both to mythology and to the use of visual sources in the study of Greek myth.
Images of Myths in Classical Antiquity
Stories take time to tell; Greek and Roman artists had to convey them in static images. How did they go about it? How could they ensure that their scenes would be recognized? What problems did they have? How did they solve them? This generously illustrated book explores the ways classical artists portrayed a variety of myths. It explains how formulas were devised for certain stories; how these inventions could be adapted, developed and even transferred to other myths; how one myth could be distinguished from another; what links there were with daily life and historical propaganda; the influence of changing tastes, and problems still outstanding. Examples are drawn from a wide range of media--vases, murals, mosaics, sarcophagi, sculpture--used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The myths are mostly those that are also easily recognized in later works of art. No previous knowledge of the subject is assumed, all examples are illustrated and all names, terms and concepts are fully explained.
Lucas Cranach the Elder (ca. 1472-1553), The Judgment of Paris (detail; ca. 1528). Source/creator: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
License: CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.