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Bibliography of Classical Mythology (September 2023): General Works

By Scott Goins and Barbara H. Wyman

General Works

Among the most thorough and useful scholarly guides are The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology, edited by Roger Woodard, and A Companion to Greek Mythology, edited by Ken Dowden and Niall Livingstone. Both works include fine essays by well-known international scholars. Woodard’s collection is divided into three main sections based on sources and their interpretation, the social context of myths, and the reception of myth. Dowden and Livingstone’s book includes multiple, broad topics like the canon, myths in performance, influences on myths, and interpretations of myths. Woodard’s text tends to be more thorough in terms of sources and the reception of myths, whereas Dowden and Livingstone’s work is more complete in its examination of the interpretation of myth. Richard Buxton’s The Complete World of Greek Mythology is also thorough and scholarly, and provides a consistent viewpoint, as befits the work of a well-known scholar. For a treatment of the ancient deities, Philip Matyszak’s The Gods and Goddesses of Greece and Rome is readable and has lavish illustrations. Much more specialized is The Gods of Ancient Greece: Identities and Transformation, a volume of scholarly essays edited by Jan Bremmer and Andrew Erskine. This wide-ranging book includes essays by well-known classicists and covers a multitude of topics relating to the gods. The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Mythography, edited by R. Scott Smith and Stephen Trzaskoma, is somewhat specialized, focusing especially on individual writers of myth in the ancient world and seeking to establish their various aims in writing. The work also includes essays on myth and the visual arts from classical antiquity. Readers seeking a brief treatment of myths will appreciate Barry Powell’s A Short Introduction to Classical Myth, which discusses many aspects of mythology, including its development, cultural context, and relationship to religion in the ancient world. Helen Morales’s Classical Mythology: A Very Short Introduction also examines myth with regard to broader themes, such as psychology, ritual, philosophy, and literature.

Numerous volumes offer retellings of Greek myth for the general reader, although no work seems poised to attain the status of Edith Hamilton’s classic Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, which remains respected some eighty years after its first publication. Recent fine resources include Sarah Iles Johnston’s Gods and Mortals: Ancient Greek Myths for Modern Readers and Richard Martin’s Myths of the Ancient Greeks. Unlike earlier summarizers of myth, Johnston intentionally highlights the violence and trauma of rape stories in mythology, which have often been glossed over in the original Greek and Latin texts, as well as in summaries. The three titles in Stephen Fry’s popular “Greek Myths” series offer retellings of myths in a modern, chatty, and humorous style. The first book in the series, Mythos: The Greek Myths Reimagined, deals mostly with creation and the birth and nature of the gods. The second, Heroes: The Greek Myths Reimagined, treats the Greek heroes and their exploits. The third title, Troy: The Greek Myths Reimagined, recounts the Trojan War in an energetic and clever way.

Works Cited