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Bibliography of Classical Mythology (September 2023): Reception

By Scott Goins and Barbara H. Wyman


The influence and reception of mythology is an important and vast topic. Amaltea: Journal of Myth Criticism (mentioned above) often has special issues devoted to reception. Since 2016, there have been special issues on myth and science fiction, myth and women, myth and cinema in the twenty-first century, and myths in contemporary opera. Vanda Zajko and Helena Hoyle’s edited volume A Handbook to the Reception of Classical Mythology comprises fine essays on, for example, Greek and Roman mythography, the treatment of myths in various periods, theories of myth, and iconic themes and figures. For the visual arts, scholars will still wish to consult Jane Davidson Reid’s authoritative, lavishly illustrated Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300–1990s, which is thorough albeit dated. Malcolm Bull’s The Mirror of the Gods has chapters discussing how each of the major gods was artistically depicted in the Renaissance. More specialized is Luba Freedman’s excellent Classical Myths in Italian Renaissance Painting, in which she examines the Italian Renaissance fascination with mythology and traces the development of classical images within that art. In addition to covering the well-known pieces of art, Freedman explores the art of Italian villas. In English Mythography in Its European Context, 1500–1600, Anna-Maria Hartmann offers a scholarly account of the influence of classical mythology in the English Renaissance. She shows that during this period mythology was used in connection with a wide variety of literary topics, ranging from love to Neoplatonism, religion, and politics. Interweaving Myths in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, edited by Janice Valls-Russell, Agnès Lafont, and Charlotte Coffin, has many good essays on how Elizabethan authors used classical myths. Covering a broad perspective of the arts in the twentieth century is Theodore Ziolkowski’s Minos and the Moderns: Cretan Myth in Twentieth-Century Literature and Art.4

Several books have been written on mythology (or the classical world in general) in film. The most popular films and television series are listed in Cyrino and Gorton’s A Journey through Greek Mythology (discussed above). Patricia B. Salzman-Mitchell and Jean Alvares’s Classical Myth and Film in the New Millennium gives a good review of recent movies associated with myth. More general but still useful is Gideon Nisbet’s Ancient Greece in Film and Popular Culture, which considers non-mythical topics and includes television series and comics. Also not restricted to mythology, and revised only up to 2001, is Jon Solomon’s The Ancient World in the Cinema.5

On the theoretical side, Martin Winkler’s most recent major addition to his extensive scholarship on cinema and the ancient world is Classical Literature on Screen: Affinities of the Imagination. In it Winkler discusses several well-known (and some less-familiar) films, and seeks to locate aspects of film within the Greek traditions of literary criticism. Classical Myth on Screen, edited by Monica Cyrino and Meredith Safran, also treats the influence of myths on modern movies. Topics range from depictions of myth on screen to the influence of myth on movies not obviously related to the classics.

Readers interested in the influence of myth on modern fantasy will enjoy Classical Traditions in Modern Fantasy, an interesting and wide-ranging collection of essays edited by Brett Rogers and Benjamin Eldon Stevens. Though many of these essays treat classical literature in general rather than focusing specifically on mythology, there is a great deal of material relevant to mythology. For mythology in comics, there are Classics and Comics and its sequel, Son of Classics and Comics, both edited by George Kovacs and C. W. Marshall. These popular works include discussions of mythology in Wonder Woman, Japanese manga, and in the Asterix series, among many other subjects.

4. In the field of music, researchers will wish to consult Donald M. Poduska’s extensive list in “Classical Myth in Music.” The Classical World, 92.3 (1999).

5. Also covering the twentieth century is James J. Clauss’s article “A Course on Classical Mythology in Film.” Classical Journal 91.3 (1996).