Biblical and Classical Myths: The Mythological Framework of Western Culture / Edition 2

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In the 1970s and 80s, Northrop Frye and Jay Macpherson co-taught a very influential course at the University of Toronto's Victoria College on the history of Western mythology - Frye focusing on the biblical myths; Macpherson on the classical. Biblical and Classical Myths recreates the thought behind that course, with Frye's lectures - unpublished until very recently - supplemented by Macpherson's popular 1962 textbook on classical mythology, Four Ages: The Classical Myths.

Frye's lectures on the Bible make up the first half of the book. He expounds on an array of topics, including translations of the bible, sexual imagery, pastoral and agricultural imagery, and law and revolution in the bible. Four Ages makes up the second half. Macpherson narrates the major classical myths from stories of creation to the myths' survival in later European traditions.

By complementing the biblical tradition with the classical, this volume imparts a comprehensive understanding of western mythology. With a preface by Alvin Lee, general editor of the Collected Works of Northrop Frye, Biblical and Classical Myths is an essential volume and represents a unique achievement in scholarship.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802086952
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Series: Frye Studies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 500
  • Sales rank: 1,257,970
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Northrop Frye (1912-1991) was one of the twentieth century's most influential English scholars and literary critics. Northrop Frye was a professor in the Department of English at Victoria University in the University of Toronto from 1939 until his death. His works include Words with Power and Anatomy of Criticism.

Jay Macpherson is a professor emeritus in the Department of English at Victoria College, University of Toronto.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Combined Edition by Alvin A. Lee

Symbolism in the Bible

Foreword by Robert D. Denham

  1. An Approach to the Bible and Translations of the Bible
  2. The Shape of the Bible
  3. Images of Paradise: Trees and Water
  4. Parody and Manifest Demonic: Trees and Water
  5. Sexual Imagery: The Bride and the Bridegroom; The Great Whore and the Forgiven Harlot
  6. Pastoral and Agricultural Imagery
  7. The World of Angels; Leviathan, Dragons, and the Antichrist
  8. Demonic Parodies and the Hero from across the Sea
  9. The Double Mirror: Exodus and Gospel
  10. The Metaphor of Kingship
  11. King, Priest, and Prophet
  12. The Question of Primogeniture
  13. Genesis: In the Beginning
  14. Genesis: Creating the Sexes; Exodus: A Revolutionary Heritage
  15. Law: Ordering a Society
  16. Law and Revolution; Wisdom: The Proverb
  17. Wisdom: Playing before God; Ecclesiastes: Vanity of Vanities
  18. Job: A Test
  19. Job and the Question of Tragedy
  20. Job and Restored Humanity
  21. The Language of Proclamation: Style and Rhythm in the Bible; The Gospel: Rewriting the Commandments
  22. Revelation: Removing the Veil
  23. Revelation: After the Ego Disappears
  24. The Language of Love
  • Maps
  • The Bible and Further Readings
  • Note on the Illustrations
  • Notes

Four Ages: The Classical Myths



  1. 1. In The Beginning
    • The Creation / The Golden Age / War in Heaven / The Reign of Zeus / Prometheus / Pandora's Box / Deucalion's Flood / Phaethon
  2. II. Spring and Winter
    • Demeter and Persephone / Adonis / Hyacinthus / Narcissus / Orpheus
  3. III. Loves of the Gods and Metamorphoses
    • Loves of Zeus: Callisto, Io / Pan and Syrinx / Apollo and Daphne / Clytie / Endymion / Arachne / Procne and Philomela / Midas' Touch / Ceyx and Alcyone / Nisus and Scylla / Philemon and Baucis
  4. IV. The Heroes
    • Perseus / The Labours of Heracles / Jason and the Golden Fleece / Bellerophon and Pegasus / Theseus
  5. V. The Royal House of Thebes
    • The Children of Agenor / Zeus and Semele / Ino and Athamas / Pentheus / Actaeon / Oedipus
  6. VI. The Tale of Troy
    • The Apple of Discord / The War / The Fall of the City / The Returns / The Return of Menelaus / The Return of Agamemnon / The Return of Aeneas / The Return of Odysseus
  7. VII. Cupid and Psyche
  8. VIII. Conclusion: The Passing and Afterlife of the Gods
  • Family Trees
  • Mythology-History Chart
  • Sources of Quotations
  • Maps
  • Suggestions for Further Reading
  • Note on the Illustrations
  • Note on Classical Names
  • Notes

Pronouncing and Descriptive Index of Classical Names

Index of Biblical Subjects and Names

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