Classical Myth / Edition 7

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Overview

Comprehensive and scholarly, this well-designed text presents Greek and Roman myths in a lively and easy-to-read manner. The material has been rearranged to make it easier to find and the new edition has been streamlined. It features fresh translations, numerous illustrations (ancient and modern) of classical myths and legends, and commentary that emphasizes the anthropological, historical, religious, sociological, and economic contexts in which the myths were told. It also provides a cultural context so that readers can see how mythology has influenced the world and how it continues to influence society today.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A text springing from a course taught at the U. of Wisconsin-Madison since around 1933. It surveys classical myth, and also the roots of Western culture, emphasizing the anthropological, historical, religious, sociological, and economic contexts in which the stories were told along with analysis and interpretation. New translations from the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Italian have been prepared for this volume by Herbert M. Howe. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205176076
  • Publisher: Longman
  • Publication date: 7/11/2011
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 7
  • Pages: 752
  • Sales rank: 132,112
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry B. Powell , after graduation from Berkeley and Harvard, taught at Northern Arizona University, then took a job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he taught for 34 years. He is a master of many languages, both ancient and modern, and for many years taught Egyptian philology and culture at Wisconsin, in addition to courses in Classics. His book Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet, which advanced the thesis that one man invented the Greek alphabet in order to record the poet Homer, has become a classic and changed the way we think about the origins of Western Culture. He has written many other books, including two novels and a book of poetry. His book Classical Myth, is the best-selling book on the topic, and is now in its seventh edition. His book Homer is the best-selling study of this author. The Greeks: History, Culture, and Society (second edition, with Ian Morris) is widely used in college classrooms. He is currently preparing a translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he and his wife Patricia enjoy the company of their children and grandchildren.

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Read an Excerpt

PREFACE:

PREFACE

What does our great historical hunger signify, our clutching about us of
countless cultures, our consuming desire for knowledge, if not the loss of
myth, of a mythic home, the mythic womb?
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, The Birth of Tragedy, 1872

The category "classical myth" exists more in the minds of contemporary teachers than it did in the ancient world itself, but it has nonetheless come to serve a useful pedagogical purpose. For some time now, courses bearing this or a similar title have been a vehicle for introducing college students to the cultures of the ancient Greeks and Romans, hence to the roots of Western civilization. Studying the myths of the ancients primarily through the literary works in which they have been preserved, students are exposed to important classical authors, as well as to stories and figures which have sustained interest and kindled imaginations throughout the history of Western culture.

The present text began as a modern introduction to classical myth, a comprehensive and flexible resource for college-level courses that would reflect the best recent scholarship in the field. The fact that the first and second editions were used in many such courses throughout North America, by instructors with different academic backgrounds teaching in a wide variety of educational settings, has been a gratifying confirmation of my sense that a book of this type was needed. In this third edition, I have made improvements to the book based on suggestions from instructors who have used the first two editions in their classes, as well as on my own experiencesin teaching with it. But the central goals of the book remain unchanged. I have again included a large number of translations from ancient literary sources, organized around mythical figures or themes. I have again provided substantial background information and interpretive commentary to accompany these selections. And again, in both the translations and the background material, I have sought to take account of the needs of today's students as well as of the many new perspectives on the ancient world opened up in recent years by scholars working in various areas of classical studies.

The first two editions were unique among texts in classical myth in the extent to which they emphasized the context in which the ancient stories were told. In this emphasis I believe I was reflecting the direction of much contemporary scholarship, and in the third edition I have once again sought to place the myths in their anthropological, historical, religious, sociological, and economic contexts. Where possible I have extended and improved the coverage of these topics. In this edition I have grouped the male and female gods in separate chapters, whereas earlier they were organized according to family relation. In this way it is possible more easily to explore issues of gender and sexual identity that have preoccupied commentators in recent years. In a new chapter, "An Introduction to Heroic Myth" (Chapter 12), I use the Mesopotamian story of Gilgamesh as a model for understanding the complex myths of heroes in Greece, whereas the earlier editions did not single out the topic of the "hero." The other chapters have been compressed and revised, and new comments on context have been added to the discussion of specific myths in various chapters.

The first and second editions were also unique in the emphasis they placed on the historical development of classical myth. Only when we see how myth changes over time, yet somehow remains the same, can we grasp its essence. For this reason I included in the first editions an extensive discussion of the Mesopotamian antecedents of classical myth, but in this edition I discuss such myths at the same time as their later expressions in classical civilization, so that their relation can be better understood.

In the third edition, as in the first two, I have included as many passages from ancient literary works as space permits. Many of these are from well-known sources, but I have not hesitated to present lesser-known passages rarely seen in books of this type, when that seemed appropriate. Whenever possible I have used Greek sources rather than Latin ones, but I have nonetheless included selections from Ovid's highly influential Latin retelling of the Greek myths when the myth is found in no other ancient literary source. The complete text of the Metamorphoses will form a natural, though not necessary, adjunct to this text, as will complete translations of Greek tragedies, or modern works which reflect ancient patterns of myth or similar concerns.

Most translations of these selections, which were prepared specifically for inclusion in this volume, are largely unchanged in this edition. Translations of most Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Italian sources were prepared by Herbert M. Howe; I did some of these, however, and am also responsible for translations of the Akkadian, Egyptian, and modern Greek passages. In our translations we have sought a modern idiom, unrhymed, with a regular beat in the poetic lines; poetry, then as now, has its own rules of expression, and the translator can only try to recreate in modern tongue thoughts and manners distant from our own. Those who wish to examine the original Greek and Latin sources should consult the exhaustive references given in Pierre Grimal, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Oxford, 1986) and in Keith Aldrich's translation and commentary on Apollodorus, The Library of Greek Mythology (Lawrence, Kansas, 1975).

I believe that ancient works of art can play a valuable role in helping students visualize mythical figures and events as the ancients themselves did, and therefore I have included many additional illustrations from classical sources: some one hundred ninety-seven reproductions of vase paintings, sculptural works, architectural monuments, and other works of art from the ancient and modern worlds.

Like the first two editions, the third stresses the importance of interpretation in the study of myth, though without relying exclusively on any one interpretive perspective. No single approach to interpretation can ever be adequate to the enormous range and complexity of classical myth. The subject of interpretation is briefly introduced in Chapter 1, and throughout the text I offer interpretive comments on individual myths as they are examined—comments that I know will be used as a basis as much for objection as for agreement. The subject of interpretation is dealt with most extensively, however, in Chapter 23, "Theories of Myth Interpretation." I am fully aware that some instructors will prefer to deal with theories of interpretation early on in the course, and even though this chapter is placed at the end of the book, it can be introduced at any point, without loss of coherence.

The third edition remains committed to the principle that when we study classical myth, we also study the roots of Western culture. Like the first two editions, therefore, it includes in most chapters one or more "Perspective" boxes that examine the uses of classical myth in the medieval, Renaissance, or modern periods. Many of the Perspectives incorporate excerpts from or reproductions of the literary and artistic works discussed. My intent is to help students see how stories and figures from classical myth were appropriated and interpreted at later stages of history, often for purposes very different from those of the ancient world itself.

The study of classical myth inevitably presents students with hundreds of new and unfamiliar names. To assist students with the pronunciation of these, I have provided an English pronunciation guide the first time each difficult name appears in the text. (The pronunciation guides are repeated in the index.) I have also used bold letters to highlight the names that are of greatest importance, those which one really ought to know to claim competence in the topic. These names are repeated in a list of important terms at the end of each chapter, with page numbers of where the term first appears. I leave names of lesser importance in ordinary type, though in many cases I give pronunciations for these as well. Finally, in the index I have included a capsule identification for important names.

This edition is accompanied by a Companion Website located at ...

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface

PART I Definitions and Background

1. The Nature of Myth

2. The Cultural Context of Classical Myth

3. The Development of Classical Myth

PART II Divine Myth

4. Myths of Creation: The Rise of Zeus

5. Myths of Creation: The Origins of Mortals

6. Myths of Zeus, His Wife Hera, and His Brother Poseidon

7. Myths of the Great God Apollo

8. Myths of Hermes, Pan, Hephaestus, Ares

9. Myths of the Female Deities

10. Myths of Fertility: Demeter and Related Myths

11. Myths of Fertility: Dionysus

12. Myths of Death: Encounters with the Underworld

PART III Legends

13. Gilgamesh: Introduction to Heroic Myth

14. Perseus and Myths of the Argive Plain

15. Heracles

16 Theseus and the Myths of Athens

17. The Myths of Crete

18. Oedipus and the Myths of Thebes

19. Jason and the Myths of Iolcus and Calydon

20. The Trojan War

21. The Fall of Troy and Its Aftermath

22. The Return of Odysseus

PART IV Roman Myth

23. Legends of Aeneas

24. Legends of Early Rome

PART V Interpretation

25. Theories of Myth Interpretation

Reference Charts

Chronology of the Ancient World

The Greek and Roman Pantheon

Index

PERSPECTIVES

1.1 The "Myth of Atlantis"

1.2 The Brothers Grimm

2 Frank Miller's 300

4.1 Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Children

4.2 The Biblical Creation Story

5.1 Kratos: God of War

5.2 Prometheus and the Romantics

6.1 The Three Graces

6.2 The Loves of Zeus in European Art (color insert)

7 Bernini’s Apollo and Daphnê

8 Pan and Pastoral Tradition

9 Venus: Images of Beauty in European Art (color insert)

10.1 Rossetti’s Proserpina Holding the Pomegranate

10.2 H. D.’s “Adonis”

11.1 Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadnê

11.2 Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy

12.1 Vampires

12.2 Michelangelo’s The Sibyl of Cumae

12.3 Dante’s Inferno

13 J. R. R. Tolkien’s Modern Hero in The Lord of the Rings

14.1 Vasari’s Perseus and Andromeda

14.2 Classical Myth and the Stars

15 Daumier’s Hercules in the Augean Stables

16 Boccaccio’s Misfortunes of Famous Men

17.1 Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson

17.2 Picasso’s Minotauromachia

17.3 Brueghel’s The Fall of Icarus

18 Gustave Moreau’s Oedipus and the Sphinx

19.1 Seneca’s Medea

19.2 Delacroix’s Médée

20.1 Yeats’s “Leda and the Swan”

20.2 The Beauty of Helen

21.1 The Trojan War in European Art (color insert)

21.2 Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida

22.1 Ulysses

22.2 The Legends of Odysseus in European Art (color insert)

22.3 Cavafy’s “Ithaca”

23 Aeneas, Augustus, and Mussolini

24.1 David’s Oath of the Horatii

24.2 The Lucretia of Rembrandt and Shakespeare

25 Apuleius’ Allegory of Cupid and Psychê

MAPS

I. The Ancient Mediterranean (inside front cover)

II. Southern and Central Greece, chapter 2

III. The Ancient Near East, chapter 3

IV. The Argive Plain, chapter 14

V. Heracles' Adventures in Greece, chapter 15

VI. Locations of Heracles' Deeds Abroad, chapter 15

VII. The Labors of Theseus, chapter 16

VIII. The Voyage of the Argo, chapter 19

IX. The Troad, chapter 20

X. Ancient Italy, chapter 23

XI. The Travels of Aeneas, chapter 23

XII. Imperial Rome, chapter 24

XIII. Greece, the Aegean, and Western Asia Minor (inside back cover)

CHARTS

CHART 3 Near Eastern Gods and Goddesses

CHART 4.1 The First Generation of Gods

CHART 4.2 The Offspring of Gaea and Uranus

CHART 4.3 The Offspring of Gaea and Pontus

CHART 4.4 Hittite and Greek Theogonies Compared

CHART 5 The Descent of the Greek Tribes from the Race of Titans

CHART 6.1 The Twelve Olympians

CHART 6.2 Zeus’s Divine Consorts and Their Children

CHART 14 The Descent of Perseus

CHART 15.1 The Descent of Heracles

CHART 15.2 Heracles' Wives and Offspring

CHART 16.1 Cecrops and His Descendants

CHART 16.2 The House of Erichthonius

CHART 17 The House of Crete

CHART 18 The House of Cadmus

CHART 19.1 The House of Aeolus

CHART 19.2 The House of Calydon

CHART 20.1 The House of Atreus

CHART 20.2 The House of Tyndareüs

CHART 20.3 The House of Troy

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Preface

PREFACE:

PREFACE

What does our great historical hunger signify, our clutching about us of
countless cultures, our consuming desire for knowledge, if not the loss of
myth, of a mythic home, the mythic womb?
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, The Birth of Tragedy, 1872

The category "classical myth" exists more in the minds of contemporary teachers than it did in the ancient world itself, but it has nonetheless come to serve a useful pedagogical purpose. For some time now, courses bearing this or a similar title have been a vehicle for introducing college students to the cultures of the ancient Greeks and Romans, hence to the roots of Western civilization. Studying the myths of the ancients primarily through the literary works in which they have been preserved, students are exposed to important classical authors, as well as to stories and figures which have sustained interest and kindled imaginations throughout the history of Western culture.

The present text began as a modern introduction to classical myth, a comprehensive and flexible resource for college-level courses that would reflect the best recent scholarship in the field. The fact that the first and second editions were used in many such courses throughout North America, by instructors with different academic backgrounds teaching in a wide variety of educational settings, has been a gratifying confirmation of my sense that a book of this type was needed. In this third edition, I have made improvements to the book based on suggestions from instructors who have used the first two editions in their classes, as well as on my ownexperiencesin teaching with it. But the central goals of the book remain unchanged. I have again included a large number of translations from ancient literary sources, organized around mythical figures or themes. I have again provided substantial background information and interpretive commentary to accompany these selections. And again, in both the translations and the background material, I have sought to take account of the needs of today's students as well as of the many new perspectives on the ancient world opened up in recent years by scholars working in various areas of classical studies.

The first two editions were unique among texts in classical myth in the extent to which they emphasized the context in which the ancient stories were told. In this emphasis I believe I was reflecting the direction of much contemporary scholarship, and in the third edition I have once again sought to place the myths in their anthropological, historical, religious, sociological, and economic contexts. Where possible I have extended and improved the coverage of these topics. In this edition I have grouped the male and female gods in separate chapters, whereas earlier they were organized according to family relation. In this way it is possible more easily to explore issues of gender and sexual identity that have preoccupied commentators in recent years. In a new chapter, "An Introduction to Heroic Myth" (Chapter 12), I use the Mesopotamian story of Gilgamesh as a model for understanding the complex myths of heroes in Greece, whereas the earlier editions did not single out the topic of the "hero." The other chapters have been compressed and revised, and new comments on context have been added to the discussion of specific myths in various chapters.

The first and second editions were also unique in the emphasis they placed on the historical development of classical myth. Only when we see how myth changes over time, yet somehow remains the same, can we grasp its essence. For this reason I included in the first editions an extensive discussion of the Mesopotamian antecedents of classical myth, but in this edition I discuss such myths at the same time as their later expressions in classical civilization, so that their relation can be better understood.

In the third edition, as in the first two, I have included as many passages from ancient literary works as space permits. Many of these are from well-known sources, but I have not hesitated to present lesser-known passages rarely seen in books of this type, when that seemed appropriate. Whenever possible I have used Greek sources rather than Latin ones, but I have nonetheless included selections from Ovid's highly influential Latin retelling of the Greek myths when the myth is found in no other ancient literary source. The complete text of the Metamorphoses will form a natural, though not necessary, adjunct to this text, as will complete translations of Greek tragedies, or modern works which reflect ancient patterns of myth or similar concerns.

Most translations of these selections, which were prepared specifically for inclusion in this volume, are largely unchanged in this edition. Translations of most Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Italian sources were prepared by Herbert M. Howe; I did some of these, however, and am also responsible for translations of the Akkadian, Egyptian, and modern Greek passages. In our translations we have sought a modern idiom, unrhymed, with a regular beat in the poetic lines; poetry, then as now, has its own rules of expression, and the translator can only try to recreate in modern tongue thoughts and manners distant from our own. Those who wish to examine the original Greek and Latin sources should consult the exhaustive references given in Pierre Grimal, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Oxford, 1986) and in Keith Aldrich's translation and commentary on Apollodorus, The Library of Greek Mythology (Lawrence, Kansas, 1975).

I believe that ancient works of art can play a valuable role in helping students visualize mythical figures and events as the ancients themselves did, and therefore I have included many additional illustrations from classical sources: some one hundred ninety-seven reproductions of vase paintings, sculptural works, architectural monuments, and other works of art from the ancient and modern worlds.

Like the first two editions, the third stresses the importance of interpretation in the study of myth, though without relying exclusively on any one interpretive perspective. No single approach to interpretation can ever be adequate to the enormous range and complexity of classical myth. The subject of interpretation is briefly introduced in Chapter 1, and throughout the text I offer interpretive comments on individual myths as they are examined—comments that I know will be used as a basis as much for objection as for agreement. The subject of interpretation is dealt with most extensively, however, in Chapter 23, "Theories of Myth Interpretation." I am fully aware that some instructors will prefer to deal with theories of interpretation early on in the course, and even though this chapter is placed at the end of the book, it can be introduced at any point, without loss of coherence.

The third edition remains committed to the principle that when we study classical myth, we also study the roots of Western culture. Like the first two editions, therefore, it includes in most chapters one or more "Perspective" boxes that examine the uses of classical myth in the medieval, Renaissance, or modern periods. Many of the Perspectives incorporate excerpts from or reproductions of the literary and artistic works discussed. My intent is to help students see how stories and figures from classical myth were appropriated and interpreted at later stages of history, often for purposes very different from those of the ancient world itself.

The study of classical myth inevitably presents students with hundreds of new and unfamiliar names. To assist students with the pronunciation of these, I have provided an English pronunciation guide the first time each difficult name appears in the text. (The pronunciation guides are repeated in the index.) I have also used bold letters to highlight the names that are of greatest importance, those which one really ought to know to claim competence in the topic. These names are repeated in a list of important terms at the end of each chapter, with page numbers of where the term first appears. I leave names of lesser importance in ordinary type, though in many cases I give pronunciations for these as well. Finally, in the index I have included a capsule identification for important names.

This edition is accompanied by a Companion Website located at ...

Read More Show Less

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