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A Companion to Greek Mythology / Edition 1

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A Companion to Greek Mythology approaches the richly diverse phenomenon of Greek myth from a distinctive new angle -- one that delves deeply into its origins in shared Indo-European story patterns and the Greeks’ contacts with their Eastern Mediterranean neighbours. Contributions from a team of international experts trace the development of Greek myth into a shared language, heritage, and way of thinking throughout the entire Greco-Roman world.

Individual essays address such topics as how myths were presented in stories, poems, dramas and all forms of visual art, as well as the role of myth in philosophy, learning, religion, mystery-cult, and Greek self identity. Other essays explore contemporary reception of Greek myth and the potential of modern theoretical approaches. A Companion to Greek Mythology offers invaluable insights into the ancient world that will help to shape our understanding of the wide ranging appeal and influence of Greek myth across the ages.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." (Choice, 1 November 2011)

"This collection of twenty eight articles on interpreting Greco-Roman culture presents a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to examining Greek mythology within the broader context of the intellectual and cultural development of the ancient world and provides an in depth discussion of the influence of traditional stories on the development of a shared historical culture." (Book News, Inc., 1 August 2011)

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ken Dowden is Professor of Classics and Director of the Institute of Archaeology & Antiquity at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of Uses of Greek Mythology (1992), European Paganism (2000), and Zeus (2006).

Niall Livingstone is a Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of Isocrates’ Busiris (2001) and, with Gideon Nisbet, a forthcoming book on Greek epigrams.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations.

List of Maps.

List of Tables.

Notes on Contributors.

To the Reader.




Approaching Myth: Thinking through myth - thinking myth through (Ken Dowden & Niall Livingstone).

Part 1 - Establishing the canon.

1.1 Homer's use of myth (Françoise Létoublon).

1.2 Telling the mythology: from Hesiod to the fifth century (Ken Dowden).

1.3 Orphic mythology (Radcliffe G. Edmonds III).

Part 2 - Myth performed, myth believed.

2.1 Singing myth: Pindar (Ian Rutherford).

2.2 Instructing myth: from Homer to the sophists (Niall Livingstone).

2.3 Acting myth: Athenian drama (Jean Alaux).

2.4 Displaying myth: the visual arts (Susan Woodford).

2.5 Platonic 'myths' (Penelope Murray).

2.6 Myth in history (Alan Griffiths).

Part 3 - New traditions.

3.1 Myth and Hellenic identities (Fritz Graf).

3.2 Names and places: myth in Alexandria (Anatole Mori).

3.3 The myth of Rome (Matthew Fox).

3.4 Displaying myth for Roman eyes (Zahra Newby).

3.5 The myth that saves: mysteries and mysteriosophies (Ken Dowden).

3.6 Myth and death: Roman mythological sarcophagi (Zahra Newby).

3.7 Myth in Christian authors (Fritz Graf).

Part 4 - Older traditions.

4.1 The Indo-European background to Greek mythology (Nicholas J. Allen).

4.2 Near Eastern mythologies (Alasdair Livingstone & Birgit Haskamp).

4.3 Underworlds in Greece and neighbouring cultures (Nanno Marinatos & Nicolas Wyatt).

Part 5 - Interpretation.

5.1 Interpreting images (Susan Woodford).

5.2 The myth of history: the case of Troy (Dieter Hertel).

5.3 Women and myth (Sian Lewis).

5.4 Mythology of the Black Land: Greek myths and Egyptian origins (Ian Rutherford).

5.5 Psychoanalysis: the wellspring of myth? (Richard Armstrong).

5.6 Initiation: the key to myth? (Ken Dowden).

5.7 The semiotics and pragmatics of myth (Claude Calame).

Part 6 - Conspectus.

6.1 A brief history of the study of Greek mythology (Jan N. Bremmer).

Guide to fragmentary and less easily found texts.


Index of texts discussed.

Index of names.

Index of subjects.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2012



    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2012

    Way to expensive

    Way to expensive

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2011

    cheep but bad

    not worth the price no matter how cheep it is

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2011


    Have these people gone crazy?? LOOK AT THE PRICE!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2011


    fun for every one

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    Typically Solid "Companion" Entry

    As scholars and students of ancient history know, Wiley-Blackwell provides a "companion" for many of the most significant topics relating to the genre. While a companion on Greek mythology might at first seem overkill, given the number of books on the subject, Dowden and Livingstone have done the field a service by gathering together a nice group of scholars, who in turn have produced readable, informative, and well-researched articles on a variety of aspects of Greek myth. A glance at the Table of Contents (under Features on the B&N site) shows the depth and breadth of these articles, and the reader is well-rewarded by the quality of the texts. Many illustrations and a dozen or so tables accompany and clarify or illuminate the articles. Depending on your level of expertise, a couple of these may prove to be on the introductory side (though readers looking for a light summary of Greek myth must turn elsewhere). In general, however, the articles are uniformly interesting and -- what I consider the best thing about these massy tomes -- they lead you to some fascinating places you hadn't considered going. And surely that's the sign of a good companion.

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