This is an engaging introduction which explores the latest thinking about Classical mythology, the history of interpreting myths and the role of myths in cultural tradition, from painting to opera, philosophy, politics, drama, and religion in the modern day. It answers such questions as
- what are ancient myths and who invented them
- where do gods come from
- what makes a hero
- how is Classical myth used in the modern world
- and what approaches are there to the study of myth?
Featuring further reading and case studies from antiquity to the modern day, this is an essential introduction to the myths which have been a fundamental part of Western culture throughout history.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Chapter 1: Stories that stay
Myth as Speech
Myth and community traditions
Myth and belief
The range of tradition
How we get myth
The sources--a brief chronological list
Chapter 2: Talking of Gods
Other origin myths
Where gods come from
What are gods good for?
Chapter 3: Heroic dimensions
Hero: the ancient idea
Heroes in Homer and Hesiod
Heroic quests and their meaning
Hero as politician
Heroine as athlete
Chapter 4: Interpreting myths--symbols and societies
Myths as symbols: Greeks to Romantics
Myths as symbols: Freud, Jung, and others
Myths and society: early forerunners
Myths and society: the role of ritual
Myths and society: functionalists and structuralists
Chapter 5: Myths, media, memories
Roman reception of myth
Mythic media, from ancient to modern
Comics, graphic novels, video games
Richard Martin is Professor in Classics at Stanford University and has twenty-five years' experience in teaching an introduction to Classical Mythology to undergraduate students. He is widely published on Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Aristophanes,Theognis, and other ancient authors and genres in which mythic narration figures prominently.
"An engaging and insightful introduction that explains the character and significance of Classical mythology in the ancient world and outlines how and why it continues to matter today."
- Fiona Hobden, University of Liverpool, UK
"Classical Mythology: The Basics is a good first approach to the vast field of mythology ... the clear and complete nature of the book makes it accessible to a wide audience whose knowledge of the subject [may not be] extensive."
- Sarah Lagrou, Universite Grenoble Alpes, France, in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"This excellent book, by Stanford classicist Richard Martin, gives a packed yet pellucid overview of Greek and Roman mythology ... There are succinct discussions of myths of origin, especially of Hesiod’s Theogony, which Martin helpfully matches up with the Babylonian Enuma Elish. Discussed at length are hero myths, which some sticklers in folklore would rather call legends. Here Martin most helpfully distinguishes ancient conceptions of heroism from modern ones, where heroes can be ordinary rather than exceptional ... Managing in addition to find space to discuss the appearance of ancient myths in a host of modern media, Martin offers a superb presentation of classical mythology."
- Robert A. Segal, University of Aberdeen, UK, in Reading Religion, a publication of the American Academy of Religion