Classical Mythology: The Basics (Paperback) book cover

Classical Mythology: The Basics

By Richard Martin

© 2016 – Routledge

172 pages

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Paperback: 9780415715034
pub: 2016-05-10
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Description

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.

Reviews

"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

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface

Chapter 1: Stories that stay

Myth as Speech

Myth and community traditions

Myth and belief

The range of tradition

Rejecting myth

Rationalizing myth

Allegorizing myth

How we get myth

The sources--a brief chronological list

Further reading

Chapter 2: Talking of Gods

Origin stories

Hesiod’s Theogony

Other origin myths

Where gods come from

What are gods good for?

Further reading

Chapter 3: Heroic dimensions

Hero: the ancient idea

Heroes in Homer and Hesiod

Heroines

Heroic quests and their meaning

Hero patterns

Heracles

Hero as politician

Heroine as athlete

Further reading

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

Further reading

Chapter 5: Myths, media, memories

Roman reception of myth

Mythic media, from ancient to modern

Prose

Poetry

Drama

Music

Dance

Visual art

Film

Comics, graphic novels, video games

Further reading

Index

About the Author

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.

About the Series

The Basics

The Basics is a highly successful series of accessible guidebooks which provide an overview of the fundamental principles of a subject area in a jargon-free and undaunting format.

Intended for students approaching a subject for the first time, the books both introduce the essentials of a subject and provide an ideal springboard for further study. With over 50 titles spanning subjects from Artificial Intelligence to Women’s Studies, The Basics are an ideal starting point for students seeking to understand a subject area.

Each text comes with recommendations for further study and gradually introduces the complexities and nuances within a subject.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HIS002000
HISTORY / Ancient / General