1st Edition

Fantasy in Greek and Roman Literature

ISBN 9780367139902
Published July 2, 2019 by Routledge
234 Pages

USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Fantasy in Greek and Roman Literature offers an overview of Greek and Roman excursions into fantasy, including imaginary voyages, dream-worlds, talking animals and similar impossibilities. This is a territory seldom explored and extends to rarely read texts such as the Aesop Romance, The Battle of the Frogs and the Mice, and The Pumpkinification of the Emperor Claudius.


Bringing this diverse material together for the first time, Anderson widens readers’ perspectives on the realm of fantasy in ancient literature, including topics such as dialogues with the dead, Utopian communities and fantastic feasts. Going beyond the more familiar world of myth, his examples range from The Golden Ass to the Late Antique Testament of a Pig. The volume also explores ancient resistance to the world of make-believe.


Fantasy in Greek and Roman Literature is an invaluable resource not only for students of classical and comparative literature, but also for modern writers on fantasy who want to explore the genre’s origins in antiquity, both in the more obvious and in lesser-known texts.

Table of Contents


List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction

Part One: Themes of Fantasy

2 Otherworldly Conversations in Antiquity

3 Talking Animals, Monstrous Creatures

4 Fantastic Voyages, Other Communities

5 Dreams, Apparitions, Horror

6 Some Fantastic Aspects of Myth

7 The Ultimate Myth: Metamorphosis

8 Bizarre Banquets, Topsy-Turvy Tables

9 Planting the Phallus: Sexual Fantasy

Part Two: Divergent Imaginations

10 Verse Fantasy into Prose

11 Inventing the Past in Homer and Philostratus

Part Three: Fantastic Texts

12 Old Comedy and Lucian

13 Getting into Heaven: Icaromenippus and Apocolocyntosis

14 The Summation of Fantasy: Lucian’s True Histories

Part Four: Consumers of Fantasy

15 Narrators and Audiences for Fantasy

16 Some Approaches, Ancient and Modern

17 Conclusions

Appendix: Some Fantastic Nonsense



View More



Graham Anderson is Emeritus Professor of Classics at the University of Kent, UK. He has written extensively on ancient fiction and fantasy, including Fairytale in the Ancient World (Routledge, 2000) and Greek and Roman Folklore (2006). He has just completed an anthology of ancient fairy tales for Routledge.


"Anderson has opened a door through which future scholars of the fantastic in ancient literature can walk and wander, providing a guide to how and where to begin looking... There have been, and continue to be, those who argue that while there are certainly, and undoubtedly, fantastic elements in ancient tales, "fantasy" as a genre does not exist before the nineteenth century, a thesis Anderson has set out through a significant body of work spanning the first twenty years of this new millennium to disprove. Fantasy in Greek and Roman Literature offers an absorbing, charming, and thought-provoking new chapter in these efforts." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review