Classical Mythology in English Literature: A Critical Anthology

By Geoffrey Miles | Go to book overview
Save to active project

2

A ROUGH GUIDE TO THE GODS

The most essential item in the classical myth-kitty is a knowledge of the classical gods and goddesses-their names, attributes, personalities, areas of power, and the complex web of relationships which sometimes makes classical mythology seem like a vast divine soap opera. This chapter aims to provide a brief guide to the gods as they appear in classical and European literature and art (rather than as the objects of ancient Greek and Roman worship and ritual, a quite different matter).

Simply knowing the names of the gods is more complex than it might appear, since almost all of them go by two names, one Greek, one Roman. It was the Greeks (sometimes borrowing from older Middle Eastern traditions) who created the personalities, stories, and relationships of the gods. The Romans, on the other hand, originally worshipped mostly impersonal, faceless spirits of place and personifications. When the Romans came in contact with Greek culture they borrowed the whole colourful apparatus of Greek mythology and applied it to their own pantheon, identifying each Greek god with his or her nearest Roman equivalent. So, for instance, Hephaestus, the Greek master-craftsman and smith who has his forge under a volcano, became identified with Vulcan, a Roman god of volcanic fire. Over time-although classical scholars, naturally, maintain the distinctions between them-the Greek and Roman gods effectively fused into a single personality. It was the Roman names of the gods which were passed down through the Middle Ages, and became standard in English: eighteenth-century writers, even translating Homer or Sophocles, would speak of 'Jupiter' and 'Mars' and 'Venus'. In the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries the original Greek names have gradually come back. Anyone following the history of the myths needs to be familiar with both. I considered consistently using the Roman names (which are the most familiar in English literature), but this sounds absurd in relating the more archaic Greek myths; instead I have introduced each god by giving both names (first Greek, then Roman: Hera/Juno), and thereafter used either or both as seems appropriate. For quick reference the following table may be useful.

-20-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Classical Mythology in English Literature: A Critical Anthology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 457

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.