The Uses of Greek Mythology

The Uses of Greek Mythology

The Uses of Greek Mythology

The Uses of Greek Mythology

Synopsis

In an innovative sequence of topics, Ken Dowden explores the uses Greeks made of myth and the uses to which we can put myth in recovering the richness of their culture. Most aspects of Greek life and history - including war, religion and sexuality - which are discernable through myth, as well as most modern approaches, are given a context in a book which is designed to be useful, accessible and stimulating.

Excerpt

I make no apologies for this book: it has been enjoyable to write, I think it will be interesting to read, and it is rather different from previous books on the subject. There are plenty of books to retell Greek mythology: a Greek, Apollodoros, wrote a useful one himself and I have put references to his account into this book wherever possible. The business of this book is not the telling of myths, though naturally some, particularly the more obscure, are outlined: I have envisaged readers who can turn to their own handbooks (see the Topic bibliography) and who want to know more about Greek myth. Equally, though I consider methodology and theory more important than some previous English writers, I have tried not to act as a salesman for a particular brand of ideas. Or at least not too much.

I have tried to write a book which will give a sense of what Greek myth is like, where it comes from and where it fits in Greek history and landscape. But I have paid particular attention to the various uses which Greeks made of myth (and which moderns think they made, consciously and unconsciously), above all the use of myth in place of early history - where it performed much better at defining the basis of the present order than a real history would have done. The result, I hope, is that we gain a better idea of how we ourselves may use Greek myth to uncover areas of Greek history, culture and experience.

A glance at the contents page will show my attempt to redefine the subject so that we can say practical, interesting and admittedly ‘speculative’ things about it. But the book cannot possibly deliver a complete account: such a project would be beyond the scope of any single volume and maybe any single author (certainly the present one). Nevertheless, I have tried to make it more than just

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