Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation

Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation

Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation

Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation


This volume is designed as a companion to the standard undergraduate mythology textbooks or, when assigned alongside the central Greek and Roman works, as a source-based alternative to those textbooks. In addition to the complete texts of the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod's Theogony, this collection provides generous selections from over 50 texts composed between the Archaic Age and the fourth century ad. Ancient interpretation of myth is represented here in selections from the allegorists Heraclitus, Cornutus and Fulgentius, the rationalists Palaephatus and Diodorus of Sicily, and the philosophers and historians Plato, Herodotus and Thucydides. Appendices treat evidence from inscriptions, papyri and Linear B tablets and include a thematic index, a mythological dictionary, and genealogies. A thoughtful Introduction supports students working with the primary sources and the other resources offered here; an extensive note to instructors offers suggestions on how to incorporate this book into their courses.


This is a collection of translations of ancient Greek and Roman sources that we have found suitable for teaching classical mythology at the undergraduate level. In that sense, the title is misleading, but Anthology of Stuff That Is Connected in One Way or Another with Mythology in the Ancient World seemed a tad unwieldy to us. It must be stated at the outset that there are literally thousands of pages of such material; we had to choose some five hundred. We have learned from numerous conversations with other instructors that no two are in complete agreement as to what would be most useful. Some colleagues who saw early versions said they would like to have more of the mythographers. Others wanted less of them—although some wanted to replace them with more literary pieces, while still others preferred more ancient interpretations of myth. One commented that the emphasis should lie in the archaic and classical material written in Greek; two days later, an e-mail arrived from another wondering whether there really shouldn't be more of the interesting later material, especially from authors writing in Latin. Even we three editors often disagreed, and there is much material that one of us would have liked to see included, as well as texts that were included over objections.

In the end our goal became an affordable book that would offer a wide variety of sources set around a core of indispensable texts. First and foremost is Hesiod's Theog ony, which is a mainstay of every syllabus. Next are the Homeric Hymns, also central texts. For about the same price as our students were spending to get translations of one of these fundamental books, they now get both, with a bonus of hundreds of pages of additional primary material, some of it rarely seen on syllabi.

Most of the translations in this volume are our own. We aimed at accuracy and clarity above all, though we also tried to ensure that more literary authors retained some of their original style intact. Lucian and Ovid, for instance, should not sound much like each other and nothing like Hyginus or a scholiast's crabbed summary of a mythographer. Wherever the Greek or Latin original depends upon particular language, we have tried to make this obvious in one fashion or another. This has, we trust, helped to keep etymology and wordplay as central to the texts in translation as they were to the ancients reading them. As for translations not our own, it was to our good fortune that Hackett Publishing has an excellent catalog, from which we were able to reprint fine versions of several pieces here.

We decided early on that primary sources deserved pride of place in this book. Our introductions are short but, we hope, useful without limiting the options of instructors. Our brevity here was designed to allow us to include as much primary material as possible, but there are other factors too. In our experience, for instance, students often become wedded to interpretations they take from introductions or modern summaries rather than those gotten from a close reading of the texts themselves or from individual instructors. Notes too have been kept to a minimum . . .

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