Classical Mythology offers both newcomers and long-time enthusiasts new ways to navigate the world of Greek and Roman myths and legends, beginning by explaining what classical mythology is, how it came into being, and how we know about it today. Although classical myths and legends are often encountered separately, they actually make up a coherent, self-contained system--a corpus of narratives with geography, history, and interrelationships as well as narrative rules and conventions. The present book explores the individual stories and the cosmic realms in which they are situated, and introduces the principal characters--gods, nymphs, satyrs, centaurs, monsters, and humans--along with their relationships to one another: how they are similar, how they differ, and why deities and humans need each other. It describes the physical worlds in which the mythic action takes place: terrestrial landscapes and waters, the lofty abode of the Olympian gods, the lowly realm of the dead, and Tartaros, cosmic prison for defeated supernatural beings.
The main part of the book gives a detailed narration of the principal events of classical mythology in chronological sequence from the beginning of the cosmos to the end of the heroic age, showing the relationship of individual narratives to the whole. This chronological narration is complemented by a mythological dictionary of the most important characters and themes. In addition, the dictionary discusses key concepts that are crucial for understanding how classical mythology functions.
Richly illustrated with more than one hundred images drawn from ancient art, the second edition of this unparalleled guide includes a thoroughly revised introduction, augmented lexical entries, an updated further-reading section, and enlarged discussions about the reception of classical mythology and the impact of cognitive science on the study of myth.
Whether you wish only to explore the narratives or do research on a specific aspect of the whole, this handbook is the best available guide to an extraordinary cast of characters, to the fascinating world in which they play out their fates, and to current work on classical mythology.