A Companion to Greek Mythology
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A Companion to Greek Mythology presents a series of essays that explore the phenomenon of Greek myth from its origins in shared Indo-European story patterns and the Greeks’ contacts with their Eastern Mediterranean neighbours through its development as a shared language and thought-system for the Greco-Roman world.
  • Features essays from a prestigious international team of literary experts
  • Includes coverage of Greek myth’s intersection with history, philosophy and religion
  • Introduces readers to topics in mythology that are often inaccessible to non-specialists
  • Addresses the Hellenistic and Roman periods as well as Archaic and Classical Greece


Ken Dowden is Professor of Classics and Head of the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of Uses of Greek Mythology (1992), European Paganism (2000), and Zeus (2006).

Niall Livingstone is Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of Isocrates’ Busiris (2001) and Epigram (with G. Nisbet, 2010).


List of Illustrations viii

List of Maps xi

List of Tables xii

Notes on Contributors xiii

To the Reader xviii

Acknowledgements xxi

Glossary xxii

Abbreviations xxv

Approaching Myth 1

1 Thinking through Myth, Thinking Myth Through 3
Ken Dowden and Niall Livingstone

PART I Establishing the Canon 25

2 Homer's Use of Myth 27
Françoise Létoublon

3 Telling the Mythology: From Hesiod to the Fifth Century 47
Ken Dowden

4 Orphic Mythology 73
Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

PART II Myth Performed, Myth Believed 107

5 Singing Myth: Pindar 109
Ian Rutherford

6 Instructing Myth: From Homer to the Sophists 125
Niall Livingstone

7 Acting Myth: Athenian Drama 141
Jean Alaux

8 Displaying Myth: The Visual Arts 157
Susan Woodford

9 Platonic 'Myths' 179
Penelope Murray

10 Myth in History 195
Alan Griffiths

PART III New Traditions 209

11 Myth and Hellenic Identities 211
Fritz Graf

12 Names and Places: Myth in Alexandria 227
Anatole Mori

13 The Myth of Rome 243
Matthew Fox

14 Displaying Myth for Roman Eyes 265
Zahra Newby

15 The Myth that Saves: Mysteries and Mysteriosophies 283
Ken Dowden

16 Myth and Death: Roman Mythological Sarcophagi 301
Zahra Newby

17 Myth in Christian Authors 319
Fritz Graf

PART IV Older Traditions 339

18 The Indo-European Background to Greek Mythology 341
Nicholas J. Allen

19 Near Eastern Mythologies 357
Alasdair Livingstone and Birgit Haskamp

20 Levantine, Egyptian, and Greek Mythological Conceptions of the Beyond 383
Nanno Marinatos and Nicolas Wyatt

PART V Interpretation 411

21 Interpreting Images: Mysteries, Mistakes, and Misunderstandings 413
Susan Woodford

22 The Myth of History: The Case of Troy 425
Dieter Hertel

23 Women and Myth 443
Sian Lewis

24 Mythology of the Black Land: Greek Myths and Egyptian Origins 459
Ian Rutherford

25 Psychoanalysis: The Wellspring of Myth? 471
Richard H. Armstrong

26 Initiation: The Key to Myth? 487
Ken Dowden

27 The Semiotics and Pragmatics of Myth 507
Claude Calame, translated by Ken Dowden

PART VI Conspectus 525

28 A Brief History of the Study of Greek Mythology 527
Jan N. Bremmer

Bibliography 549

Index of Texts Discussed 605

Index of Names 613

Index of Subjects 635


"Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." (Choice, 1 November 2011)

"This collection of twenty eight articles on interpreting Greco-Roman culture presents a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to examining Greek mythology within the broader context of the intellectual and cultural development of the ancient world and provides an in depth discussion of the influence of traditional stories on the development of a shared historical culture." (Book News, Inc., 1 August 2011)