What are good sources to introduce people to mythology?
I would like to learn more about mythology, but I'm unsure where to start. Could anyone recommend some good websites or books for me to take a look at?
Related meta discussion: Helping users with recomendations for sources
To the person who voted to close this question: if you felt that this wouldn't be a useful question, why didn't you say so in the meta discussion?
I didn't downvote, but perhaps the question is thought of as too broad? I wish the downvoters would speak up!
I'll jump in and say that I do disagree with both the downvotes and the close votes. The question is good, and I think it's needed. Additionally, as has been noted, there is a meta question up, and it would be much more effective if people would bring up points there if they feel that this is off-topic. There haven't been any complaints on meta so far, only support, so I don't know why people are against this. Just my two cents.
@HDE226868 The assumption here (not just from you) that anyone who sees this thread on the main site would've previously kept abreast of discussions on meta, is inherently naïve.
@Semaphore fair. However, the main point here is that the downvoters and closevoters have not explained *why* they downvoted and close voted, either here or on the meta site. The meta post explains why I think this question is a necessary one, it was positively received, and as of yet no one has explained why they disagree with the rational for this question as specified in the meta post. I can't read people's minds, so I have no idea why people think this question is a bad one. Also, the meta post is linked in the body of the question, so people really should read it before they downvote.
@Semaphore The link's in the question, and my comment also meant that I thought people should weigh in if they are against it, including those who didn't know anything about the question prior to seeing it.
While it would be nice to see what people think, remember no one is obligated to explain a downvote. @HDE226868 I was mostly reacting to this "we've agreed on meta to do this why are people complaining now" attitude that I felt was coming through. +3 on meta is not a groundswell of support, especially when most would not have seen it. But, I concede I'm quite likely being oversensitive.
@Semaphore You're right that people aren't obligated to explain their downvotes. However, there's been a lot of disagreement lately about our content policies (regarding both question scope and expected level of answer details). It's really hard to figure out what people want to change when people aren't leaving comments and aren't speaking up on the meta. I guess that's why I'm frustrated about the lack of comments on this question.
Welcome to the site, and welcome to the interesting world of mythology! Here are some resources for you to get started with.
By far the easiest way to learn more about mythology is to go to your local library and borrow one of their books about mythology. Don't worry about selecting the "right" source; just select a book that looks interesting to you. Remember, you are a beginner, therefore you don't know anything about mythology, and therefore any book will teach you something new.
However, we recognize that not everyone can or would like to browse a library, and therefore have created a list of both online and offline resources. This list is by no means exhaustive: its purpose is merely to introduce the reader to a variety of sources about mythology. Please do not be frightened by the amount of sources listed below: just choose a book or website that looks interesting and read it. These books and websites are all interesting, so don't worry about choosing the "wrong" one.
Note to the reader: online sources have an online marker next to them. Offline sources link to the corresponding page on worldcat.org, which will tell you whether the book is located in a library near you.
Collections of myths
- Creation Stories from around the World -- online collection of creation myths from various cultures.
- Sacred-Texts.com -- an online database of translated myths and other sacred texts.
- World Mythology
- Oxford Companion to World Mythology
- Handbook of World Mythology
- Gods, Heroes, and Monsters: A Sourcebook of Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern Myths in Translation
- Encyclopedia Mythica -- an online encyclopedia about mythology.
For younger readers and those who’d like a more lively presentation before tackling the originals.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths: illustrated, readable, and blunt.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths: illustrated, readable, and blunt.
The Greek Gods, by Evslin, Evslin, and Hoopes. Not a long book but easy to read, and the one which got me hooked on mythology in elementary school.
The Adventures of Ulysses, Bernard Evslin: a highly readable and entertaining version of The Odyssey.
The Norse Myths, Kevin Crossley-Holland, a readable and clear collection of some of the more important Norse myths.
I recommend anything by the D’Aulaires and the Evslins in general.
Translations of Myths
An online translation of The Epic of Gilgamesh
Translations of Myths
- Homer's Iliad and Odyssey
- Hesiod's Theogony -- an online translation of the Greek creation myth.
- Homeric Hymns
- Pindar's Victory Odes
- Apollonius of Rhodes' Argonautica
- Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotecha
- Ovid's Metamorphoses, plus a downloadable version here. A loosely-structured narrative poem covering many of the classic Greek myths.
Encyclopedias and Other Resources
- Timothy Gantz, Early Greek Myth
- Theoi -- an online encyclopedia of Greek gods, creatures, and myths.
Translations of Myths
- The Four Branches of the Mabinogi: an online translation of a classic collection of welsh myths.
- CELT-- a fantastic online database of irish literature.
- The Camelot Project -- an online encyclopedia of Arthurian myth and legend.
- Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs by John Lindow
- Dictionary of Northern Mythology by Rudolf Simek
- Cassell's Dictionary of Norse Myth & Legend by Andy Orchard
- Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by
- Norse Mythology for Smart People -- an online encyclopedia.
Mesoamerican / Central American
- The Flayed God
- The Popol Vuh: translations exist online: you can choose between a literal translation and a less literal translation.
Mythological Theory (i.e. something other than Joseph Campbell)
- Sacred narrative, readings in the theory of myth
- Living Folklore, 2nd Edition: An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions -- an introduction to the academic discipline of folklore, available online from JSTOR, and offline as a book.
Blogs about Mythology
- Mythology Matters -- an online blog about mythology written by one of our own contributors.
- The New York Public Library's Recommended Mythology Links -- an online collection of high-quality websites about mythology.
- The autobiography of John (William) Bierhorst -- a short online autobiography of a man who translates native american myths for a living. It's a shortish and easy read.