Is there an authoritative compendium of Greek mythology?

  • I've always been interested in Greek mythology, but in my country we don't have the kind of standalone college courses you find in the US, and I've never been able to find resources that seemed properly comprehensive.

    I don't want to just read stories here and there, like Grimm fairy tales, but get a proper overview of the landscape of Greek mythology, how the stories go together, and so on.

    Can anyone point me to a good source, or reading list, on the topic?

    Why the downvotes?

    Probably seen as too opinion based. Nevertheless, I think it's a useful question. Welcome to Mythology!

    Even though I admire and respect DukeZhou answer, I learned that myths are told and retold, so they must be diverse in form. You may have good books encompassing some of the existing versions, but I think that "authoritative" may not be the best choice of word.

    @Rodrigo That's a fair point on "authoritative", but I suspect most would regard the OCD in that light. *(I actually listed it first for that reason, even though I rarely consult it myself;)

    It's a fair question, but answers are going to be subjective. Unlike say, reddit's mythology section, we don't have a resources list. (That I know of, anyway.) Actually, this question and ones like it get asked on reddit quite a bit.

  • DukeZhou

    DukeZhou Correct answer

    5 years ago

    The Oxford Classical Dictionary is often referenced, and although not restricted to mythology, it contains much useful information on Classical civilization which provides critical context in understanding the mythology of the various periods.

    Edith Hamilton's Mythology is another good compendium. Although not restricted to Greek mythology, and significantly less comprehensive than Graves, it is also less controversial, and Hamilton was a very fine scholar and translator, and has been widely utilized in education.

    As a compendium reflecting the breadth and tradition of Greek Mythology in particular, I still like The Greek Myths, in that it is quite comprehensive and merges multiple, conflicting accounts of myths into a single narrative. It includes citations to the source material, and has a robust index that can be used to track the appearance of different characters from mythology across the canon.*


    *Graves' commentary on the myths is not in favor, seen as overly speculative, a fair critique, but it is part of a modern tradition of interpretation deriving from Frazer, and which has significantly influenced the thinking of artists in the 20th century and beyond. (Nevertheless, I expect to get some down-votes for merely for mentioning this useful text;) Graves' most famous book, I, Claudius, is widely regarded as one of the best novels of the 20th century, which places Graves in the tradition of authors like Apollodorus and Ovid, who themselves created compendiums of the myths in there eras. I highly recommend both of those authors!

    The full text of Ovid's Metamorphoses can be found on Perseus in English and Latin. (In Perseus' index of Greek and Roman texts, he is listed as P. Ovidius Naso.)

    The full text of Apollodorus' Bibliotheca can be found on Perseus in Greek and English, translated by Frazer himself!

    Exactly the kind of answer I was hoping for! Thanks!

    @SanDiago I added links to the compendiums of both Ovid and Apollodorus that you can read online in English and the original.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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