The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Classical Mythology
Many people in years past absorbed the rich details of Greek mythology from the earliest phases in their educations, but times change. While classical allusions must be at least as ubiquitous as ever, in novels, op-ed columns, and computer games, our readiness to decipher these erudite nuggets and appreciate their contribution to our thoughts and our feelings has perhaps declined somewhat as our educational curricula have grown more diffuse in approach and more varied in quality. That’s why this comprehensive new edition of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Classical Mythology seems to me so perfectly timed and calibrated.
This book is not really for idiots, of course. It is just what you want, however, if you ever played a computer game that uses characters from classical mythology (or watched your child play it) and felt curious about those oddly powerful divinities with their distinct spheres of interest. It’s just what you want, if you wonder what it means when pundits on current events describe our persistent national enemies as “hyraheaded” or label a notorious prison as “Stygian” or call someone who makes a dire warning about “sowing dragon’s teeth” a “Cassandra.” It’s just what you want, if you would like to know the stories behind “Andromeda” and “Orion’s Belt” and “Ursa Major.” You can very quickly find out about these names and phrases (and hundreds more) in the helpful glossary at the back of the book, but you won’t want to miss out on reading the fuller accounts within the chapters. The new edition also has a fascinating new chapter on how and why Romans appropriated Greek mythology as their own, the changes they made, and the unique deities and other elements they added. Readers may rest assured that this introductory, beginners-level book covers everything that one would likely encounter in an introductory college-level course on classical mythology.
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