Annotated Bibliography of Women in Classical Mythology

by Moya K. Mason


This opening day collection has been developed for a special library in a Classics department of an academic institution and prepared primarily for the undergraduate population taking courses in Classical Mythology, with an emphasis on Women in Mythology. In addition, the collection will have obvious benefits for graduate students, and contribute to the overall quality of faculty teaching. The bulk of the materials will be used to support the courses offered. The undergraduate majoring in Classics or Classical Studies or taking electives in the area is the focus. The three main criteria for a collection of this kind are: first, the departmental library must contain copies of all books used as required texts in courses; secondly, that a range of books that are helpful to instructors in the teaching of these courses is essential; and lastly, that a variety of books otherwise likely to be of interest and use to students in the undergraduate courses, to give them insight and offer direction through the literature. Although books and journals of a highly specialist quality have great value in the study of any subject area, they will not have a place in this collection as the focus is on undergraduate education. There will be some multiple copies needed for this library, but since the collection has a mandatory reference policy, with no exceptions, the numbers of duplicates will be few.

The study of Ancient Greek and Roman society falls under the term Classics and describes the history, art and architecture, politics, literature, philosophy, music, religion, and mythology of two of the world's greatest civilizations. The Greeks and Romans are studied together because of the complex and important ties they had to one another. It is true that the Romans conquered Greece and took over its empire, but in turn, Greece captured the hearts and minds of the Roman people, teaching them about their language, gods, and literature. Indeed, the fact that Greek ideas and important works have survived and become the foundation for Western Civilization, is due in no small part to the Romans' adopting, spreading, and heralding them across their empire. As H. I. Marrou wrote in A History of Education in Antiquity:

If Greek civilization in its turn had remained the jealously guarded preserve of a few Aegean cities, it too would have disappeared long ago, without renewing, as it has, the face of the earth. And the fact that it has fulfilled its destiny is largely due to Rome. Rome's historic function was to complete the work begun by Alexander, and plant Hellenistic civilization from the Sahara to the lochs of Scotland, from the Euphrates to the Atlantic; and to give it such deep roots that it could withstand the storms of Teuton and Slav invasions, and the Arab invasion, if not that of the Turks. It is this profound labor, ensuring the renaissances of the future, that constitutes Rome's real honor and imperishable glory (Marrou 1948,293).

And that is why this writer would never call a collection development project in Classical Mythology simply Greek Mythology, even though it seems as if the emphasis is on the Ancient Greeks. For example, it was the Roman poet Ovid (43 B.C. - 17/18 A.D), who provided us with many of the important Greek myths. If Ovid had not written his Metamorphoses, many important stories would never have survived. Metamorphoses should always hold a special place of honour in any library collection devoted to Classical Mythology. It is especially important for the study of Women in Mythology because it is filled with poems describing a number of important goddesses, lovers of Zeus, and genuine love between husbands and wives. Who could read The Death of Orpheus and not feel real emotion? The Metamorphosis, Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days, and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey have laid the foundation for the study of Classical Mythology, and consequently, are considered the primary texts for this opening day collection. As each new reader is introduced and studies these literary masterpieces, new insight is born. Therein lies the magic.

Studying the primary sources is required and essential in the study of Classical Mythology. This allows for new and important interpretations of the works to be developed, providing more insight into the civilization that has in large part, formed Western Civilization. For the Ancient Greeks and Romans, mythology was synonymous with their religion and closely linked to politics, history, architecture, and philosophy. It also played a huge role in the cultural activities of music, sports, and festivals. They would not wage a battle without first conferring with the gods. That can be seen all the way back to Homer's Iliad, and continued to have its place throughout the ages. To understand the commitment that these ancient people had for their myths, one only needs to look at their education system. An educated Greek or Roman was one who had a good understanding of the classic myths, and could recite long sections of Homer's poems. Mythology was imbued into the structure of education, which began at home with the telling of ancient stories.

Greeks were interested in understanding the place of human beings within the world around them and Greek myths contributed to this effort. They looked around their world and asked why? In groping for the answer to this question, mythology was born. Hesiod's Theogony was a myth that discussed the connection Greeks had to the gods and to the universe overall. Indeed, the whole sequence of myths in Hesiod's work give the feeling that somehow things are inevitable, that evil is more equable than it seems, that old age and disease are in some ways the fault of the people. The Greeks believed that if humans had behaved better, things would not have ended so badly between them and the gods. And if they could only learn to improve their behavior, things might improve. Greek myths were passed down through the generations and did contain important messages about life, in general, and life within society, in particular. For these ancient peoples, nothing was done without the gods in mind. Mythology was so deeply ingrained into society that it affected how people lived their lives and was directly responsible for society's perception of women and the manner they were treated in everyday situations. Therein lies the great importance of the study of mythology: it can help to explain creation, existence, death, and morality. As H. R. Ellis Davidson said in Gods and Myths of Northern Europe:

The study of mythology need no longer be looked at as an escape from reality into the fantasies of primitive peoples, but as a search for the deeper understanding of the human mind. In reaching out to explore the distant hills where the gods dwell and the deeps where the monsters are lurking, we are perhaps discovering the way home (Davidson 1964,24).

If Classical Mythology can explain what a society's views and values are, and if Western society evolved out of and was formed by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, then it is possible to garner insight into today's society by studying ancient myths. As John Peradotto suggests in Classical Mythology: An Annotated Bibliographical Study, we must try "to coax meaning out of the narratives" (Peradotto, 1973,1). By studying Women in Classical Mythology, we can better understand historical and current gender dynamics, with the hope that by understanding, change is also possible.

It is, therefore, the mission of this library to build and maintain a collection that will support the instructional, research, and intellectual needs of an academic departmental library concentrating on Women in Classical Mythology. The primary purpose is to provide the information resources in print and other media to carry out the department's teaching program and to support the research needs of its students and faculty. The collection will present a diversity of ideas, expression, and scholarship. This Classics Library and Reading Room is designed as a facility where those studying in this field can find a non-circulating, core collection of primary texts with relevant secondary commentaries and reference works. It is the policy of the library to offer students a quiet, intellectual place to read, think, and study.

Structure of Opening Day Collection

The opening day collection of the Classics Library and Reading Room will consist of items of various formats including monographs, journals, and electronic resources. The items are presented in alphabetical order, annotated, and reviewed, where possible.

Opening Day Collection

AUTHOR: Austin, Norman

TITLE: Helen of Troy and Her Shameless Phantom

PUBLISHED: Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, xiv,223 p.

ISBN: 0-8014-2955-2

Who could study women in classical mythology without looking indepthly at Helen of Troy, the woman, who began the Trojan War? Originally seen in the Iliad, and a much maligned character in the piece, Helen has reinvented herself by the time Odysseus visits her and Menelaus years after the war. Austin ventures to say that Helen stood for the seductiveness, treachery, and unreliability that the Greeks saw as wholly female. Austin challenges the myths surrounding the woman that everyone wanted to hate, and provides a unique picture of a literary paradox. The great feat of this work is Austin's research into Sappho's legendary poem about Helen called Anaktoria, which dwells on free will and desire, which took precedence over what society expected Helen to do. Sappho never believes in the phantom theory that places an innocent Helen in Egypt and her double in Troy with her lover.

Reviewed by Sheila Murnaghan of the University of Pennsylvania as a scholarly endeavor, with merit and insight.

AUTHOR: Bell, R. E.

TITLE: Women of Classical Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary

PUBLISHED: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 480 p.

ISBN: 0-19-5077977-9

Robert Bell's Women in Classical Mythology gives a good synopsis of mythological women, including information on the more obscure Greeks and Romans. Most every classical dictionary of this sort will contain the usual catalogue of women, which is perfectly satisfactory for an overview, but where Bell has outdone himself is with the inclusion of hundreds more. Approximately 2600 entries are cross-referenced, presented in alphabetical order, and indexed by "the men in their lives," making it easy to locate items. For instance, if a student wanted to find out the names of all Zeus' female liaisons, they could do it quite easily with this book. Women of Classical Mythology offers the reader a complete range of "heroines, murderers, lovers, wives, animals, hermaphrodites, monsters, and transsexuals in a rich and unique guide" (Oxford University Press).

Winner of Library Journal's Best Reference Book of 1991.

Also, given high marks from The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Booklist, and Wilson Library Bulletin. Suggested by Dr. M. Joyal.

AUTHOR: Blundell, Sue

TITLE: Women in Ancient Greece

PUBLISHED: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1995

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 288 p.

ISBN: 0-674-95473-4

Sue Blundell has provided an indepth look at ancient Greek history, complete with the women. So many histories of the subject are compiled only about men, from men's point of view, and reveal nothing of women in Archaic and Classical society. Blundell discusses their daily existence, including legal rights, and how they were treated by men through the use of myths, plays, and primary sources. This writer gives insight into the cultural manifestations of living in a misogynist society that had very definite ideas about gender roles.

AUTHOR: Cahill, Jane

TITLE: Her Kind: Stories of Women from Greek Mythology

PUBLISHED: Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 1995

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, xi, 232 p.

ISBN: 1-55111-042-3

This Canadian publication is highly regarded in the field, and is considered an essential read for anyone interested in learning about women in Classical Mythology. Provocative, informative, and insightful, Cahill presents ancient society through the eyes of the women, allowing us a window of knowledge from a fresh perspective. It concentrates on thirteen different women from myth, including Jocasta, Clytemnestra, Medea, and Thetis, giving a wide range of story lines. Her Kind: Stories of Women from Greek Mythology has been given two thumbs up from important scholars in the area, including Mary R. Lefkowitz, Katie Gilchrist, and Sarah B. Pomeroy. An interesting read.

AUTHOR: Cantarella, Eva

TITLE: Pandora's Daughters: The Role and Status of Women in Greek and Roman Antiquity

PUBLISHED: Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1987

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 256 p.

ISBN: 0-8018-3385-X

Pandora was the beautiful woman in Hesiod's poems, who was a trap for men. Pandora was undoubtedly the representation of all women, and her actions set in motion the generation of life and the end of the Golden Age; she is responsible for the end of paradise. This book explores how the myths affected what Greek men felt about women, which accumulated in fear and suspicion. All women in myth are presented in some way with reference to marriage, and this is hardly surprising since marriage was the central event of the life of a woman in ancient Greek society. It also explores the concept of how this stereotype has been dragged down through the ages and is still with us today. Excellent study of Ancient women.

AUTHOR: Carpenter, Thomas, A. and Christopher A. Faraone (eds.)

TITLE: Masks of Dionysus

PUBLISHED: Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 415 p.

ISBN: 0-8014-2779-7

Filled with interesting and complex essays contributed by a wide range of scholars, this collection offers fresh views on the cult of Dionysus, which was considered dangerous for the morality of ancient women. The sexual frenzy, and enthusiasm displayed by his followers have been traced in myth and society -- disturbing to many men, and heralded by their female counterparts. Looked upon as subversive and family destroying, Dionysus and his followers are studied from a social theorist angle, which is quite fascinating for what it tells us about the women involved.

Reviewed by Richard Hamilton of Bryn Mawr, this book is called stimulating, with fresh ideas and new material. Contains an excellent bibliography.

AUTHOR: Cohen, Beth(ed.)

TITLE: The Distaff Side: Representing the Female in Homer's Odyssey

PUBLISHED: New York: Oxford University Press, 1995

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 229 p.: 38 p. of plates

ISBN: 0-19-508682-1

Cohen's book offers an interdisciplinary view to the study of women in the Odyssey. She gives an excellent overview of the female characters and their significance to the overall structure of Homer's great epic poem. By examining women in the context of the literary work, and knowing how Ancient Greeks viewed their myths, Cohen sets the scene for realistic interpretations of the society in which they lived. The essays explore the ways in which the goddesses and women of the epic affect the lives of the gods and men, and give an accurate picture of the world they lived in.

Reviewed by the phenomenal Mary Lefkowitz of Wellesley College, who heralds the collection as one of the notable achievements in classical scholarship in the last two decades, and explains that Cohen and associates are quite right to point out that The Odyssey is the most important source for understanding women's roles in ancient Greece.

AUTHOR: DeBois, Page

TITLE: Centaurs and Amazons: Women and the Pre-history of the Great Chain of Being

PUBLISHED: Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 192 p.

ISBN: 0-472-08153-5

This is not simply a book that looks at centaurs and Amazons. It also focuses on the male/female and Greek/barbarian aspects of that society. DeBois' interests lie in exploring gender differences, and she uses myths to uncover the polarities of existence between civilized and uncivilized, male versus female. Its importance lies in exposing the real and disturbing differences that existed in ancient society, and makes extrapolations from then to now.

Reviewed by Ron Ancona of Hunter College, who believes that the book brings together history, psychology, philosophy, and literature to illuminate the significant patterns of thought among one of the greatest civilizations.

AUTHOR: Doherty, Lillian

TITLE: Siren's Songs: Gender, Audiences, and Narrators in the Odyssey

PUBLISHED: Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 432 p.

ISBN: 0-472-10577-3

Doherty offers a feminist interpretation of the Odyssey, and in particular, its leading character, the hard-to-hate Odysseus. Since devising the plan of the Trojan Horse, and by winning the war against the city of Troy and their allies, Odysseus has been drifting for more than twenty years. His slight to one of the Olympian Gods has made him into a cast away trying to return home to his wife and son, whom he has not seen in all those years. Along the way, he has many encounters with goddesses who love him, and princesses who want to be his wives. Odysseus also carries on a close, but platonic relationship with the goddess Athena, who represents the male archetype in Greek Mythology. Doherty explores his treatment of these women, including his long and suffering wife Penelope, presenting an interesting saga of one man's influence in the lives of so many different female characters.

Reviewed by William G. Thalmann of University of South Carolina, who says that its real importance is in its underlying assertion that studies of mythological characters can and do inform us of our own cultural realities, and thereby have consequences for the future.

AUTHOR: Fantham, E., H.P. Foley, N.B. Kampen, S. B. Pomeroy, and H. A. Shapiro

TITLE: Women in the Classical World: Image and Text

PUBLISHED: New York: Oxford University Press, 1995

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 448 p.

ISBN: 0-19-509862-5

Considered a modern classic and required reading for both students and scholars, Women in the Classical World has been compiled by some of top scholars in the area of Ancient Women, and includes discussions on both Greeks and Romans. Interesting essays on the long-suffering Spartan women, who spent most of their lives waiting for their absent husbands, who rarely came home alive from the constant battles. Also included is the Amazonian archetype, which provides depth and uniqueness to the book. Studies on the cosmopolitan lifestyle of women in the Hellenistic era, and the stoic, aristocratic Roman matrons round out the book with discussions on conformity and repression in the ancient world. Book covers 776 B.C. - 313 A.D.

AUTHOR: Felson-Rubin, N.

TITLE: Regarding Penelope: From Character to Poetics

PUBLISHED: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 232 p.

ISBN: 0-691-03228-9

Penelope, wife and queen to Odysseus is one of the most interesting and complex women in ancient mythology. She is presented as a loving mother and wife, who still feels that her husband is alive and will return home. Bothered by suitors, and pressured to remarry, Penelope resists again and again for the love she still feels for her husband. Felson-Rubin explores Homer's portrayal of Penelope, which includes warnings to Odysseus from the ghost of Agamemnon to beware of his wife when he returns home. This writer explores possible plot interpretations and argues that Homer uses Penelope in an erotic, and manipulative way to provide fluidity and dynamics in the Odyssey. Penelope captivates the male suitors, the audience, and the husband she has not seen in more than twenty years, even though he has lived for many with the enchanting and beautiful Circe, who fell deeply in love with him. Penelope is obviously meant to be a paragon of marital fidelity, and is serious and industrious. Nevertheless, even the virtuous members of the sex are to be forever sullied by Clytemnestra's sin. This generalization is the first in a long history of hostility toward women in western literature. It is up to Penelope to avoid becoming a second Clytemnestra.

Reviewed by James P. Holoka of Eastern Michigan University as an innovative and critically instructive work on a complex character.

AUTHOR: Foley, H. P.

TITLE: The Homeric Hymn to Demeter: Translation, Commentary, and Interpretive Essays

PUBLISHED: Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1994

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 297 p.

ISBN: 0-691-01479-5

An important commentary of a late seventh or early sixth century B.C. religious document. The hymn to Demeter, the goddess Mother Earth, is just one of a series of hymns written in celebration of ancient Greek women and their religious life. The work includes the original Greek text, with an annotated translation of the poem, and selected essays on the religious, social, historical, and psychological meaning behind the words. The book offers significant insight into Greek religion and culture, and gives us a hint of what it was like to live in that kind of world. What is significant about Hades' rape and abduction of Demeter's daughter Persephone, and his incestuous feelings for her mother, his sister? These scholars put these stories in the context of mother-daughter relationships and force the reader to consider the early epic cosmology in the context of the modern world.

Reviewed by Victoria Pedrick of Georgetown University, calling Foley a great scholar whose work is informing, engaging, and profound. Could be used in women's studies courses, introductory literature, and classics courses.

AUTHOR: Grant, Michael

TITLE: Atlas of Classical History, 5th ed.

PUBLISHED: New York: Oxford University Press, 1994

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, one atlas: 92 p.

ISBN: 0195210743

AUTHOR: Grant, Michael

TITLE: Myths of the Greeks and Romans

PUBLISHED: New York: Meridian, 1995

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 476 p.

ISBN: 0-452-01162-0

A classic work in the field, similar to G. S. Kirk's book, and suggested by John Peradotto's subject bibliography on Classical Mythology. A student could choose any one of Michael Grant's books, which number more than one hundred, and be satisfied and enlightened by his text.

AUTHOR: Graves, Robert

TITLE: The Greek Myths

PUBLISHED: Mt. Kisco, N. Y.: Moyer Bell, 1988, c1960

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 769 p.

ISBN: 0-918-82580-6

Another 'must have' for any mythological collection, this work was also suggested by J. Peradotto's Bibliography, and should be read by beginner and scholar alike.

AUTHOR: Hesiod

TITLE: Theogony and Works and Days, translated by M. L. West

PUBLISHED: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 78 p.

ISBN: 0-19-281788-4

Hesiod lived in the late eighth century B.C., and is considered the oldest Greek poet. His work, with Homers' works, forms the foundation for Classical Mythology. From Hesiod and onward for 300 years, the Greeks were interested in finding order in the world, in all aspects. Hesiod belonged to this period, and was to set order to the disorder. His Theogony has provided Western Civilization with a systematic genealogy of The Titans and Olympians, along with their struggles for succession. Hesiod's Works and Days is a discussion of his way of life on the farm, his lazy brother, and is filled with advice on morality and ethics, which is considered "wisdom literature." Hesiod is considered the first source for the Pandora- Prometheus myth, and gives us the reasons why the Golden Age ended. Of course, the blame was transferred to women, and therein began the historical attack, with the premier misogynist of all time. Hesiod's work tells us a lot about creation and religious views of the ancient world.

AUTHOR: Holst-Warhaft, G.

TITLE: Dangerous Voices: Women's Laments and Greek Literature

PUBLISHED: New York: Routledge, 1992

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 389 p.

ISBN: 0-415-07249-2

Ancient Greece, from the sixth century B.C. onwards, was typified by a collective will to extend their regional borders, and build an empire. That meant continual military operations and subsequent loss of life. The women who were left behind, expressed their anger and frustration by lamenting in a powerful way. This ritual is seen quite frequently in the myths, and the fifth century B.C. tragedies that developed from them. However, the state did not want the women displaying such forceful feelings, and restricted its use. They believed that the anger was being leveled against the state for its responsibility for the deaths of their loved ones, and seen as unacceptable. Laments were considered potentially dangerous songs, right up there with the songs of the sirens. The author looks at how that affected the social and psychological reality of women, comparing urban and rural women, and what it did to them to lose their traditional control over the rituals of death, and mourning. It had been one of the few forms of expression under their control.

Reviewed by Sheila M. Colwell of the University of Washington as wide-ranging and insightful. She stresses that more work needs to be done in this area to reach the depths of the subject.


TITLE: The Odyssey, translated by E. V. Rieu

PUBLISHED: New York: Penguin Classics, 1946

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 453 p.

ISBN: 0-140-44001-1

This well-loved translation of Homer's text is considered a classic, and is used by scholars because of Rieu's faithful and delicate prose that never strays from what the original author was trying to convey. It must be remembered that The Iliad and The Odyssey were the common heritage of all Greeks and one of the most important ties binding them together. They soon became viewed as sacred, partly because of their great age and beauty, and served for the Greeks very much as the Bible did for the ancient Hebrews. The poems of Homer were accepted as the ultimate authority for information about morality, early history, and the Olympian theology. Therefore, what Homer portrayed women as was very significant, and needs to be studied indepth. In a way, The Odyssey is not just the tale of the wanderings of Odysseus, the poet has made it, also, into a sort of "catalogue of women." Homer examines women of all kinds and from all walks of life, and these feminine portraits are always objective and fair because he never made judgements.


TITLE: The Odyssey, translated by Robert Fagles

PUBLISHED: New York: Viking

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 560 p.

ISBN: 0-670-82162-4

Considered by The New York Review of Books as a masterpiece of this generation, and a poetic representation of a classic. Anthony Hecht calls it a musical event, and Time, an original joy.


TITLE: The Odyssey and The Iliad, song by Ian McKellan

PUBLISHED: New York: Viking

DESCRIPTION: Audio cassette, 18 hours on 12 cassettes

ISBN: 0-453-00963-8

Homer was a traveling bard, who eventually made his way into the court and entertained ancient royalty with stories of their ancestors. Homer stood at the head of an oral tradition, and did not have any of his poetry written on paper, but kept it in his heart. When he recited the poems, it was in the form of a song, and it is interesting to hear the classic performed in this manner.


TITLE: The Iliad, translated by Richmond Lattimore

PUBLISHED: Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 527 p.

ISBN: 0-226-46940-9

PRICE: $23.95

Considered one of the greatest classicists of our time, Richmond Lattimore's translation is a pleasure to read. It is clear, concise, and most important, he does not embellish what Homer originally created. Rather, he draws the audience into the plot and weaves the exploits of war around them. Fascinating read.

AUTHOR: Hornblower, Simon, and Antony Spawforth (eds.)

TITLE: The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed.

PUBLISHED: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996, c1944

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 1696 p.

ISBN: 0-19-866172-x

Expensive, but forever needed, this classic compilation has used the best scholars from around the world to present 6000 entries that range from brief descriptions to long essays on a multitude of topics and subject areas. In print for over a half century, this edition has been updated, added to, and expanded in scope. Essential for any library setting.

AUTHOR: Just, R.

TITLE: Women in Athenian Law and Life

PUBLISHED: New York, Routledge

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 328 p.

ISBN: 0-415-05841-4

This book shows how ancient Athenian men sought to define their women during the heyday of that country's existence. The fifth century was a time of expansion and exploration for the Athenians, but it was also a time of wealth and great power. By looking at myths, plays, and Athenian Law, Just has put together a comprehensive account of women, social complexities, and the composite image of women that was created.

Reviewed by The Times, London Association of Classical Teachers Newsletter, and Times Higher Education Supplement as the best introduction to the subject of gender realities in Ancient Greece during the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.

AUTHOR: Katz, M. A.

TITLE: Penelope's Renown: Meaning and Indeterminacy in the Odyssey

PUBLISHED: Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1991

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 229 p.

ISBN: 0-691-06796-1

Katz has examined the contradictory and fluid character of Penelope in context with her words and actions, and tries to link her apparent inconsistencies with the indeterminacy of the narrative as a whole. Though Penelope is undermined by others' words, she never openly discredits herself and proves to be a good match for the wily Odysseus. Katz brings out all the levels of deceit and mystery in The Odyssey that are not always apparent to new students. It is a thought-provoking book that makes Penelope a much more important character than generally believed. She accomplishes this and develops Odysseus' wife into more than a long-suffering wife, waiting for her philandering husband.

Reviewed by the Rev. Charles R. Beye of City University, New York, who gives it a favorable overview citing considerable sophistication and deep understanding of the subject by the author, and a real unity of thought.

AUTHOR: Kirk, G. S.

TITLE: The Nature of Greek Myths

PUBLISHED: New York: Penguin Books, 1974

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 332 p.

ISBN: 0-14-013536-7

Used by many university professors to introduce the complex study of mythology, and its underlying meanings. Universal theories are presented, including those of Claude Levi-Strauss and Freud. Indepth analysis on individual myths, with a concentration on the hero myths.

AUTHOR: Lefkowitz, M. R.

TITLE: Women in Greek Myth, 2nd ed.

PUBLISHED: Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1990

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 382 p.

ISBN: 0-8018-4108-9

This book and the next by the same author and associate, are considered, along with Sarah Pomeroy's works in the area, the foundation for this relatively new concentration of women in mythology. The quality and the high standards seen in these books, make the reader quite certain they are consuming the work of experts. The catalogue of women in ancient myths is considered, and reflections are made on their contribution to the male/female relationships in ancient civilization. Important read for all levels of students.

AUTHOR: Lefkowitz, M. R., and M. Fant

TITLE: Women's Life in Greece and Rome: A Source Book in Translation, 2nd ed.

PUBLISHED: Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1992

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 416 p.

ISBN: 0-8018-4474-6

AUTHOR: Loraux, N.

TITLE: The Children of Athena: Athenian Ideas about Citizenship and the Division Between the Sexes.

PUBLISHED: Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1994

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 271 p.

ISBN: 0-691-03272-6

The renowned French Hellenist takes a look at how the creation myths were used by the ancient Athenians to maintain a collective identity, and the inherent implications for women. Considered provocative, scholarly, and a classic.

Reviewed by the famous classicist Froma Zeitlin, Simon Goldhill of King's College, Cambridge for Bryn Mawr Classical Review, and L'Histoire as a superb book that has lessons to teach us about myths and their meanings, and considered a landmark study that should be on the shelf of everyone interested in the classical city.

AUTHOR: McLeod, Gillian

TITLE: Virtue and Venom: Catalogs of Women from Antiquity to the Renaissance

PUBLISHED: Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 184 p.

ISBN: 0-472-10206-0

This phenomenal book traces the catalogue of notable women through ancient society and into the Renaissance. More than that, it puts into perspective how women evolved collectively, and what that means for present day experiences. Considered an important text in the area of Mythology and Women Studies.

Reviewed by Eve Browning Cole of Princeton University, the catalogue is proof that gender stereotyping has remained unbroken for centuries, and therein lies its greatest contribution.

AUTHOR: Oxford University Press/International Computaprint Corp.

TITLE: The Oxford English Dictionary

PUBLISHED: United States: Tri Star Publishing, 1987

DESCRIPTION: Two CD-ROMs + one user's guide

ISBN: 0-944-67400-3

A little pricey, but considered a fine acquisition for any size library. Since the text is so small in the original book format, this is a good alternative for students and faculty who find reading it problematic. It also acts as a duplicate copy for a constantly used reference source.


TITLE: The Metamorphoses of Ovid, translated by David R. Slavitt

PUBLISHED: Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1994

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, xii, 342 p.

ISBN: 0-8018-4797-4

Considered by classicists throughout the world as one of the best translations available in English today, Slavitt's work captures Ovid's colloquialisms and tones, while providing students with an easy read of the important myths it contains.

AUTHOR: Peradotto, J., and J.P. Sullivan (eds.)

TITLE: Women in the Ancient World: The Arethusa Papers

PUBLISHED: Albany, N. Y.: State University New York Press, 1987

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 389 p.

ISBN: 0-87395-733-3

AUTHOR: Pomeroy, S. B.

TITLE: Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity, 2nd ed.

PUBLISHED: New York: Shocken Book, 1995, c1975

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 265 p.

ISBN: 0-8052-1030-x

This groundbreaking work on women in antiquity is a powerful and interesting commentary on women in myth and in society. Used in all courses that focus on women in myth, and ancient history's treatment of women in general, it is a pleasure to read. An important bibliography that runs nine pages.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Janeway of The New York Times Book Review, The Majority Report, and Library Journal as a splendid textbook, filled with documentation and historical data about women and how they were treated.

AUTHOR: Pomeroy, S. B., ed.

TITLE: Women's History and Ancient History

PUBLISHED: Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 318 p.: ill.

ISBN: 0-8078-19492-2

AUTHOR: Rabinowitz, N. S. and A. Richlin (eds.)

TITLE: Feminist Theory and the Classics

PUBLISHED: New York: Routledge, 1993

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 288 p.

ISBN: 0-415-90645-8

Papers coming out of an important conference held at Cambridge University in 1992, this collection is a call to open the discipline to new interpretations by both men and women. Using the feminist essays, written particularly on Roman topics, the book asks why there is a repeated refusal to consider the male biases of the sources and the historical reality that a small selection of enfranchised males edited history. This encourages exploration of old ground, and the rereading of important classical works so as to set classical scholarship on the road to the 21st century.

Reviewed by Simon Goldhill of King's College, Cambridge, who points out that Cambridge still has only three women holding tenured positions at the university, the same number they had in 1920. Goldhill calls the work an eye opener, and a facilitator for much needed discussion on the topic.

AUTHOR: Reeder, E., (ed.)

TITLE: Pandora: Women in Classical Greece

PUBLISHED: Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1996

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 434 p.: ill. and video

ISBN: 0-691-01125-7

This catalogue was written as the accompanying text for an international traveling exhibition organized by the Walters Art Gallery. Using vases, bronzes, marbles, and terra cottas, Reeder illustrates how women were perceived and treated by society in Classical Greece. Incorporating essays from some giants in the field, she has put together a very important work, and filled a gap in the literature. Myths of Danae, Thetis, Atalanta, and Amymone are given emphasis. The video shows the exhibition, and is narrated by Reeder.

Reviewed by Jennifer Neils of Case Western University, Pandora's Box is called the first major exhibition devoted to women in Greek art and myth. Divine weddings, women as wild animals, and the Amazonian archetype are given high exposure in the work. Neils advises that although an extremely important tool for teaching mythology courses, it is not recommended for the first year student, who has no background.

AUTHOR: Scheid, John and Jasper Svenbro

TITLE: The Craft of Zeus: Myths of Weaving and Fabric (tr. Carol Volk)

PUBLISHED: Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, viii, 226 p.

ISBN: 0-674-17349-2

A complex book, originally written in German, this is not for the first year student. It uses the primary work of women in the ancient world, weaving, as a backdrop to reveal the complexities of political unity, women's roles and the family. Looked upon as a female activity, but connected also to the crafty, interweaving of tales told by women to their husbands, and the effect it has on the political unity of the polis. Myths are used as the focus to show how the ritual act of weaving interlaced both feminine and masculine components to do the gods' bidding, showing the true helplessness of a civilization.

Reviewed by Laura McClure of University of Wisconsin-Madison, who writes that the book identifies some very interesting connections between weaving, politics, the family, and women, pointing out an important relationship among them.

AUTHOR: Slater, P.

TITLE: The Glory of Hera: Greek Mythology and the Greek Family (revised from 1968)

PUBLISHED: Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1992, c1968

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 513 p.

ISBN: 0-691-00222-31

This book explores family relationships in ancient Greek society using a variety of myths to show that the people were as neurotic as the gods. Tracing the mother-son relationships of Hera in a male-dominated society and what that did to family dynamics. Discussions on fatherless households, homosexuality, working mothers, and violence are analyzed and commented upon, asking the question -- did Hera have any glory?

Reviewed by Richard P. Martin of Princeton University, who considers it a classic on narcissism and family relationships in fifth century Athens, and an honest portrayal of our own societal dilemmas. Also chosen by John Peradotto as one of the central texts in the area of myth and psychology.

AUTHOR: Spaeth, Barbette Stanley

TITLE: The Roman Goddess Ceres

PUBLISHED: Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993

DESCRIPTION: Hardcover, 304 p.: ill.

ISBN: 00292-77692-6

A complex study on the Ancient Roman's special goddess Ceres, who was inextricably linked to the Roman family and their agricultural activities. Tied into the cult of the goddess is her relationship with the Greek gods, the etymology and spiritual connections that developed through the centuries. Considered important reading for all students of the Classics and anyone interested in the search for feminine spirituality and New Age religious connectivity.

AUTHOR: Tripp, Edward

TITLE: The Meridian Handbook of Classical Mythology

PUBLISHED: New York: Penguin Books, 1970

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 631 p.

ISBN: 0-452-00927-8

One of the best classical mythological dictionaries available, and used by most teaching faculty for undergraduate courses in mythology. Library Journal has called it a very worthy reference collection for the subject area.

AUTHOR: Tyrrell, W. B.

TITLE: Amazons: A Study in Athenian Mythmaking

PUBLISHED: Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1989

DESCRIPTION: Paperback, 192 p.

ISBN: 0-8018-3858-4

The Amazons lived in matriarchal societies, in the sense of totally female, rather than female dominated. They were a group of warrior women and fought against many mythological heroes. Whether the Amazons had a historical existence or not is unprovable, but Herodotus relates that the Amazons succumbed to a tribe of Scythians and were killed off. These strong women were independent and feared by men in the ancient world. This book looks at how this myth cycle evolved, why it did, and what that says about modern man's unacceptance in large part, of modern independent women.


AUTHOR: The University of Chicago Press (Journals Division)

TITLE: Classical Philology

PUBLISHED: Chicago: University of Chicago Press

DESCRIPTION: Scholarly Journal, quarterly

ISSN: 0009-837X

AUTHOR: Oxford University Press

TITLE: Greece and Rome

PUBLISHED: Oxford: Oxford University Press

DESCRIPTION: Scholarly Journal, semi-annual

ISSN: 0017-3835

AUTHOR: Clarendon Press

TITLE: The Classical Quarterly

PUBLISHED: Oxford: Clarendon Press

DESCRIPTION: Scholarly Journal, quarterly

ISSN: 0009-8388

AUTHOR: University of Calgary

TITLE: The Ancient History Bulletin

PUBLISHED: Calgary, Alberta: Dept. Of Classics, University of Calgary

DESCRIPTION: Scholarly Journal, quarterly

ISSN: 0835-3638

AUTHOR: John Hopkins University Press

TITLE: American Journal of Philology

PUBLISHED: Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press

DESCRIPTION: Scholarly Journal, quarterly

ISSN: 0002-9475

AUTHOR: University of Toronto Press

TITLE: Phoenix

PUBLISHED: Toronto: University of Toronto Press

DESCRIPTION: Scholarly Journal, semi-annual

ISSN: 0031-8299

AUTHOR: Classical Association of Canada

TITLE: Échos du monde classique/Classical Views

PUBLISHED: University of Calgary Press

DESCRIPTION: Scholarly Journal

ISSN: 0012-9356

AUTHOR: Vergilian Society of America

TITLE: Vergilius

PUBLISHED: Vergilian Society of America

DESCRIPTION: Scholarly Journal

ISSN: 0506-7294

Related Papers

Ancient Athenian Women: A Look at their Lives
Ancient Roman Women: A Look at their Lives
Odysseus: Fascinating Man and His Many Transformations
Courtesans and Kings: Ancient Greek Perspectives on the Hetairai
Hesiod's Theogony, Myths and Meaning
Was Antigone Really A 'Bad' Woman? Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood's Reading of Sophocles' Antigone


Bryn Mawr Commentaries, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Davidson, H.R. Ellis. 1964. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Marrou, H.I. 1948. A History of Education in Antiquity. Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Peradotto, John. 1973. Classical Mythology. Urbana: The American Philogical Association.

Smith, Ron. 1981. Mythologies of the World: A Guide to Sources. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English.

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