The Dictionary of Mythology
An A–Z of Themes, Legends and Heroes
From Scandinavia to the Pacific Islands, ancient cultures around the world have developed rich mythologies to answer humans’ most fundamental questions. This abridgement of Coleman’s sizeable reference work focuses on recurring themes, such as the significance of twins, dogs and rainbows in different belief systems. It also covers the mass of stories clustered around specific legendary figures, especially King Arthur, and events including Creation and the Trojan War.
in Bite-sized Chunks
Highlighting different cultures’ richly imaginative responses to the most basic questions about nature and mortality, this primer introduces the gods and goddesses, heroes and monsters of the world’s great storytelling traditions, from Australian and Maori tales to the Norse mythology of medieval Scandinavia.
When in Rome
Social Life in Ancient Rome
With hundreds of excerpts from contemporary sources, this survey of Roman social history features the words of elite male authors alongside evidence from correspondence, inscriptions, graffiti and curse tablets that record the voices of women, and those from lower classes. Organized thematically, the book covers topics including family life, food and medicine, but also deals with issues less often addressed in modern accounts of ancient Rome, such as domestic abuse, disability and female genital mutilation.
Norse Myths and Legends
Viking Tales of Gods and Heroes
The ancient tales of Norse mythology have recently been reaching new audiences through films and comics, but the original stories can be hard to disentangle from the medieval texts in which they are preserved. This selection of myths and legends is presented in more accessible retellings which incorporate commentary on the stories’ significance within the history, literature and world-view of the Vikings.
The History and Legends of Viking England
After a brief history of the ‘Viking Age’, which saw the movement of peoples from Scandinavia to the British Isles, Eleanor Parker turns to medieval chronicles and legends about the Vikings or ‘Danes’. Although the medieval narratives often portray the Scandinavians as raiders whose purpose was plunder and destruction, Parker’s close study of the stories reveals other motives – including participation in English politics and the need to settle – and she traces the positive Viking contribution to culture and identity in England.
The Silbury Treasure
The Great Goddess Rediscovered
Situated just south of Avebury, Silbury Hill in Wiltshire is Europe's tallest prehistoric structure; when this book was first published in 1976, recent archaeological investigations had suggested that the hill was not, as had previously been believed, a burial mound. Dames surveys the history of earlier digs at the hill, then uses comparative archaeological evidence, astronomy, ethnography, folklore, mathematics and place-name research to argue that the shape of the site represents the Neolithic Great Goddess.
Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites (1919)
The most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece, the Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis, near Athens. Dudley Wright (1867–1948), who wrote widely on subjects such as vampires and Freemasonry, provides a concise account of the Eleusinian rituals, incantations, prayers and songs.
The Myth of Paganism
Nonnus, Dionysus and the World of Late Antiquity
Part of the Classical Literature and Society series, this study focuses on the role of the poet in the emerging Christian world of the fourth to sixth centuries CE and argues against the traditional view of a 'simple binary opposition' between pagans and Christians. Instead, Shorrock presents the Christian world of late antiquity as imbued with the Classical past, and demonstrates the complex ways in which Classical culture was embraced, integrated, rejected or ignored by poets of the period.