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.
Myths and Legends of the Ancient World
Jason’s quest for the golden fleece, Echo’s doomed love for Narcissus and the visits to Hades by Ulysses and Aeneas are among the 49 Greco-Roman myths retold here by expert storytellers of the 19th and early 20th century. Inspired by the versions of ancient authors, they recreate an age when mortal heroes mixed with vengeful gods and faced such dangerous creatures as the Sirens and the Minotaur.
In Search of Mythical Lands
Tales of the wonders of Braesil, off the west coast of Ireland, by sixth-century monks; the fabled continent of Atlantis, mapped by Athanasius Kircher in 1644; or Crocker Land, the ‘last great geographical enigma of the North’, supposedly sighted by Donald Baxter Macmillan in 1914 … For centuries seafarers have believed in islands that never existed. Dirk Liesemer tells the story of 30 such ‘phantoms’, along with maps based on those of cartographers from Angelino Dulcert (fl.1325) to Google Earth.
A History of Deception, 5,000 Years of Fakes, Forgeries, and Fallacies
Judgement Days that never happened, too many pieces of the True Cross, spirit mediums, the forged evidence against Dreyfus, a fake Modigliani nude, and pseudocides ... Exploring the ‘vast swamp of morally dubious incidents’, this history reflects on how the unsuspecting are duped, as well as the dishonesty and ingenuity of the deceivers. All the most notorious forgers and confidence tricksters are here, along with some well-intentioned trickery such as Britain’s Operation Mincemeat during the Second World War.
The Impossible Zoo
An Encylopedia of Fabulous Beasts and Mythical Monsters
Folklore and mythology are full of fantastical creatures that never existed but still exert a powerful hold on our imaginations. This A–Z catalogue of fabulous zoology surveys humanity’s attempts to understand the natural and supernatural worlds through fictitious giant beasts, shape changers and composite monsters, including mermaids, manticores and those (such as the unicorn) that were engendered by misdescriptions of real animals. Off-mint.
The Professor and the Parson
A Story of Desire, Deceit and Defrocking
In 1958 an Oxford postgraduate calling himself Robert Peters claimed that he was being persecuted by the Bishop of Oxford, and he appealed to Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper for help. This strange request and Trevor-Roper’s detailed dossier on Peters piqued the curiosity of Adam Sisman, the historian’s biographer, setting him on the trail of an extraordinary con-man whose career included the priesthood, academic posts (without qualifications), eight marriages, three prison sentences and a disastrous appearance on Mastermind.
Warrior and King
King Arthur, long regarded as the leader of oppressed Britons against invading Saxon hordes, emerges from this fresh analysis as a boastful Irish raider who used his battles to carve out a kingdom in western Britain. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Carleton combines evidence from archaeology, literature and the study of place names to reconstruct the career of the 6th-century ruler, who he suggests was a pagan warlord, and to propose a new location for the renowned Battle of Badon.
The Iliad and the Odyssey
Introducing this edition of Homer’s two epic poems, Michael Dirda writes that ‘few other works ... have so deeply entered our cultural bloodstream’. Here, in their entirely, are Samuel Butler’s prose translations of the exploits of Achilles, Agamemnon and Odysseus and their mortal and immortal adversaries.
A Rum Affair
A True Story of Botanical Fraud
In 1954 Professor John Heslop Harrison published his discovery of several plants on the island of Rum that were found nowhere else in Britain – they had, he claimed, survived the Ice Age. John Raven, a gifted amateur botanist, went to investigate and revealed Harrison’s claim as untrue, but academic botanists closed ranks and Raven’s report was never published. Karl Sabbagh tells the story of the two men and this strange episode of botanical fraud.
An Abominable History
Graham Hoyland, who once found and filmed yeti footprints in Bhutan, investigates our enduring fascination with the ancient legend of this large primate unknown to science. He considers possible explanations for yeti sightings but also delves deeper into the strange world of ‘cryptids’ to ask why we want to believe in the existence of mythical beasts – and what our ‘post-truth’ world can learn from those reports that have been revealed as hoaxes.
The True Origins of the Once and Future King
Adam Ardrey follows up the detective work in his Finding Merlin with this account of his wider investigations into the legend of King Arthur. He reaches the startling conclusion that the historical Arthur came from Scotland, and also presents evidence to suggest that some of the story’s most familiar features – the Round Table, the Sword in the Stone and the Lady of the Lake – have their origins in the landscapes of the Scottish Highlands.
London has a rich tradition of esoteric practices, obscure institutions and forgotten locations. This volume reveals its hidden history, from the Elizabethan necromancer John Dee to Madame Blavatsky, from the occult designs of Wren and Hawksmoor to the notorious Aleister Crowley. The book charts London’s mysterious psychogeography, explores its myths and legends, and provides a gazetteer of its most resonant locations.
Kings of the Grail
The location and even the very existence of the Holy Grail have been shrouded in mystery for centuries. In this book the authors present the texts of parchment documents recently discovered in Egypt, revealing that the relic passed through the hands of kings and reached the Iberian peninsula in the mid eleventh century, having previously been preserved in Jerusalem. This evidence is combined with material from other sources to identify the Grail as a chalice now kept at León in northern Spain.
The World of King Arthur
The myth of Camelot has been one of the most influential in the western tradition, with Arthur acting as a symbol of Christian rulership, national monarchy and romantic nostalgia. This illustrated survey of its long cultural history begins with the background of post-Roman Britain and follows the development of stories about Arthur and his knights, from medieval art and literature to Wagnerian opera and comic books.
A Brief Guide to Native American Myths and Legends
The world of Native American mythology is inhabited by such fantastical and capricious characters as the shape-shifting trickster Coyote and the mischievous Blue Jay. The seminal study of these sacred tales was written by the Scottish folklorist Lewis Spence in 1914; this updated edition has a new introductory essay, commentary on Native American culture and stories from tribes not covered by Spence, such as the Inuit.
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.
In Search of England's Lost King
Francis Young, himself at the forefront of the search to locate the lost coffin of King Edmund, tells the story of the historical search for the real man behind the legendary East Anglian king killed by the Vikings in 869. The book traces Edmund’s progress from martyred king to England’s national saint in medieval times; and describes current research into Edmund’s burial in the abbey at Bury St Edmunds and the present whereabouts of his mortal remains.
A Brief History of the Amazons
Women Warriors in Myth and History
Ancient Greek myth tells of ferocious female warriors called Amazons who lived near the Black Sea and slaughtered their male children. Could the story reflect a real matriarchal society, or perhaps a women-only religious cult? This book follows the author’s quest for the evidence, not only in ancient texts and artistic depictions but also in archaeological discoveries such as the graves of Iron-Age women buried with arrows, swords and armour.
Animals in Myth, Legend, and Literature
In this great survey of animals and their symbolism, Boria Sax has abandoned biological classification in favour of tradition, linking the animals not only to their natural habitat and habits, but also to human cultural values and practices. The resulting categories range from almost human (apes, monkeys, bears, beavers, porcupines and pigs), through tricksters, musicians, man’s best friends, beasts of burden and tough guys to divinities (owls, eagles, doves and, remarkably, the rhinoceros).
Knight of the Goddess
Gawain, nephew of King Arthur, was once the most important knight at Arthur’s Court, yet as the popularity of the Arthurian legend grew his character evolved into a womanizing villain. Written by an expert on Arthurian mythology, this volume explores hundreds of years of British storytelling to uncover how such a transformation occurred and to restore Gawain’s reputation. This American edition was previously published in the UK as Gawain: Knight of the Goddess.
A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths
From the birth of the gods to the aftermath of the Trojan War and Plato's myth of Atlantis, Kershaw tells the stories of Greek mythology and discusses the wide-ranging influence of these tales on western culture. The book's final section surveys the ways in which people have tried to understand and rationalize myths, from antiquity to the present.