The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Mythology

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Mythology

by Kevin Osborn

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You're no idiot, of course. You can find Greece on a map, know that Kevin Sorbo stars as Hercules on TV, and have heard of Freud's Oedipus theory. But when it comes to classical mythology, you feel like you've been foiled by the gods. Don't curse Zeus yet! The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Classical Mythology has all you need for a working knowledge of the timeless world of Greek and Roman myths.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101191460
Publisher: DK
Publication date: 07/01/1998
Sold by: DK
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 151,375
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Kevin Osborn is the author of more than three dozen books, including two Complete Idiot's Guides.

Dana L. Burgess, Ph.D., is a tenured associate professor of foreign languages and literatures, and classics, at Whitman College. He received both his Ph.D. in Greek and M.A. in Latin from Bryn Mawr College.

Table of Contents

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Mythology Part 1: The Beginning of All Things

1. Tell Me a Story
What a myth is, the functions myths play in a particular culture, and the sources of our knowledge about the mythology of ancient Greece and Rome.

2. O Brave New World
How the world was created, how men were created, and how and why women were created.

3. Hey, I've Heard That Before! The Roots of Classical Myth
Earlier myths from other cultures that may have influenced classical mythology—including the Babylonian genesis and the story of the first hero, Gilgamesh.

4. Author, Author
The ancient poets, playwrights, and other writers whose works have informed us about classical mythology.

Part 2: Welcome to the Pantheon: The Greek Gods

5. Tales of the Titanic
The birth of the first immortals, the ascent and brief reign of the Titans, and their fall to the Olympians.

6. The Reign of Thunder and Lightning: Olympus Under Zeus
The six original Olympians, all children of the Titans Cronus and Rhea: Zeus and Hera (and their stormy marriage), their brothers Poseidon and Hades, and their sisters Hestia and Demeter.

7. The A Team: Olympians All
The seven other major players on Mount Olympus: the goddesses Aphrodite, Athena, and Artemis, and the gods Hephaestus, Ares, Apollo, and Hermes.

8. Friends, Fairies, and Fairy Tale Monsters
The "lesser" gods and goddesses, satyrs, and nymphs, and the battles between the Olympians and both the Giants and the terrifying monster Typhon.

9. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Dionysus
The frenzied and ecstatic rites of the god of wine and his followers—as well as his persecution and ultimate ascent to Olympus.

Part 3: Everyone Needs a Hero

10. The Model Hero: Perseus
The hero who slew Medusa, rescued his wife from a sea monster, and saved his mother from a human monster.

11. What the Hell? Adventures in the Underworld
How Hades found a wife, how Orpheus pursued his wife even after death, and the eternal tortures of the damned.

12. Even the Wisest Cannot See: Oedipus the King
The blindness that caused a visionary hero to kill his father and marry his mother.

13. The Labors of Hercules
The greatest of classical heroes: his persecution by his stepmother Hera and his many thrilling adventures.

14. Crimes of Passion: Jason, Medea, and the Argonauts
The fabled quest for the Golden Fleece, Medea's crimes on Jason's behalf—and her revenge after he dumped her.

15. Lucky in War, Unlucky in Love: Theseus
The hero who defeated the Minotaur and escaped the Labyrinth—and his unfortunate choice of women.

16. All's Not Fair in Love and War: The Fall of Troy
How a crasher at a wedding party sparked a rivalry among goddesses, the abduction of Helen, and the greatest conflict in classical mythology: the Trojan War.

17. Achilles: The Angry Young Hero
The greatest of Greek war heroes: his birth, his near invincibility in combat, his withdrawal from and return to the Trojan War, and his ultimate death on the battlefield.

18. Take the Long Way Home: Odysseus
Why it took Odysseus 20 years to return to his faithful wife Penelope—and his many adventures along the way.

19. Not in Our Stars: Tragic Heroes and Their Fates
Tales that illustrate the pain of unrequited love, the treachery of in-laws, the perils of distrusting your mate, the virtue of listening to your parents, and reasons why you should never, ever lend your child the keys to the family chariot.

Part 4: Friends, Romans, Countrymen

20. When in Rome, Worship as the Romans Worship
The personal relationship that ancient Romans maintained with their gods and goddesses—and the rituals they used to keep these deities strong and vital.

21. Meet the New Boss(es), Same as the Old Boss(es): The Gods and Goddesses of Rome
The hodgepodge of Roman deities—native Latin gods, immigrant Olympians, deified Greeks, and nature spirits.

22. All Roads Lead to Rome: The Odyssey of Aeneas
How Aeneas escaped the sack of Troy and undertook his own odyssey to found the Roman race.

23. Rome Wasn't Built in a Day
How Romulus and Remus battled over the founding of Rome, legends of the city's early kings, and how a rape led to the founding of a republic.


A. Glossary of Terms

B. Who's Who in Classical Mythology

C. What's in a Name? Greek and Roman Gods and Heroes

D. Be Careful What You Wish For: The Fates of Mortals Who Slept with Gods or Goddesses

E. Read More About It


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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Mythology 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic!! The book provides an excellent introduction to Classical Mythology. If you're interested in detailed explainations of all the gods --from Athena to Zeus--and their roles; exciting tales involving heroes such as Hercules, Odysseus, Jason, and Perseus; intense depictions of gruesome monsters such as Medusa, the cyclops, and the Centaurs; and blow-by-blow accounts of the Trojan War, this is your book! Kevin Osborn and Dana L. Burgess provide idiot-proof steps to figuring out who's who in the world of myth--both human and divine. They also provide easy to understand interpretations of the major Greek and Roman tales. I have read many books about Classical Mythology but 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Mythology' by far surpasses any of them. I have read this book twice and plan on reading it again.....It's truely a great book!
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