Resource Reviews: Mythology Web SitesNovember 16, 2010
Undergraduates in entry-level survey classes like Mythology like to Google. And Googling the name of an ancient mythological figure will certainly bring them results. Good ones? That’s more debatable.
Wikipedia, as with all subjects, is variable. (I have previously posted some general thoughts on Wikipedia on this blog.) The general article on Greek Mythology has a reasonable number of footnotes, many of them to a 2002 Encylopedia Brittanica article. It also has sections at the end for primary sources (which link out to Perseus texts) and secondary sources, many of which are good quality scholarly articles and books. Articles on specific mythological figures, like Hera, are not as good – the level of detail and documentations is inconsistent, there are many facts relayed without footnotes, and the sources listed for further reading are only general ones about classical mythology. (Adopting and improving Wikipedia articles on classical mythology topics might be a good project for an upper-level or honors class!)
Jenkins discusses two websites covering classical mythology:
Encyclopedia Mythica (Jenkins 903). This site contains entries by multiple contributors (listed here), including both PhDs and middle school students, but the majority of the work is by Micha F. Lindemans, who Google reveals to be a Dutch web editor; I could not find any academic credentials of his. The site has been in existence for a long time (2010 marks its 15th anniversary) and is widely linked, but I agree with Jenkins’ evaluation of it as “far inferior to most printed sources.”
Greek Mythology Link (Jenkins 918), by Carlos Parada, a former lecturer in Classics at Lund University, Sweden, began as a outgrowth of his 1993 book, Genealogical Guide to Greek Mythology (Jenkins 917), UGA Main Library 6th Floor Folio BL785 .P37 1993. The site was begun in 1997 and new content is still being added as of fall 2010. Jenkins is not a fan of the book, but of the web site notes: “Extensive primary source references, images, and genealogical information are the great strengths of this site; ease of use is not. It is relatively complete and reliable compared to other mythological resources on the web.” I agree on all counts – it makes good use of primary sources, but navigation is not easy.
Another much-linked web site, not mentioned by Jenkins, is the Theoi Project. Edited by Aaron J. Atsma of New Zealand, for whom I could find no academic credentials using Google, the site is currently showing “What’s New” as of December 2007. This site is heavily linked from Wikipedia, and I would guess as a result sees a lot of traffic from undergraduates. It shares the strengths of the Greek Mythology Link site discussed above, as it also relies heavily on primary sources (in translation, but with accurate scholarly citations) and images. Entries include information about cults (mostly relying on Pausanias) as well as myths, attributes, and associated personages. It is slightly opaque to navigate – the pages include many layers of links – but they are cross-referenced well and the site as a whole is searchable.
My previous Resource Review on Mythology discussed LIMC. Future reviews will cover other print works.