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Reference Resources: Specialized Mythology Dictionaries

December 16, 2010

Previous roundups on classical mythology have covered LIMC, mythology web sites, and basic print mythology dictionaries.  Today I highlight some more specialized and focused mythology resources:

  • R. Bell, Dictionary of Classical Mythology: Symbols, Attributes, and Associations (Main Reference, 1st Floor, BL715 .B44 1982).  This work is useful for those looking to approach myths in a slightly different way – i.e. by looking for all figures and stories associated with bears, sickles, or some other attribute or association.  Jenkins discusses this as no. 897, describing it as “an excellent companion work” to a more traditional mythology dictionary organized by personages, although because it provides little summary of the myths, it cannot stand alone as a mythology reference.
  • R. Bell, Women of Classical Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary (Main Reference, 1st Floor,  BL715 .B445 1991).  This work covers female figures in Greek and Roman myths, and includes many very obscure ones, so some entries are quite short.  Jenkins (no. 898) calls it “particularly good for differentiating among characters of the same name and for identifying obscure epithets of the goddesses.”

Archaic Athena, Old Temple of Athena
Many western literature classes need a resource for classical myths as they appear in post-classical sources.  The following are quite useful:

  • Brumble, Classical Myths and Legends in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Main Reference, 1st Floor,  PN669 .B78 1998).  Jenkins (no. 899) praises Brumble for his “lengthy annotated bibliography of primary [medieval and Renaissance] sources” but warns that he “covers only those mythical figures who are used allegorically in later literature, so some otherwise important figures are omitted.”
  • Reid, Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1900s (Main Reference, 1st Floor, NX650 .M9 R45 1993).  I have found this work to be useful for both literary and artistic depictions of myths in tyhe periods covered, although its main strength, as Jenkins (no. 921) notes, is its “very full” listing of “more than 30,000 works of art.”  Works are listed chronologically under each myth or figure, and artworks and literature are interfiled, with good detail (current locations and artists, or publication information).

This last is in the Repository (off-campus storage) at UGA, but I can’t resist mentioning it because I have an ongoing interest in names and naming!:

  • NTC’s Classical Dictionary: The Origins of Names of Characters in Classical Mythology (1992). I haven’t looked at this personally, but it covers 1000 proper names from Greek and Roman myths and their etymologies; Jenkins (no. 922) calls it “interesting, if sometimes speculative.” (In the Repository.)

Next up in resource reviews: resources for the study of ancient religion, which is usually treated in a quite separate context from mythology.

 

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