Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Authority for citing mythological source material

Even Ovid is suspect.
“The popularity of mythology means that it is treated by innumerable websites; precisely this popularity means that many of these websites are created and maintained by people whose knowledge of the classics, and indeed of mythology, is far from perfect.”   
                                                 ——David M. Schaps, Handbook for Classical Research, 327

 Schaps' statement above will strike some as being awfully pedantic and classicizingly stuffy. It may not be comforting to this blog's reader(s) to learn that I endorse Schaps' view. With all due respect to the people who work hard at compiling those innumerable websites he mentions, I concur that it is important to keep one's eye on the classical texts from which classical mythology derives. And some knowledge of the classics is important for this. 
    In my opinion, any discussion of the reception of a classical myth should take into account the classical source(s) from which the myth is derived. Then, analysis should note the points of divergence from the classical source-myth and the modern reception of it. Where the versions differ, opportunities for analysis occur. 

    For studying the Reception of Classical Mythology, these resources are useful essential. Reception papers in the ClCv241 should rest upon these sources for authoritative statements of the source myths treated.

Reid, Jane Davidson. The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.  — Great for reception; starts with authority; cites both classical sources and jumping-off points for scholarly research.

Moog-Grünewald, Maria, ed. The Reception of Myth and Mythology. Brill’s New Pauly, Supplements, 4. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010. — Even stronger for reception, but more densely packed that OGCMA; next stop for researching reception of a myth, after Reid.

Simpson, Michael, trans. and comm. Gods and Heroes of the Greeks: the Library of Apollodorus. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1976. — Apollodorus is critically important, but always worth second-guessing; Simpson’s notes help with that, and they often include very useful observations on intriguing receptions of classical myths.

Grimal, Pierre. Ed. and trans. by S. Kershaw and A.R. Maxwell-Hyslop. The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Harmondsworth and New York: Penguin, 1990. — A quick guide worth sticking in your pocket anytime you go to a museum; I carry it on my iPad.

Graves, Robert. Introduction by R. Riordan. The Greek Myths. Harmondsworth and New York: Penguin, 2012. — Quirky, over-the-top erudite, infected by Cambridge ritualism, not nearly as sexy as the Penguin cover (or Riordan’s endorsement!) would have you believe.

Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae. 8 vols. in 16 + index & supplements. Zürich: Artemis, c. 1981 -2009. — For reception per se perhaps less valuable; but for teaching that reception will ever be with us, this is da bomb.