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Classical Mythology: Images and Insights [Paperback]

Stephen Harris , Gloria Platzner
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 4, 2007 0073535672 978-0073535678 5
Classical Mythology: Images and Insights grew out of the authors’ many years of teaching Greek and Roman myth to undergraduates at California State University, Sacramento. Unique among textbooks on this topic, our book approaches the study of myth through complete works of Greco-Roman literature, including six complete Greek dramas and generous excerpts from the narratives of Homer, Hesiod, Virgil, and Ovid, and through carefully-chosen examples of Classical works of art, both painting and sculpture. Combining literary masterpieces with the visual arts, this integrative approach offers readers a comprehensive experience with both cognitive and aesthetic appeal.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen L. Harris is Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Religious Studies at California State University, Sacramento, where he served ten years as department chair. A Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. A member of the Society of Biblical Literature, his publications include Understanding the Bible (8th edition, 2011); The Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (with Robert Platzner); Classical Mythology: Images and Insights (with Gloria Platzner); Exploring the Bible; and Fire Mountains of the West: The Cascade and Mono Lake Volcanoes, a survey of volcanic hazards on the U.S. Pacific Coast; and for National Geographic Books, Restless Earth, a study of global earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. He contributed the chapter on “Archaeology and Volcanism” to the Encyclopedia of Volcanoes (Academic Press, 2000).

Gloria Platzner teaches in the English and Humanities programs at California State University, Sacramento, including courses on Classical Mythology and World Mythology.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; 5 edition (June 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0073535672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0073535678
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good, but at times maddening November 26, 2002
By A Customer
Harris and Platzner's Classical Mythology is thorough and eloquently written. I particularly like the use of original sources (Hesiod, Homer, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, Virgil and Ovid)along with indepth analyses of the works themselves. Sometimes I think the authors' interpretations are a bit of a stretch, but nonetheless they are thoughtful and beautifully written.
However, I've decided NOT to use this as a textbbook for my introductory college level course, for a couple of reasons:
1) The organization: not infrequently myths are mentioned briefly in relation to something else before they are fully covered in their own right--a problem, I would think, for beginners. The book is arranged thematically--gods, male and female heroes, the view of after life, world in decline--rather than in a more straightforward myth-telling scheme (as in Barry Powell's book). All of this is quite interesting to someone who has a mid-level understanding of mythology, but I think it makes it a little harder for initiates to grasp the basic myths and their variants.
2) Practical usage: in some senses maddening. For example, simple chapter numerals at the top of each page would be incredibly helpful so that when the text refers to another chapter (which it does continually--because of the way the material is organized) you could find that particular chapter instead of having to rifle through the pages. Then there is the seemingly arbitrary way in which some names and terms are included in the glossary and some are not. Why? Even more arbitrary--and irritating!--is the decision to give helpful pronunciation guides to some terms but not others. Why Minos, for instance, but not moirae; or Aurora (really) but not Anaxagoras (where does the accent go?). Also, a more useful map would help.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of primary texts to go with the images & insights December 31, 2003
I managed to make it all the way to the 21st century before I actually made my students buy a single textbook that cost this much, but after my first semester of using the Fourth Edition of "Classical Mythology: Images & Insights" by Stephen L. Harris and Gloria Platzner I do not have any major regrets. In the past I have liked to rely mainly on primary texts, such as Homer's "Iliad" and a collection of Greek tragedies, supplemented by handouts, because I prefer that my students come up with their own interpretations. However, teaching a Classical Mythology course on line changes the dynamics of the teacher-student interaction, which made the switch to this textbook a viable option.
"Classical Mythology" is divided into five sections: (1) The Nature and Function of Myth, which introduces students to the Greek myths and ways of interpreting them; (2) Epic Myths and the Heroic Quest, which covers creation stories, the gods and goddesses, and the epic heroes from Perseus and Hercules to the Trojan War and the quest for Odysseus; (3) Tragic Heroes and Heroines looks at the tragic vision and the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; (4) The World of Roman Myth explores the differences between Greek myths and Roman realities with an emphasis on Virgil's "Aeneid" and Ovid's "Metamorphoses"; and (5) The Western World's Transformations of Myth" is a single chapter section that explores the persistence of myth in terms of modern transmissions of classical myths. I found it necessary to break up Part II of the textbook so that the deities and the heroes were dealt with separately. This is a natural division that is certainly reflected in the organization of the chapters in that part.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars controversal but lots of good primary text May 15, 2000
I use it in my own introductory college course on mythology for two reasons. First the amount of primary materials covered allows one to forgo lots of other books being ordered, a consideration for academia at this point in time. Second, the controversal interpretations of ancient society and the meaning of the myths can be balanced by either the teacher of Powell's "Classical Myth" book. I think that for the college level, this exposure to different views is valuable because it challenges students to think. Not useful beyond the introductory level though.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wordy, but interesting February 7, 2006
We used this book in my 300-level college class and even though I found the authors to be frustratingingly wordy at times, it was still an intersting book with thought-provoking insights.

As a child, I used to read about the myths of Rome and Greece in the same light that I read fairytales. For a long time, although I knew much more about Greece and Rome than the average person, it wasn't until I started reading this book that I began to look at these myths as more than just entertaining "stories."

The secondary text (nicely supported by selections of well-known and obscure primary texts) highlight the fact that these were true beliefs and religion in their time.

Even better, the text branches out and provides commentary on mythology from a wide variety of cultures besides Greece and Rome, which helps to illuminate parrallels and points of diversion in the history of man and religion.

Cultural insights help point out the societal factors that created the gods, monsters and myths. Imagine reading that Medusa's phallic-like snake-hair and her beheading may have been a representation of unconscious male fears about castration!

Or having the striking similarities between the wild, wine god, Dionysus set up in blatant comparison to the life and works of Jesus Christ.

While much of the text is the opinion of the authors and one would do well to remember that you don't HAVE to accept every one of their interpretations, this text does a good job of showing the human, psychological side to mythology.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
For a used book and it's price, it was really good.the book was close to brand new. I had no problem
Published 5 months ago by Meng
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Information
The book is comprised of well written information. I used this text for a college course and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Published 5 months ago by Lucas
4.0 out of 5 stars all the information necessary
It had all the information I needed and was clean and intact when I received it. A good quality used book.
Published 9 months ago by Noureen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great.
I was worried originally when I bought this book for so cheap, but it exceeded my expectations. It is in very good condition, and I am pleased overall with it.
Published on August 25, 2011 by cramer15
5.0 out of 5 stars Lush and compelling
Used for a university course, this book is surprisingly quick to read and highly compelling. Greek myth is discussed and explained in vivid detail, while exploring beyond the... Read more
Published on October 13, 2010 by Andariel Halo
5.0 out of 5 stars It was just as the doctor ordered!
I had no issues with this order. It came in plenty of time before summer school started.
Published on June 15, 2010 by Robert C. Reese
4.0 out of 5 stars School Book
Most of the reading was very fun and informative. Some parts were a little dry.
Published on March 25, 2010 by Crystal Pepper
3.0 out of 5 stars a myth
The book itself is great. It goes into a lot of the meaning behind the myths. The binding of the book came apart after about 6 weeks. Read more
Published on October 11, 2008 by James Culver
4.0 out of 5 stars awesome and fast.........
I received the book very very fast. It was super cheap saved well over 50 dollars. I would do bussiness again.
Published on September 29, 2008 by Maria Silvia Nuncio
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review
This is a great book. Easy to read and the questions at the end of the chapters make it a sure fire way to make sure you understood the material.
Published on September 19, 2008 by Sunshine
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