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The Dictionary of Classical Mythology [Mass Market Paperback]

by John Edward Zimmerman
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 1983 0553257765 978-0553257762
"A knowledge of classical mythology is indispensable in understanding and appreciating much of the great literature, sculpture, and painting of both the ancients and the moderns. Unless we know the marvelous stories of the deities and heroes of the ancients, their great literature and art as much later work down to the present day will remain unintelligible. Through the centuries from Chaucer, Spencer, Shakespeare, and Milton on, not only the major writers but also hundreds of lesser writers have retold the old tales or used them as a point of departure for new interpretations in terms of contemporary problems and psychology."—From author's Introduction

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A knowledge of classical mythology is indispensable in understanding and appreciating much of the great literature, sculpture, and painting of both the ancients and the moderns. Unless we know the marvelous stories of the deities and heroes of the ancients, their great literature and art as much later work down to the present day will remain unintelligible. Through the centuries from Chaucer, Spencer, Shakespeare, and Milton on, not only the major writers but also hundreds of lesser writers have retold the old tales or used them as a point of departure for new interpretations in terms of contemporary problems and psychology."--From author's Introduction

From the Inside Flap

"A knowledge of classical mythology is  indispensable in understanding and appreciating much of  the great literature, sculpture, and painting of  both the ancients and the moderns. Unless we know  the marvelous stories of the deities and heroes of  the ancients, their great literature and art as  much later work down to the present day will remain  unintelligible. Through the centuries from  Chaucer, Spencer, Shakespeare, and Milton on, not only  the major writers but also hundreds of lesser  writers have retold the old tales or used them as a  point of departure for new interpretations in terms  of contemporary problems and psychology."--From  author's Introduction

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (June 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553257765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553257762
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
133 of 135 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent, Concise, but Serious Dictionary August 20, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Zimmerman's classical dictionary is one of the best for an introduction to classical myth and classical dictionaries. The book manages to avoid the story-telling of strictly popular "myth books" and to avoid information that will be extranneous to a novice reader. At the same time, each entry gives sources, so readers know, for example, that the story of Philomela was covered Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Sidney, Keats, and a host of others as well as Apollodorus. In other words, it is a fantastically useful resource for readers of English literature as well as classical. The affordability of the volume (and the portability of it) has made it an absolutely essential first-buy for anyone serious about reading. Even when working in the most precise and demanding forms of editing and annotation of literature, Zimmerman's book is still the first-grab, first-glance entry point to further research.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I needed! May 20, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book has one thing most (as far as I can tell) classical mythology references don't have: PRONUNCIATION for every entry. It's clear and complete, with even obscure references, and includes main sources.
At any price, this is an excellent resource.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Reference Book April 12, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is quite possibly the best, inexpensive reference material ever. This is very good. The entries are clear and concise. The names have pronunciation guides and where they are mentioned. It also has entries over the authors who wrote the works. The entries also have cross-references to other entries in the book. The font of the book is clear and there is enough white space to where the words do not seem cluttered. While this may seem not that important, when you are having to look up a character very fast so you can respond to a question, you will be thankful. I have only one problem with this book. Some of the entries on the groups of characters, such as the muses, only reference you to the names of the characters, not what they did together as a group. Even with this, this book is something you can buy and not worry about making a wrong buy.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the neatest mythology resource I own May 19, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Whenever I want to know about anyone from Greek or Roman mythology, this is the first book I grab. They're all listed alphabetically & there is a satisfyingly concise description of each. Entries tend to be so short that this book is by no means the only one to read about mythology in, but it's an indispensible place to start.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you love the pioneering work on mythology done by Edith Hamilton, then this book is a necessary companion for you. Although she always covered the figures and places fairly well, obviously it becomes simpler when you have a dictionary beside you as an extra source (and at times the one and only) pointing us all in the right direction. If Greek and Roman mythology have ever stumped you beyond what you thought was repair, I promise that this book has the potential to clear that obscurity up. And look at the used price, you can actually AFFORD it, too! YAY! So if you want to better understand Hamilton, or even Joe Campbell, purchase this buddy. It's well worth the investment! Enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Dictionary of Classical Mythology" by J. E. Zimmerman is affordable, portable, and has broad application into understanding ancient customs, beliefs, value systems, and how they impact contemporary academics, astronomy, science, art, literature, religion, and how ancient mythology is alluded to in editorials, lectures, advertisements, and Science-Fiction / Fantasy themes for TV & theater. This book not only references the Greek mythology, but also Roman; explaining that who the Greeks called Zeus, the Romans knew as Jupiter; who the Greeks knew as Aphrodite, the Romans called her Venus; and so on. "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" by Homer, are much more enjoyable if you can connect the mythology influence as part of your understanding. A tour of any museum of antiquities is going to be a better experience if you have this book with you for reference.
"Dictionary of Classical Mythology" by J. E. Zimmerman gives a foundational background of the early ancient Gods & Goddesses; breaking it down into modern terms, and suggesting potential contemporary influences. There are just under 2,100 entries that are given pronunciation and definition. Although abridged, one handy feature kept consistent throughout is when one is mentioned that belongs in a group, the others are mentioned (such as the nine muses); as well as other cross-reference within this book. Usage key, suggestions for further reading, mythological entries, historical entries, biographical entries, variant names and spelling, and other features make this book the one to have; not just the affordability or portability.
An example:
Vulcan (vul' can) The Roman name for the god of fire and metalworking. He established a great forge in the heart of Mount Aetna, in partnership with the great Cyclopes. See Hephaestus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless treasure August 9, 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My grandfather who is now deceased was the author of this book. As a fifth grade student, before computers were even thought of, my grandfather would type out the lists of characters in the book and bring them to our house to give us written quizzes on the different gods and goddesses. He would give me the same test he gave his college students at Arizona State, but allow me to take it as an open book exam! As a fifth grader, I thought this was really fun! To this day, I attribute my love for Greek mythology to his visits and sharing of his valuable knowledge! This is still a valuable resource for high school and college students.
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