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Greek Nymphs: Myth, Cult, Lore [Hardcover]

Jennifer Larson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 28, 2001 0195122941 978-0195122947
Greek Nymphs: Myths, Cult, Lore is the first comprehensive study of the nymph in the ancient Greek world. This well-illustrated book examines nymphs as both religious and mythopoetic figures, tracing their development and significance in Greek culture from Homer through the Hellenistic period. Drawing upon a broad range of literary and archaeological evidence, Jennifer Larson discusses sexually powerful nymphs in ancient and modern Greek folklore, the use of dolls representing nymphs in the socialization of girls, the phenomenon of nympholepsy, the nymphs' relations with other deities in the Greek pantheon, and the nymphs' role in mythic narratives of city-founding and colonization. The book includes a survey of the evidence for myths and cults of the nymphs arranged by geographical region, and a special section of the worship of nymphs in caves throughout the Greek world.

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Editorial Reviews


"The strength of Larson's project lies in its meticulous presentation of detail, her careful survey of the literary and epigraphical sources, and her clear translations of Greek material probably unfamiliar to most readers." --Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"...Jennifer Larson's Greek Nymphs: Myth, Cult, Lore is a first-of-its-kind, sweeping study that spans the archaic, classical, and Hellenistic periods of Greek history. No stone is left unturned in this encyclopedic primer on the function of ubiquitous female deities known as nymphs and their cave-bound cults in the literature and landscape of ancient Greece. Larson's book is generously illustrated (with images of marble reliefs, coins, terra-cotta dolls, and caves) and accessible both to classicists and interested members of the public at large." --Signs

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jennifer Larson is Associate Professor of Classics at Kent State University.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195122941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195122947
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,600,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nympholepsy! July 3, 2001
Although intended for the classicist, this excellent, erudite book is accessible to general readers (like me). Prof. Larson surveys everything that is known about nymphs, from their appearances in Greek literature to evidence of cult worship. She deals with little-known subjects like nympholepsy (which is NOT what Nabokov thought it was) and leads us on a tour of caves devoted to nymph worship. Illustrated with numerous black and white photos (but no Victorian paintings of nymphs; it isn't that kind of book). Hard to believe this is the first book on nymphs, but there will be no need for a second; this is definitive.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended September 30, 2002
This is a rewarding attempt to qualify the current scholarship on the Nymphs. A major asset of the book is its diachronic overview of the material, from ancient to Modern Greece. This provides a depth and perspective lacking from many similar endeavours in Classics. Methodologically, Larson leans rather to the psychosexual than to the structuralist analysis. The book could be improved in some respects. The chapter "Nymphs in Poetry" is somewhat overdrawn and repetitive. The book has a lot of typos when it comes to the Greek, especially the Modern. In general, however, Larson has provided us with a specimen of fresh scholarship.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Providential Text January 29, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recently took an undergraduate course on Greek and Roman religion, in which I decided to write my research paper on nymphs--specifically, on the experiences of nympholepts, who were seemingly possessed by them. I'm fascinated both by ecstatic experience and religious practices which focus reverence on nature, so this topic seemed perfect. Unfortunately, though, I quickly found that, although there have been thorough archeological investigations of the sites associated with nymphs, this topic is extremely obscure, and it's unlikely to find even brief notes of nymphocentric practices in books on Greek culture and religion, let alone to find a whole book dedicated to the area.
Fortunately, though, Jennifer Larson saved my grade with this book. It's a thorough compendium on all things related to nymphs, on every mention of them in the most obscure texts of antiquity, as well as a thorough overview of their cultic sites. She thoroughly breaks down all the information by geographic location and thoroughly lists all of the nymphs' associations with other gods. She does include a fair bit of her own analysis, which, as another reviewer said, leans toward the psychosexual, but this isn't incredibly hard to swallow, given that most mythological narratives about nymphs are essentially explorations of human sexuality or the female life cycle--and, even if you're not a fan of her interpretations, you simply can't find all of this knowledge together in any other text.
All in all, if you need a book on nymphs, rejoice! This is the one you need.
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