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The Library of Greek Mythology (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – February 25, 1999

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Editorial Reviews


`the primary source book for all collections of Hellenic myths' Oxford Times

`it is an accessible and enjoyable trip through Greek mythology.' Herts Advertiser (St Albans edition), 10 July 1997

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192839241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192839244
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.5 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,491,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Cinna the Poet on August 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Just like the playwrights, Ovid is great in his own sphere (get the Arthur Golding translation--"Shakespeare's Ovid"), but his Metamorphoses are an artistic presentation of a single poet, whereas Apollodorus (though he surely relies on the poets as well) gives the simplest and most demotic/standard versions of the stories. Ovid is Variations on a Theme, while Apollodorus is as close as we get to the theme itself.
Or rather, to the many themes, because his work covers so much more than is in any other work. Some of the more important parts included are: The Theogony (Creation of the Cosmos and Gods), "Rape" (=Abduction) of Persephone, War of Gods and Giants, Prometheus' Fire, the Calydonian Boar, Sisyphus, Jason and the Argonauts, Medea, Bellerophon, Perseus, Hercules (all the great stories) and his children, Europa, Minos, Cadmus, Oedipus and Aftermath, Atlanta and the Apples, Aesculapius and Chiron, Helen's Early Years, the Palladium, Peleus, the Kings of Athens, Theseus, Tantalus, Atreus/Thyestes and all that Mess, Helen and the Trojan War, Achilles and the Iliad, the Odyssey and the other Returns from Troy.
So it's well that this is called The Library, because Apollodorus compresses a huge amount of information into four short books. So rather than being some of the dullest of ancient writing, as one reviewer says, it both treats the greatest stories and does so with economy and swiftness. This is not only a valuable reference book (as is Robert Graves's Greek Myths), but the work I often recommend as the best presentation for anyone who wants a no-nonsense overview of the whole of Greek mythology (and nice because it's one of the ancient Greeks themselves retelling the stories).
Now, if you want a cheap copy, just get the Oxford one.
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Claude Avary on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The World's Classics sereies has presented a fine new translation of the Mythology Library of "Apollodorus" (a name of convenience for an author we know nothing about). Translator and editor Hard cleanly presents the writer's exhaustive compilation of Greek mythology, and through careful division and labelling of the sections, reveals some of the author's meticulous categorization. For hard-core mythology nuts, this is an indispensible reference: the Greek myths straight from a collector of antiquity, and our only glimpse at some important lost works. But a word of warning to the layman: Apollodorus is possible the most dull writer of the ancient world, and he make no attempts to create an entertaining or even readable work. It's all dry and dense -- nothing a translator can really do about that! If you're looking for a more entertaining ancient compliation of mythology, try Ovid's delightful METAMORPHOSES.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater on August 31, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Robin Hard's version of "The Library of Greek Mythology" is one of several modern English translations of an ancient (date disputed) compilation (*bibliotheke* - hence "library) of summaries of stories of the gods and heroes of Greece (but not Rome). It seems to be based, wherever it can be checked, on excellent sources; or, possibly, on earlier compilations which had excellent sources. It was not intended for pleasure reading, but for use as a reference manual, although we have evidence that in Byzantine times some readers used it as a short "history" of mythological times.

If the name of the author is correct, he cannot be the "Apollodorus the Grammarian" to whom the work used to be attributed. Unfortunately, this is the only name we have for it. Given the lack of internal fraudulent claims, however the bare name seems to me better than "Pseudo-Apollodorus," as it is sometimes given, since "pseudo-" is likely to be taken as a reflection on the author, instead of early scholars.

Considering the huge amount of ancient Greek literature that has been lost, and the primary sources to which this compiler (whoever and whenever he was), seems to have had access it is even more regrettable that a portion of "The Library" survives only in an abridged form. (Fortunately, part of the re-summarized material is Homeric; unfortunately, some of it is not.)

Hard's translation is a clear presentation of the material, with an excellent introduction and helpful notes, as one would expect from the Oxford World's Classics series in recent years. It can be read alone, consulted, or, I think, used as a class text (not in my personal experience, however.) It is not the only translation available.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jan Dierckx on April 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
The main literary source for students of Greek mythology is the so-called 'Apollodori Bibliotheca' (Library of Apollodorus).
It was compiled in the first century AD and was the first attempt to unify Greek mythology. It's the only work of his kind to survive from classical Antiquity. The Library of Apollodorus is a unique guide to Greek mythology, from the origin of the Universe to the Trojan war.

It's a pity though that a lot of the myths in this work are a summary of the original story. Nonetheless it's the most important source of Greek mythology and the main source of "The Greek Myths" by Robert Graves.
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