From School Library Journal
Grade 10 Up-Culled from the Oxford Classical Dictionary, third edition (2003), these entries cover the whole of spiritual life in the ancient Mediterranean, from Minoan-Mycenaean religion through Near Eastern Judaisms [sic] and early Christianities [sic]. The compact introductory essay on mythology, pluralism, and reception of myths is a model of comprehensiveness and clarity. Most entries cover personalities (gods, heroes, authors, historical figures), but several of them offer concise summaries of related topics: religious architecture, funerary art, apocalyptic literature, places and rituals, organizations, and calendars. Entries on several dozen concepts (e.g., fasting, deformity, theodicy, pollution, the body, hubris) are fascinating. However, there is no entry for "Underworld." References to substantial retellings in ancient texts (e.g., Sophocles, Homer) follow relevant entries. Cross-references are easily identified. Pronunciation help, alas, is omitted. A brief annotated bibliography, thematic index, six genealogies, and three detailed maps greatly add to the volume's utility. Longer than Mike Dixon-Kennedy's Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology (ABC-CLIO, 1998), which does not include religion, this book emphasizes historical connections. It devotes a half page to Xenophanes, for instance, who does not appear in Kennedy's volume, but omits Encyclopedia's"Xanthus." The specialized nature of the dictionary makes it essential for only a few collections. Nevertheless, it is an excellent addition to the series.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
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The content of this encyclopedia is a selection of entries from the third edition of The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3d ed., 1996). The entries are broad in range, covering not just mythology but also "religious places and religious officials, divination, astrology, and magic." In addition, there are many entries on Judaism and Christianity, providing broader context to religious life in the Greco-Roman world.
Although entries have been taken from The Oxford Classical Dictionary, changes have been made. Some entries have been shortened. Untransliterated Greek, references to ancient texts within the body of an entry, and what the editors term obscure language have been deleted. Supplemental bibliographies have also been eliminated, although entries for individuals (e.g., Hecuba, poseidon) often conclude with some references to their appearance in ancient texts by such authors as Homer, Hesiod, and Livy. The work also includes a short annotated bibliography to serve as a guide for further reading. An introductory essay describes local, Panhellenic, and Roman myths and their reception throughout history. A thematic index groups entries by broad subject area (e.g., "Gods and Heroes," "Places"), and there are see references throughout the work. A few maps serve as the only illustrations.
Libraries owning The Oxford Classical Dictionary will not gain much by purchasing The Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion. The elimination of much of the scholarly content may diminish its usefulness to academic collections. On the other hand, some public and high-school libraries may find the work more accessible and thus of greater benefit. In this case, consideration ought to be given first to the Cassell Dictionary of Classical Mythology (1998). Although its scope is somewhat narrower, the entries are thorough, scholarly, and accessibly written; there are many illustrations; and the scholarly apparatus of references to ancient texts and other supplemental material is unobtrusively included for those wishing to pursue their research further. RBB
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