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Classical Myth (7th Edition) 7th Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0205176076
ISBN-10: 0205176070
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Barry B. Powell , after graduation from Berkeley and Harvard, taught at Northern Arizona University, then took a job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he taught for 34 years. He is a master of many languages, both ancient and modern, and for many years taught Egyptian philology and culture at Wisconsin, in addition to courses in Classics. His book Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet, which advanced the thesis that one man invented the Greek alphabet in order to record the poet Homer, has become a classic and changed the way we think about the origins of Western Culture. He has written many other books, including two novels and a book of poetry. His book Classical Myth, is the best-selling book on the topic, and is now in its seventh edition. His book Homer is the best-selling study of this author. The Greeks: History, Culture, and Society (second edition, with Ian Morris) is widely used in college classrooms. He is currently preparing a translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he and his wife Patricia enjoy the company of their children and grandchildren.  

 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson; 7 edition (July 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0205176070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0205176076
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Chrol on March 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have taught mythology at the university level at various insitutions for the more than a decade now. Indeed, when I first began was when the first edition of Powell came out. At that time it was quite useful as his prose is modestly engaging, and the large swathes of original material and the occasional illustrations he includes is quite useful.

However, as he has progressed through four editions and doubled his price (!), he has become less useful. To his credit, the online materials are good for the novice, and, as I previously mentioned, there is a fair amount of translated primary text. However, his deficits now outweigh his benefits. When Powell summarizes plots of texts in the middle of a longer excerpt, often his interpretation of events occludes what actually happens. As he has progressed through various editions, his own ideas are now more confident in his eyes and some of his more controvertial claims which in the first edition were presented as "some scholars believe [historical situation] may have contributed to [textual effect]" are now presented as "[historical situation] caused [textual effect]." As another reader notes, some of his historical contextualizations are either suspect or absent. Lastly, the cost is prohibitive.

Now that I have learned a fifth edition is soon to be out and my students will no longer be able to purchase used copies, I have declined to order his book for this fall and don't foresee returning to him in the future.
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By A Customer on October 18, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The popularity of Classical Myth as a text for college classes is quite understandable; Classical Myth is a useful synthesis of textbook- and sourcebook-style material. The writing is engaging and the level of detail is appropriate--enough to challenge students but not so much as to overwhelm. Moreover, the third edition offers several significant improvements over the second edition. Let me share a few of the changes that jumped out at me:
The chapters on the Olympian gods have been re-organized so that chapter six covers Zeus and Hera, chapter seven covers the male Olympians, and chapter eight covers the female Olympians. In the previous edition, the logic of the division of deities was less clear--chapter six covered Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, Hades and Aphrodite; chapter seven treated Apollo and Artemis; and chapter 8 discussed Hephaestus, Ares, Athena, and Hermes.
There is also a new chapter, chapter twelve, entitled "Introduction to Heroic Myth." It is a short chapter which introduces students to the idea of the hero. Although the chapter is new, much of the material it contains is actually not new--it comes from chapter fifteen in the previous edition which was a discussion of myths related to Heracles. In my opinion, this chapter could usefully be expanded--it is quite short, and there is a great deal that can be said about the figure of the hero in myth and in interpretation of myth which is not said here.
Finally, lists of key terms have been added at the end of each chapter, an addition which may be useful to students.
However, I have a few quibbles with aspects of the previous edition that still appear in the third edition. Let me offer two general reflections and then one very specific objection.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Nothing much has been changed from the seventh edition, except for a new preface and the correction of some typos. I believe it's a scam by the publisher to extort more money out of college students.
What the publisher provides in the way of auxiliary materials for the instructor is piss-poor.
I agree with Martin's criticism of Powell's including the passage about the Iranians and that awful "300" film that made Persians look like effete aliens. I also am puzzled why Powell holds on to the outdated theory that the Etruscans moved to Etruria from Asia Minor.
I have been forced to use Powell involuntarily in my college classroom. I believe Oxford's Classical Mythology by Morford, Lenardon, and Sham is a better textbook.
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Format: Paperback
I took the Classical Myth class that Professor Powell teaches at Madison. Although I did not have Professor Powell, the class centered around the Classical Myth book that he wrote. This book is an excellent textbook because it assumes no prior knowledge of classical myth on the part of the reader. Although I used it as a textbook, I found it very interesting to read and consider it worthwhile outside reading. He effectively covers all topics of Greek myth, including the gods and the heroes, but also presents interesting sidenotes concerning aetiologies (the Greek beliefs as to the origin of certain phenomenons) and the origin of English words used today. Powell tries to relate Greek myth to earlier myth such as that used by the ancient Sumerians, and this is the only part of the book that I didn't like. It made the myth too confusing and was very difficult to remember. However, he provides an excellent relation of Greek Myth to Roman myth in one of the final chapters of the book. Finally, the pictures in the book are fantastic because they show how the ancient Greeks passed on the stories they told in myth through their art. In conclusion, Powell's book was absolutely wonderful. This was one of my favorite classes at UW-Madison because the book really tied everything together and showed the importance of myth in everyday Greek life. My only caution is not to take the book too seriously, or you will start beliving in Zeus and Heracles, just like the Greeks did.
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