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Mythology: The Illustrated Anthology of World Myth and Storytelling Hardcover – September 24, 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
Before I get into the "meat" of the book, I'd like to discuss the illustrations. It is difficult to imagine the amount of study and research it must have taken to find these illustrations. They range from thousand year old papyrus illustrations to frescoes to ancient pottery, to antique stone and jade carvings to statuary and on and on. They come from a myriad of ancient cultures and sources. If there were no text in MYTHOLOGY, it would be worth owning just for the art work.
But text there is! The text is broken down by geographical area, and by culture within that area. Also included, are maps where appropriate. For instance, the locations of the labors of Herakles (Hercules to the Romans) which I will discuss further later.
From the standpoint of depth of detail, this is not a scholarly reference. Rather, it is the work of good story tellers, for, after all, the ancient myths were good stories. By this I mean that the book is aimed at the layman (like me), and wherever you open it at random, you will find a great tale of ancient gods, monsters, giants, heroes, and just plain humans. These tales have come down through time, some predating the advent of writing.
MYTHOLOGY opens with a general discussion of mythology, comparing myths with magic mirrors which reflect the hopes and fears of ancient civilizations, and often, those of our civilization, today. Mythological tales, we are told, form the basis of much of the world's literature, philosophy and religion.Read more ›
The good points include the wide range of mythological stories that are related. While Greek mythology - certainly the most well-known and influential in Western culture - gets more space than any other culture (over one hundred pages), there is plenty of space dedicated to the whole world of mythology: Egyptian, Babylonian, Norse, Chinese, Indian and Japanese amongst them. A wide range of illustrations and photos help tell the stories.
Although wide-ranging, I think there are some noticeable gaps, both within specific sections (for example, no story of Eros and Psyche in the Greek myths) and significant types of myths that are neglected. It would have been interesting to see a little about the Arthurian legends, which are a big part of British mythology. The other thing that is missing is any sort of comparisons. While many cultures had creation and flood stories, there is little direct commentary on the similarities or differences. It would have also been interesting to see some discussion on parallels between myths and the stories of the Bible.
Of course, this book is big enough as it is, and editing decisions needed to be made. While this book suffers from the flaw of incompleteness, it does not have flawed writing, which makes it a good book although (literally) not a light read.
Even though there is a lot of information presented in this book, it is set out in a way that makes it easy to find the information you are looking for. The chapters are set out in the following structure:
1. Meaning of Myth
2. Cradles of Civilisation
Egypt's Divine Kingship
The Glories of Greece and Rome
3. The Celtic, Viking and Germanic Worlds
Celtic Deities and Heroes
Sagas of the Norsemen
4. The Eastern World
India's Eternal Cycle
China's Heavenly Mandate
Japan's Realm of the Rising Sun
5. The New World
North America's Mother Earth, Father Sky
Mesoamerica's Gods of Sun and Sacrifice
South American Kingdoms of Gold
6. The Southern World
The Ancestral Voices of Africa
The Unseen Worlds of Australiasia
If you are not sure which section your myth belongs to you can always use the index, which is very well set out too.
I would recommend `Mythology' as a reference book for artists, writers, those of your involved in religious studies and/or readers who just have a curious mind!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Mythology" by Littleton is a rather large and picture-heavy tome of mythologies from all over the world. Read morePublished on August 30, 2012 by William G. Pratt
this anthology collects a broad overview of myths from around the world... it is great as a reference book, and for readers who want to familiarize themselves with the central... Read morePublished on August 1, 2007 by Michael Herman
This book is the best thing I have bought in a long time!! It gives great overviews of most of the non-christian religions and mythologies from all over the world. Read morePublished on January 3, 2006 by Kyra Storm