Cover image for Cassell dictionary of classical mythology
Cassell dictionary of classical mythology
March, Jennifer R.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Cassell, 1998.
Physical Description:
416 pages : illustrations, maps ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL715 .M37 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL715 .M37 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL715 .M37 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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This is an A-Z guide to the mythology of the classical world, covering all the principal myths, gods and goddesses, together with the personalities, places, animals, monsters, heavenly bodies and events of classical mythology. Background historical and archaeological information is provided. The outline accounts are supplemented by extensive quotations from the original sources, to help bring the narrative to life and show how literary traditions shaped the development of classical mythology.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

When the keywords classical and mythology bring up more than 500 citations in Books in Print Plus, do we need another dictionary of Greek and Roman mythology? With Hercules popular as both a live-action TV show and a Disney animated film, and teachers still giving out Greek and Roman mythology assignments, the answer is yes. This new one should be very helpful to both students and librarians. The author is a distinguished classicist at Oxford University, but her writing is accessible to general readers. The style is more modern than most mythology books, which enhances accessibility. Anglicisms do not interfere with an American's use of the book. The book is in dictionary format with extensive cross-references. Roman names of gods refer the reader to the longer articles on the Greek gods. Where a Roman god was conflated with a Greek (e.g., Jupiter with Zeus or Juno with Hera), his or her distinctly Roman characteristics are described. Entries range from a couple of lines to several two-columned pages. Many of the entries have citations to Greek and Roman literary works, a number of which, such as Iliad and Odyssey, are easy to find in translation in inexpensive paperback editions. March also includes excerpts from the literature in her own translation. Her quotations from Iliad about the fate of Astyanax, Hector's little son, are surprisingly moving. All of classical mythology's "usual suspects" (e.g., Apollo, Hercules, Trojan War) are included, with good, clear discussions. More obscure characters are also included, such as the men Cadmus created by sowing dragon's teeth. They are the Spartoi or Sown Men, and March has separate entries for each of them. Cross-referencing seems inconsistent. There is nothing in Sown Men to lead the reader to Cadmus, although there are links to Pentheus, Teresias, and several other entries. At the end of the volume, March includes several appendixes: maps of the classical word, genealogies of gods and mythological families, thumbnail sketches of major classical authors, and a brief bibliography. The genealogies will be useful to students of Greek drama as well as students of mythology. The book is suitable for large public libraries and their larger branches, academic libraries, and high-school libraries, especially those serving honors literature classes.

Library Journal Review

These two volumes of Greek and Roman mythology cover essentially the same material, though each contains some information the other does not. Dixon-Kennedys Encyclopedia is relatively easy to read. Entries, in ready-reference format, are short and to the point. Cross references are given, though they are not extensive. Readers will use this as a quick reference source only, leading them to more in-depth searching as their interest dictates. Dixon-Kennedy (European Myth & Legend, Blandford, 1997) does not offer citations for each entry because he has restricted his research citations to four volumes: Robert Gravess two-volume The Greek Myths, Homers Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgils Aeneid. All other information, he states in his preface, comes from original personal research. Nonetheless, he includes an extensive bibliography of works that contain essential information to some degree or another. The Cassell Dictionary generally has more extensive entries. Citations are given with each entry, and cross references are included within the text in small capital letters. More resources have been cited in the text, but the bibliography is not quite as extensive as that in the Encyclopedia. This volume includes pictures and photographs, which the other does not, as well as references within entries to the mythological influence on art, literature, and culture. British scholar March also quotes often from classical poets and playwrights where appropriate. In general, the Cassell Dictionary is more scholarly in both content and appearance, while the Encyclopedia is more accessible to younger students. Either is an acceptable addition, depending on the needs of the collection.Katherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.