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Mythology For Dummies

ISBN: 978-0-7645-5432-2
384 pages
June 2002
Mythology For Dummies (0764554328) cover image


Every culture and time has its myths. You might say that myths help us to understand people, since just like people they can be inspirational and beautiful, as well as cruel and violent. The main players in mythology are the original drama kings and queens — they hang themselves in shame, poke out their own eyes, rule cities, and marry their relatives — and the fun doesn’t stop there! If you want all the scoop on gods and goddesses, fates and furies, monsters and heroes from around the world, Mythology for Dummies is the Who’s Who of mythological figures that you can’t do without.

It’s no secret that mythology can be confusing for anyone. From cultural hero Johnny Appleseed, to manly Odysseus, to femme fatale Aphrodite, and those pesky Cyclops running amuck on that faraway island, Mythology for Dummies covers all the bases, including information on:

  • Greek mythology
  • Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey
  • Roman mythology
  • Virgil’s Aeneid
  • Beowulf
  • Non-European mythology

Also, this book will get you up to speed on the heavy stuff—like how mythology intersects with our lives, and explores the meaning of existence. Organized into chapters on specific topics, it breaks down the common types of myths and mythological figures, and offers plain-English explanations of how myths have appeared in cultures throughout the ages. You’ll find what you need to know on these topics and many more:

  • What makes myths different from legends and fairy tales
  • Greek creation myths and those really ancient Greek Gods
  • The Olympian Gods (taller, younger, and better looking than you)
  • The Greek goddesses (the fairest and the meanest of them all)
  • Heroes — made, born, and re-born
  • Mythological places from Elysium Fields, to Atlantis, and Xanadu
  • Roman religion — how it was begged, borrowed, and stolen
You’ll also enjoy helpful features like charts comparing major figures, and a tear-out tip-sheet with a timeline of world civilizations. Whether you want to dabble in the wonders of mythology or get serious, Mythology for Dummies will demystify the subject, and show you how important myths can be to a culture. You’ll never say, “It’s only a myth” again!
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Table of Contents


Part I: Mythology and the Cradle of Civilization.

Chapter 1: The Truth About Myths.

Chapter 2: That's Our Story and We're Sticking to It: The Legacy.

Part II: It Started Here, Folks: Greek Mythology.

Chapter 3: Greek Creation Myths and Really Ancient Greek Gods.

Chapter 4: Taller, Younger, and Better Looking Than You: The Olympian Gods.

Chapter 5: The Fairest and Meanest of Them All: The Greek Goddesses.

Chapter 6: So Fine and Half Divine: Heroes.

Chapter 7: The Iliad, the End of the Trojan War, and the Odyssey

Chapter 8: Greek Tragedy: The Days of Their Lives.

Part III: The Cultural Spoils of an Empire: Roman Mythology.

Chapter 9: Will the Real Roman Mythology Please Stand Up?

Chapter 10: Begged, Borrowed, and Stolen: Roman Religion.

Chapter 11: Virgil's Aeneid and The Founding of Rome.

Chapter 12: Don't Go Changin': Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Part IV: One Big Family Feud: Northern European Mythology.

Chapter 13: Snow, Ice, and Not Very Nice: Norse Deities.

Chapter 14: Dragonslayers: The Big Northern European Sagas.

Chapter 15: A Seat at the Round Table: King Arthur and His Court.

Part V: Some Sunblock, a Sacrifice, a Monster, and Thou: Non-European Mythology.

Chapter 16: Floods, Mud, and Gods: Mesopotamian and Hebrew Mythology.

Chapter 17: Three Cheers for Egypt: Ra, Ra, Ra!

Chapter 18: Land of a Thousand Gods: India.

Chapter 19: China: Tao . . . Wow!

Chapter 20: Japan: Myths from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Chapter 21: Latin America: It'll Tear Your Heart Out.

Chapter 22: Coyotes, Thunderbirds, and Bears, Oh My: North American Indian Myths.

Part VI: The Part of Tens.

Chapter 23: Ten Mythological Monsters.

Chapter 24: Ten Mythological Places.

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Author Information

Dr. Christopher W. Blackwell is Assistant Professor of Greek, Department of Classics, Furman University. Amy Hackney Blackwell is a freelance author who has an MA in history.

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