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Main page » Dictionaries and Encyclopedias » Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology

Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology


In more than 1400 entries, this guide covers the major gods and heroes, many minor figures, and even some historical figures and places. Unfortunately, the text is sometimes confusing, marred by syntactic tangles and clumsy wording. Some content errors exist (e.g., Hellenic for Hellenistic, Phintias for Phidias), together with inadequate cross-referencing (e.g., between "Trojan Horse" and "Wooden Horse," neither referencing the other). There is no way to tell which names in a given entry have their own individual entries. The preface asserts that "...practice and common sense will lead to the correct pronunciation" of Greek names, end of subject. The orientation is not literary: there is no distinction between the Iliadic and Odyssean portrayal of Odysseus, between the Underworld of the Odyssey and that of the Aeneid, no mention of scholarly debate over Virgil's Augustan agenda, and not enough detail in the description of Odysseus's or Aeneas's narratives. Such weaknesses reduce the value of what is a most thorough and helpful guide. There is an extensive bibliography (missing Piero Boitani, Roberto Calasso, Brooks Otis), and the appendixes give chronologies of ancient Greece, Rome, and Roman emperors.


These two volumes of Greek and Roman mythology cover essentially the same material, though each contains some information the other does not. Dixon-Kennedy's 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.

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