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The Library of Greek Mythology [Paperback]

Apollodorus
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Book Description

July 12 2008 0199536325 978-0199536320
The only work of its kind to survive from classical antiquity, the Library of Apollodorus is a unique guide to Greek mythology, from the origins of the universe to the Trojan War.

Apollodorus' Library has been used as a source book by classicists from the time of its compilation in the 1st-2nd century BC to the present, influencing writers from antiquity to Robert Graves. It provides a complete history of Greek myth, telling the story of each of the great families of heroic mythology, and the various adventures associated with the main heroes and heroines, from Jason and Perseus to Heracles and Helen of Troy. As a primary source for Greek myth, as a reference work, and as an indication of how the Greeks themselves viewed their mythical traditions, the Library is indispensable to anyone who has an interest in classical mythology.

Robin Hard's accessible and fluent translation is supplemented by comprehensive notes, a map and full genealogical tables. The introduction gives a detailed account of the Library's sources and situates it within the fascinating narrative traditions of Greek mythology.

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Review

`the primary source book for all collections of Hellenic myths' Oxford Times

`it is an accessible and enjoyable trip through Greek mythology.' Herts Advertiser (St Albans edition), 10 July 1997

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line illustrations --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Compilation of Greek Myths & Legends Aug. 4 2001
Format:Paperback
Just like the playwrights, Ovid is great in his own sphere (get the Arthur Golding translation--"Shakespeare's Ovid"), but his Metamorphoses are an artistic presentation of a single poet, whereas Apollodorus (though he surely relies on the poets as well) gives the simplest and most demotic/standard versions of the stories. Ovid is Variations on a Theme, while Apollodorus is as close as we get to the theme itself.
Or rather, to the many themes, because his work covers so much more than is in any other work. Some of the more important parts included are: The Theogony (Creation of the Cosmos and Gods), "Rape" (=Abduction) of Persephone, War of Gods and Giants, Prometheus' Fire, the Calydonian Boar, Sisyphus, Jason and the Argonauts, Medea, Bellerophon, Perseus, Hercules (all the great stories) and his children, Europa, Minos, Cadmus, Oedipus and Aftermath, Atlanta and the Apples, Aesculapius and Chiron, Helen's Early Years, the Palladium, Peleus, the Kings of Athens, Theseus, Tantalus, Atreus/Thyestes and all that Mess, Helen and the Trojan War, Achilles and the Iliad, the Odyssey and the other Returns from Troy.
So it's well that this is called The Library, because Apollodorus compresses a huge amount of information into four short books. So rather than being some of the dullest of ancient writing, as one reviewer says, it both treats the greatest stories and does so with economy and swiftness. This is not only a valuable reference book (as is Robert Graves's Greek Myths), but the work I often recommend as the best presentation for anyone who wants a no-nonsense overview of the whole of Greek mythology (and nice because it's one of the ancient Greeks themselves retelling the stories).
Now, if you want a cheap copy, just get the Oxford one.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Compilation of Greek Myths & Legends Aug. 4 2001
By Cinna the Poet - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Just like the playwrights, Ovid is great in his own sphere (get the Arthur Golding translation--"Shakespeare's Ovid"), but his Metamorphoses are an artistic presentation of a single poet, whereas Apollodorus (though he surely relies on the poets as well) gives the simplest and most demotic/standard versions of the stories. Ovid is Variations on a Theme, while Apollodorus is as close as we get to the theme itself.
Or rather, to the many themes, because his work covers so much more than is in any other work. Some of the more important parts included are: The Theogony (Creation of the Cosmos and Gods), "Rape" (=Abduction) of Persephone, War of Gods and Giants, Prometheus' Fire, the Calydonian Boar, Sisyphus, Jason and the Argonauts, Medea, Bellerophon, Perseus, Hercules (all the great stories) and his children, Europa, Minos, Cadmus, Oedipus and Aftermath, Atlanta and the Apples, Aesculapius and Chiron, Helen's Early Years, the Palladium, Peleus, the Kings of Athens, Theseus, Tantalus, Atreus/Thyestes and all that Mess, Helen and the Trojan War, Achilles and the Iliad, the Odyssey and the other Returns from Troy.
So it's well that this is called The Library, because Apollodorus compresses a huge amount of information into four short books. So rather than being some of the dullest of ancient writing, as one reviewer says, it both treats the greatest stories and does so with economy and swiftness. This is not only a valuable reference book (as is Robert Graves's Greek Myths), but the work I often recommend as the best presentation for anyone who wants a no-nonsense overview of the whole of Greek mythology (and nice because it's one of the ancient Greeks themselves retelling the stories).
Now, if you want a cheap copy, just get the Oxford one. But if you want really excellent notes, get the Loeb edition annotated by Sir James Frazer (author of The Golden Bough), which also has some excellent short essays by him on themes in the stories.
And if you've been studying Greek, get the Loeb one too, which is literal enough to work as a good "pony", though the Greek is quite easy Alexandrian and you won't have any problems with it: My own Greek is not nearly as good as I'd like it to be, but I could read the whole thing in a few days no problem. The only thing I couldn't do is put it down!
65 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for a reference Aug. 23 1998
By Claude Avary - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The World's Classics sereies has presented a fine new translation of the Mythology Library of "Apollodorus" (a name of convenience for an author we know nothing about). Translator and editor Hard cleanly presents the writer's exhaustive compilation of Greek mythology, and through careful division and labelling of the sections, reveals some of the author's meticulous categorization. For hard-core mythology nuts, this is an indispensible reference: the Greek myths straight from a collector of antiquity, and our only glimpse at some important lost works. But a word of warning to the layman: Apollodorus is possible the most dull writer of the ancient world, and he make no attempts to create an entertaining or even readable work. It's all dry and dense -- nothing a translator can really do about that! If you're looking for a more entertaining ancient compliation of mythology, try Ovid's delightful METAMORPHOSES.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Myles Slater on: A Library of Gods and Mortals Aug. 31 2012
By Ian M. Slater - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Robin Hard's version of "The Library of Greek Mythology" is one of several modern English translations of an ancient (date disputed) compilation (*bibliotheke* - hence "library) of summaries of stories of the gods and heroes of Greece (but not Rome). It seems to be based, wherever it can be checked, on excellent sources; or, possibly, on earlier compilations which had excellent sources. It was not intended for pleasure reading, but for use as a reference manual, although we have evidence that in Byzantine times some readers used it as a short "history" of mythological times.

If the name of the author is correct, he cannot be the "Apollodorus the Grammarian" to whom the work used to be attributed. Unfortunately, this is the only name we have for it. Given the lack of internal fraudulent claims, however the bare name seems to me better than "Pseudo-Apollodorus," as it is sometimes given, since "pseudo-" is likely to be taken as a reflection on the author, instead of early scholars.

Considering the huge amount of ancient Greek literature that has been lost, and the primary sources to which this compiler (whoever and whenever he was), seems to have had access it is even more regrettable that a portion of "The Library" survives only in an abridged form. (Fortunately, part of the re-summarized material is Homeric; unfortunately, some of it is not.)

Hard's translation is a clear presentation of the material, with an excellent introduction and helpful notes, as one would expect from the Oxford World's Classics series in recent years. It can be read alone, consulted, or, I think, used as a class text (not in my personal experience, however.) It is not the only translation available.

The "classic" translation (which stood alone for half a century) is that by Sir James Frazer (of "The Golden Bough") in 1921, in two volumes of the Loeb Classical Library (and so facing a Greek text). His commentary to "The Library" is, as one might expect, packed with information from other ancient sources and later parallels. Unfortunately, Frazer's commentary is not very well organized. His translation - to my taste - adds a certain Victorian ponderousness to the spare, and sometimes awkward original. (The use of Latin names for the deities and heroes may puzzle the novice, and annoy those of us who grew up on Greek names for Greeks.) This version is still in print, and is available online at the Perseus site (for classical literature, etc.), and PDFs of the two volumes can be found at the Library of Congress site (archive.org).

1975 and 1976 saw the appearance of two new translations, by Keith Aldrich and Michael Simpson, respectively. The Aldrich translation, as "The Library of Greek Mythology," is out of print; Amazon seems to offer current printings, but these turn out on inspection to be the later translation by Robin Hard.

Simpson's "Gods and Heroes of the Greeks: The Library of Apollodorus," is still in print. It is a richly annotated on ancient and modern literary versions of the story. Simpson has been criticized for unspecified inaccuracies in his treatment of the Greek. The most recent translaters, Smith and Trzaskoma (see below) prefer Hard's translation. However, Simpson's translation is clear, and his annotations, on the whole, well organized, if sometimes losing track of Apollodorus' text. Some readers seem to have found the language too American for their taste. It should be remembered that the author, whoever he was, used a kind of "international literary Greek," which probably seemed fairly up-to-date (if not very elegant) to his well-educated readers. Whether academic American English is a good substitute is certainly arguable.

Simpson's commentary appears as end-notes to sections of the main text, which makes for frequent interruptions, and the index is a bit sketchy, although usually helpful. I have used this edition for a quarter century with considerable enjoyment, and frequent enlightenment about other ancient works, and modern ones.

Aldrich's translation does not discuss other ancient versions in any detail, or refer to modern literary versions. I found it quite readable, but as of a decade ago I much preferred Simpson's version -- possibly a consequence of owning a paperback copy, instead of consulting it in a library. (Both Aldrich's and Simpson's versions are also illustrated.)

The more recent (1997) translation by Robin Hard, in the Oxford World's Classics series, as "The Library of Greek Mythology," has textual notes and critical apparatus, aimed at fellow classicists, but comforting to some of the rest of us. Hard's introduction and commentary offer clearer exposition of the structure of the "The Library" (stories arranged regionally, and genealogically in each section -- the latter device going back to the Hesiodic "Catalogue" poems, centuries earlier). It also has a superb index (several, in fact), and is fairly good on ancient variants, but avoids treatment of modern versions of the old stories, which is Simpson's strength. (Hard is one who does not approve of Simpson's translation.)

This translation is, like Simpson's, in print, and it also is now available in Kindle. I found the digital edition to be well-designed and well-executed, when I read it this spring on a smartphone screen, which I consider the ultimate test. (Toggling back and forth between text and notes took some time to get used to, but that was my problem!)

A more recent translation, aimed largely at students, is "Apollodorus' 'Library' and Hyginus' 'Fabulae'" translated, with Introductions, by R. Scott Smith and Stephen M. Trzaskoma (Hackett 2007), also available in both paperback and Kindle formats. It contains complete, and substantially revised, versions of material which had appeared in excerpts in the same publisher's 2004 "Anthology of Classical Myth."
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classical Study. April 5 2010
By Jan Dierckx - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The main literary source for students of Greek mythology is the so-called 'Apollodori Bibliotheca' (Library of Apollodorus).
It was compiled in the first century AD and was the first attempt to unify Greek mythology. It's the only work of his kind to survive from classical Antiquity. The Library of Apollodorus is a unique guide to Greek mythology, from the origin of the Universe to the Trojan war.

It's a pity though that a lot of the myths in this work are a summary of the original story. Nonetheless it's the most important source of Greek mythology and the main source of "The Greek Myths" by Robert Graves.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work June 28 2014
By alaskafan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The stories translated here from the ancients are clearer, more descriptive, and more enjoyable than any other translations I have come across, Oxford continues to offer the very best to anyone embarking on serious study of classic mythology without diminishing the enjoyment that study should offer.
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