Philip Matyszak has a doctorate in Roman history from St. John’s College, Oxford, and is the author of numerous books, including the bestselling The Greek and Roman Myths: A Guide to the Classical Stories, as well as Legionary: The Roman Soldier’s (Unofficial) Manual and Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day.
The myths told by the Greeks and Romans are as important as their history for our understanding of what they believed, thought and felt, and of what they expressed in writing and visual art. Mythology was inextricably interwoven with the entire fabric of their public and private lives.
This book discusses not only the purely fictional myths, fairy-tales and folk-tales but the sagas and legends which have some historical grounding. This is not a dictionary of stories, rather a personal selection of the most important and memorable. Michael Grant re-tells these marvellous tales, and then explores the different ways in which they have appeared throughout literature.
It is an inspiring study, filled with quotations from literary sources, which gives the reader a fascinating exposition of ancient culture as well as an understanding of how vital the classical world has been in shaping the western culture of today.
Through an examination of literary and archeological evidence, the book summarizes the fundamental religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Near Eastern world, including the religious traditions of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Israel. Turning westward, the fascinating world of ancient Greek and Roman religion is considered next. The discussion begins with a description of Minoan-Mycenaean religion, followed by a consideration of classical Roman and Greek religion. Next, the numerous religious movements that blossomed during Hellenistic-Roman times are discussed. In addition, the fundamental theological contributions of various Greco-Roman philosophical schools of thought, including Orphism, Stoicism, Pythagoreanism, Platonism and Neo-Platonism, are described. Greco-Roman philosophy functioned as a quasi-religious outlook for many, and played a decisive role in the evolution of religion in the classical and Hellenistic period. The theological speculations of the philosophers regarding the nature of God and the soul made a huge impact in religious circles during the classical and Hellenistic era.
Moving forward in history from archaic and classical times to the later Hellenistic-Roman period, the old religious order of the past falls by the wayside and a new updated religious paradigm begins to develop throughout the Mediterranean world, with a greater emphasis being placed upon the religious individual and the expression of personal religious feelings. There are several important social and historical reasons for this shift in perspective and these factors are explained in the chapter focusing upon personal religion in Hellenistic times. Since the entire religious topography of the ancient Mediterranean world is rarely outlined in a single volume, this book will be a welcome addition to anyone’s library.
Through his engaging narrative, Garry Shaw guides us through the mythic adventures of such famous deities as Osiris, the god murdered by his jealous brother Seth; the magical and sometimes devious Isis, who plotted to gain the power of the sun god Re; and Horus, who defeated his uncle Seth to become king of Egypt. He also introduces us to lesser known myths, such as the rebellions against Re; Geb’s quest for Re’s magical wig; and the flaying of the unfortunate god Nemty. From stars and heavenly bodies sailing on boats, to the wind as manifestation of the god Shu, to gods, goddesses, ghosts, and demons—beings that could be aggressive, helpful, wise, or dangerous—Shaw goes on to explain how the Egyptians encountered the mythological in their everyday lives.