In this thematic study of the Roman goddess Ceres, Barbette Spaeth explores the rich complexity of meanings and functions that grew up around the goddess from the prehistoric period to the Late Roman Empire. In particular, she examines two major concepts, fertility and liminality, and two social categories, the plebs and women, which were inextricably linked with Ceres in the Roman mind. Spaeth then analyzes an image of the goddess in a relief of the Ara Pacis, an important state monument of the Augustan period, showing how it incorporates all these varied roles and associations of Ceres. This interpretation represents a new contribution to art history.
With its use of literary, epigraphical, numismatic, artistic, and archaeological evidence, The Roman Goddess Ceres presents a more encompassing view of the goddess than was previously available. It will be important reading for all students of Classics, as well as for a general audience interested in New Age, feminist, or pagan spirituality.
Barbette Stanley Spaeth is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Green looks at both specific problems in classical mythology and larger theoretical issues. His explorations underscore how mythic expression opens a door into non-rational and quasi-rational modes of thought in which it becomes possible to rewrite painful truths and unacceptable history—which is, Green argues, a dangerous enterprise. His study of the intersections between classical mythology and Greek history ultimately drives home a larger point, "the degree of mythification and deception (of oneself no less than of others) of which the human mind is capable."
The Midas Touch includes a stunning array of fascinating tales and gets to grips with the ancient stories of Aboriginal, Sumerian, Egyptian, Mesoamerican, Maori, Greek, Roman, Indian, Norse and Japanese cultures, encompassing legends from the most diverse societies and the most ancient cultures from across the globe.
In a concise yet comprehensive format, The Midas Touch is a wonderful evocation of the hugely entertaining stories and characters of mythology.