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Fri, Jan. 29th, 2010, 12:38 am
I'm sure you're all positively rivetted to your seats with excitement.

I'm reading this great book on Hawaiian mythology. It was written for academic reasons, but is plenty accessible for the layperson, because if you don't think that a book like that won't have some general appeal then you're maybe not cut out for a career in marketing. ;]

Seriously, though, it's rather engrossing stuff. None of it is grand epics, although some of the sources sound like they're long enough to be such, but instead it all intertwines with the culture and history of the region. That makes me wonder: maybe Greek mythology has been, how to but this, severed from it's ancient parent culture by it's constant study and re-packaging for the consumption of foreign audiences. Maybe in it's natural habitat, it was a lot like the rougher-edged Hawaiian mythology that I'm reading about now. Perhaps an untestable hypothesis on the face: unless I have a time machine, I won't be able to get the kind of secondary sources on Hellenistic mythos that I'm looking for to find out, exactly because of so many scholars through history clumsily trying to do just that.

Sun, Jan. 31st, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)

You're correct. Ancient Greek religious/spiritual beliefs (which we call "mythology") is rather scrambled with other stuff.

Most of what we've been told is Greek mythology is actually Greco-Roman mythology. That's scrambling #1. The next mixin came during the Renaissance & Shakespeare time. Europeans had begun rediscovering information about the Roman Republic & Empire, and they went crazy for it. The old Greco-Roman mythology became All The Rage.

Then, you have the modern era's hamfisted retellings. Enough said.

For original, purely Greek source material, there are 2 sources. The first is, actually, Homer's Illiad and Odyssey. You may want to look for a text about ancient Greek mythology/gods based on what appears in Homer's works. The second source is called "Works and Days", by Hesiod. You can find this just about anyplace. It's the oldest complete work describing the various gods & goddesses, with lineages, followed by a description of proper morals (for ancient Greeks, that is).

That should give you enough to start with.

Sun, Jan. 31st, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)

True, but between the few whole and mostly complete works that happened through, you still end up with a bit of a distorted image. Basically, survival of the luckiest for the sources.

Mon, Feb. 1st, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)

Well, Hesiod's "Works and Days" is a surviving Ancient Greek text. Pick up a copy.

There are likely others. It may take you a bit to find them but they'll be worth the hunt.