Greek Myths was first published in hardback by Cassell in 1958. They have now issued a plain text of the mythoi embellished with illustrations of their choice. Even if one did not need to consult the critical apparatus and anthropological commentary of the original, it did at least break the corpus into bite-size pieces. Swallowed whole it proves indigestible – not 'endlessly fascinating' (as the publishers suggest) but sometimes rather dreary, if only because of the malignant proliferation of non-referring proper names. But who is familiar with it all? There are many of us (teachers of Classical Civilisation, for example) who will often need to glance at a book like this before committing themselves to an interpretation.
Some of the illustrations are apt and unfamiliar (although an index of source, would have been useful), but they are too heterogeneous. Vase-paintings of all periods are jumbled together with statues, whole and fragmentary, Greek and Roman, and other artifacts (it would have made a pleasant change not to have found the 'Mask of Agamemnon' here). The reproductions are not all of good quality, and some are too small to be of much use or interest. Some of the works of art reproduced are simply unsuccessful, awkward and ugly. One cannot help feeling that the publishers would have had plenty of material to choose from if they had confined themselves to black-figure and classical red-figure vase-painting, and would have achieved a more uniform and pleasing effect.
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