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From Olympus to Camelot: The World of European Mythology

From Olympus to Camelot: The World of European Mythology

Hardback

By (author) David Leeming

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 139mm x 221mm x 22mm | 413g
  • Publication date: 1 August 2003
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195143612
  • ISBN 13: 9780195143614
  • Illustrations note: 21 line illus.
  • Sales rank: 1,505,190

Product description

From the stories suggested by the great cave paintings of the Paleolithic period to the thought experiments of modern scientists, From Olympus to Camelot provides a sweeping history of the development of the rich and varied European mythological tradition. David Leeming, an authority on world mythology, begins with a general introduction to mythology and mythological terms, and then turns to the stories themselves. Discussing well-known figures such as Zeus, Aphrodite, Thor, and Cuchulainn, and less familiar ones such as Perun, Mari, and the Sorcerer of Lescaux, Leeming illustrates and analyzes the enduring human endeavor to make sense of existence through deities and heroes. Following an initial exploration of the Indo-European sources of European mythology and the connections between the myths of Europe and those of India and Iran, the book proceeds to survey the major beliefs of Greek, Roman, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, and Slavic cultures, as well as the mythologies of non-Indo-European cultures such as the Etruscans and the Finns. Among its contents are introductions to the pantheons of various mythologies, examinations of major mythological works, and retellings of the influential mythical stories. This work also examines European deities, creation myths, and heroes in the context of Christian belief, and considers the translation of traditional stories into the mythologies of modern European political, scientific, philosophical, and economic movements. European mythology is the core mythology of Western civilization. This wide-ranging volume offers a lively and informative survey, along with a provocative new way of understanding this fundamental aspect of European culture.

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Author information

David Leeming is Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. His books include The World of Myth, Dictionary of Asian Mythology, Myths, Legends, and Folktales, and Myth: A Biography of Belief. He lives in New York City.

Review quote

From Iceland to India, from prehistoric cave paintings and fertility figurines to such modern-day 'myths' as the invisible hand, the Oedipal conflict and Schrodinger's cat, Leeming's intriguing treatise on comparative mythology covers a lot of ground. Out of this enormous variety of information, Leeming, a professor of comparative literature and author of The World of Myth, discerns a coherent, distinctive European mythical tradition... His wide-ranging, well-written treatment contains a wealth of insights on the development of Western culture. PW Online David Leeming brings his encyclopedic knowledge of mythology to From Olympus to Camelot, one of the very few comparative studies of the myths of Europe. His approach provides the reader with both the timeless stories of multiple mythological traditions and enlightening connections between them. Joseph Nigg, author of The Book of Fabulous Beasts: A Treasury of Writings from Ancient Times to the Present Leeming effectively uses archeological evidence to demonstrate not only the sources of these myth traditions, but also how they interact with and influence one another. For a reader in search of a solid survey and foundations for further study, From Olympus to Camelot will provide an engaging and enlightening entry into the fascinating world of European mythology. Journal of American Folklore David Leeming's learning is vast, his ability to synthesize astonishing. Some scholars are 'conservative' in the best sense: they conserve human knowledge by analyzing it carefully before packaging it in useful compendia. Leeming has contributed yeoman service in a series of volumes that span huge areas of mythological and religious traditions. This volume will be especially helpful to readers who are interested in the broad range of European mythologies that stretch, thanks to Proto-Indo-European materials, into India and even northern Africa. The work adroitly summarizes what can be extremely complex and contradictory, namely the fragmentary archaeological hints of symbol, myth, and culture in Paleolithic and Neolithic periods. William G. Doty, author of Mythography: The Study of Myths and Rituals