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The Garden of the Hesperides, by Lord Frederick Leighton [1892] (Public Domain Image)

Myths of Greece and Rome

by Jane Harrison


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This short review of the Greek pantheon (alas, there is little about Rome), is part of a series of inexpensive adult education books published during the 1920s. The author, Jane Harrison, was one of the most prominent classicists of the era; so this is a bit like hiring a French chef to cook up a big mess of pommes frites. Besides being a respected academic, Harrison influenced many of the 20th century neo-Pagans and Goddess theorists.

Harrison is making a point here: Greek mythology was not the static pageant that we learned in school, or read in Bulfinch. It did not spring forth fully formed, but evolved out of a set of ancient local deities. She proposes that the Greek goddesses emerged from native Pelasgian tutelary spirits, and much of the male pantheon was imposed by Indo-Europeans. Her analysis of the evolution of the attributes of the god Poseidon as originating from a Minoan bull god is speculative but intriguing. Whether Harrison was correct or not, her reexamination of this subject which has been covered so many times is refreshing.

Title Page
The Gods of Homer's Olympus
Zeus (Jove, Jupiter)
Athena (Minerva)
Aphrodite (Venus)
Artemis (Diana)
Apollo (Phœbus)
Ares (Mars)
Hermes (Mercury)
Poseidon (Neptune)
The Mother of the Gods
Demeter and Persephone (Ceres and Proserpine)