rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 2: p. 167
Sources: Gods and Goddesses of Greece and Rome
Dona J. Helmer

Librarian, Anchorage School District, Anchorage, Alaska

Popular YA authors like Rick Riordan have created a new interest in mythology. The study of classic myths was always a part of high school curriculum but now has reached a zenith with students who are discovering ancient gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines.

And just in time there have been some useful reference books on the topic. These books are not a retelling of the tales. Instead these two works contain scholarly signed articles ranging in length from one to eight pages. The first paragraph of each entry contains a short “ready reference” introduction to the subject and simply tells the main claim to fame, parentage, and importance. The bulk of the entry provides details about the stories, scholarly comparison of figures in other cultures, and speculates on the importance of the figure. Each volume is lushly illustrated with 270 color photographs of classic statues and paintings from the Renaissance through modern times. Since the topics of the entries are so unique, the entries do not have a standard format and the user will have to hunt to find specific information on topics such as the literary importance of the god or variant accounts but the hunt is worth it and they will be rewarded with enough background information to begin a term paper. Each article ends with a short 2–3 item bibliography of recent books as well as cross-references to other articles in the volume. Some entries also have color information boxes and although this helps break up the text there does not seem to be any consistent reason why some information is highlighted. Each volume has a pronunciation guide. Finally each volume also has an unannotated bibliography of books for additional reading as well as an annotated list of Internet resources.

There are other reference works for this age group on mythology. Gall’s The Lincoln Library of Greek and Roman Mythology (Lincoln Library Press, 2006) is a multi-volume set that contains 500 entries on the gods, goddesses, heroes, places, and other important aspects Greek and Roman mythology. U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology (Gale, 2009), a 5 volume set, is much broader in scope and contains 300 entries on the major characters, themes, myths, and stories of over 40 world cultures.

These two works have information on the major Greek and Roman heroes, heroines, gods, and goddesses. Librarians can choose one or both volumes depending on their needs and budget. The articles are accurate, lengthy, and thought provoking, and the volumes are designed to look and feel like an encyclopedia. High school, community college, and public libraries will find these useful and popular additions to their collections. I recommend these as a good value.

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