Concise Dictionary of Greek, Roman, Norse, and Egyptian Mythology

Description

50 pages
$6.95
ISBN 0-919966-83-7
DDC 291.1'3'03

Publisher

Year

1991

Contributor

Reviewed by Alan D. Booth

Alan D. Booth is an associate professor of Classics at Brock University
in St. Catharines.

Review

To cover in a thorough way the principal gods, mortals, animals, plants,
and places that appear in the mentioned mythologies would require
several copious volumes. In addressing this awesome range of material in
some 50 pages, Elkhadem’s little dictionary does not then belie the
qualification “concise.” One would expect to see evidence of a
rigorous process of selection and compression, but this anticipation is
not quite fulfilled, for the author includes such minor figures as the
beggar Irus, the dog Maera, the wrestler Milo (incidentally, the latter,
and the runner Phidippides, would not normally rank as figures of Greek
mythology). Again, the Romans readily deified abstract qualities, but
these deities accumulated little mythology; it is difficult to divine
why Elkhadem, who ignores most of them, has chosen to accord entries to
such of their number as Necessitas, Veritas, and Voluptas (Necessity,
Truth, and Pleasure). Finally, if Mount Helicon and Olympus deserve
separate mention for their prominence in mythology, the same cannot be
said of all the places listed; it would surely have been sufficient to
describe Akragas, Boeotia, Clusium, Memphis, Nemea, Samos, and many
other cities, regions, and islands as their mention arises in the
various myths recounted. The entries themselves are of necessity
succinct, but certain details ought not to be omitted—for example, it
should be added that the foam which bore Aphrodite, the goddess of love,
was stirred by the severed genitals of Uranus; that Athena, the goddess
of invention, was born from the head of Zeus; that Arachne means
“spider” and Hebe “youth.” These criticisms, however, cannot
detract from Elkhadem’s achievement; he has provided a light and
friendly guide to help us thread our way through an overwhelming
labyrinth of mythology.

Citation

Elkhadem, Saad, “Concise Dictionary of Greek, Roman, Norse, and Egyptian Mythology,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/11803.