Early Greek Mythology Part II

People involved in this project

Principal investigator:

School Humanities
Department Classics and Ancient History
Dates 2010-2011
Funder British Academy: BA/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship
Contact person Robert.Fowler@bristol.ac.uk

More about this project

The project is to complete the commentary on the texts published in Early Greek Mythography I (Oxford 2000). EGM I is a critical edition of the fragmentary quotations of 29 prose authors from the late sixth to the early fourth centuries BC collectively known as the early mythographers, though in this period the distinction between myth and history was not yet clearly drawn. The first comprehensive commentary on this important corpus in nearly a century, this work will be a standard reference, shedding light on many aspects of Greek mythology, religion, historiography, and intellectual history.

The commentary must first perform the basic task of working out, from the fragmentary record, who said what about each myth, and why. On a higher level, it considers the literary, religious, and cultural contexts in which the myths had their living.  It also confronts questions about what is meant by ‘history’. As Greek research into their past continued, it became clear that there was a qualitative difference between the iconic stories of the gods and heroes and accounts of more recent events ('historie' and 'mythos' are of course their terms). This was the big bang of Western historiography, when history became self-conscious and defined itself in contradistinction with myth, and myth in contradistinction with reason. This dialectic, far from being superseded, is alive and well today; there are still plenty of myths embedded in our historiography.