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The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology: An A-Z Guide to the Myths and Legends of the Ancient World

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The myths and legends of the ancient worlds, from Greece, Rome and Egypt to the Norse and Celtic lands, through Persia and India to China and the Far East, the Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology is a comprehensive A to Z of the classic stories of gods and goddesses, heroes and mythical beasts, wizards and warriors.


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The myths and legends of the ancient worlds, from Greece, Rome and Egypt to the Norse and Celtic lands, through Persia and India to China and the Far East, the Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology is a comprehensive A to Z of the classic stories of gods and goddesses, heroes and mythical beasts, wizards and warriors.

30 review for The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology: An A-Z Guide to the Myths and Legends of the Ancient World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    My most treasured book (^___^)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    The book is oversize and has over 1,000 entries over hundreds of pages. It's bulky, but it's lavishly illustrated which makes the full size worthwhile, if you're into those kinds of things. I think the Goodreads summary can give as good a feel as anything for this book: "An authoritative A to Z of the mythical figures of two great continents, with copious cross-references." Yeah, those "two great continents" are, you guessed it, Europe and Asia. I have to downrate this book for calling itself th The book is oversize and has over 1,000 entries over hundreds of pages. It's bulky, but it's lavishly illustrated which makes the full size worthwhile, if you're into those kinds of things. I think the Goodreads summary can give as good a feel as anything for this book: "An authoritative A to Z of the mythical figures of two great continents, with copious cross-references." Yeah, those "two great continents" are, you guessed it, Europe and Asia. I have to downrate this book for calling itself the Ultimate when it's so consciously narrow in scope. For a broader text, try The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols; for a deeper text of Greek myths, try Hamilton's Mythology; for a scholarly review of myths, try Joseph Campbell, such as Hero with a Thousand Faces. That being said, the book isn't so bad and I do like it. The entries are for the general public, telling myths you may already know but with different detail or perspective. The cross referencing is useful. Also, I really like how they do give a good balance to myths throughout Eurasia, covering Celtic, Norse, Roman, Greek, Islamic, West Asian, Indian, Chinese and Japanese myths without preferential treatment. No, it's not exhaustive even for those continents, and it would take several volumes to even make a decent attempt to do that. This is for casual interest reading, to put on the coffee table or to take off the wall on slow, rainy days, or to follow up for more info after watching a cool TV show or movie. The thing about these more or less generic, easy reading reference books is that Wikipedia is quickly approaching them on every topic if it hasn't outdone them already. They don't have the rigor, depth, or thoroughness to appeal to a specialist, and there's not much more to hold on to, unless you want to kill some time and check out the cool pictures.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Travelin

    This is one of a number of similar reference works -- highly visual, pointlessly list-oriented and presented without much context -- which I bought in chains of busy remainder stores, downtown Bucharest. This book in particular has really astonishing, but oddly garish illustrations of every imagineable mythology and sort, but all a similar shade of orange red, which blurred detail as it was printed at some bargain in China. It's hard to know where to begin with alphabetical listings of every majo This is one of a number of similar reference works -- highly visual, pointlessly list-oriented and presented without much context -- which I bought in chains of busy remainder stores, downtown Bucharest. This book in particular has really astonishing, but oddly garish illustrations of every imagineable mythology and sort, but all a similar shade of orange red, which blurred detail as it was printed at some bargain in China. It's hard to know where to begin with alphabetical listings of every major mythology on earth. I spent a Bucharest winter just reading the two page introductions to regional mythologies, continent by continent, along with gentle skimming of some of the entries. I can remember being astonished by the Nordic and Celtic introductions, the differences between selfless sacrifice for a final doomed battle in Nordic mythology, vs. the individualist on the quest in Celtic. The Indian myths struck me strongly, although the only one I can remember now is the churning of the milk, using a serpent wrapped about a mountain. I must have seen this at Angkor Watt, but should have read the myths before going. Three possibly controversial points I remember are: -- Asian myths put the sun at the center of orbitting planets, far before Galileo or Copernicus. -- The book claims that Buddhism has been effectively reabsorbed back into Hinduism -- The mythology gets more shamanistic as one heads north from India, into, say, Nepal, where the multiarmed, multifaced figures, with the heads of their enemies worn like crowns seem to increase steadily. I'd have an airline ticket to Nepal just about now, if I'd thought I had the budget, but I'd have arrived to terrible desolation, not ancient enlightenment right now. In keeping with the fact that the flood myths repeat themselves from flood-prone Egypt, that the Romans stole Gods and everything else from the Greeks, and that it seems clear Tolkien borrowed a lot from his studies of Nordic myths (ask if you want the litany), it would have been more interesting and easier to remember if the thousands of entries had somehow been on a timeline showing similar myths. Reading a disconnected myth told as an encyclopedia entry was seldom pleasant either. The infintessimal text in the invaluable introductions was unneccessary and unreadable, especially at night, even if my glasses were bad. A reference work quite nice and well researched to have, but not one to carry across eastern Europe or remember for its storytelling pleasure.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Another one of those Gold colored books you see in the discount bin at Barnes and Nobel or Borders, this book is an attempt to organize mythological/religious characters from all around the world. What's mythology to one person is religion to the next, and this book does a fine job of demonstrating key points in each character's history. Finding this book now may be a trial, especially under the current ISBN, however, a search of the authors Arthur Cotterell & Rachel Storm return a new book entitl Another one of those Gold colored books you see in the discount bin at Barnes and Nobel or Borders, this book is an attempt to organize mythological/religious characters from all around the world. What's mythology to one person is religion to the next, and this book does a fine job of demonstrating key points in each character's history. Finding this book now may be a trial, especially under the current ISBN, however, a search of the authors Arthur Cotterell & Rachel Storm return a new book entitled: Encyclopedia of World Mythology (ISBN: 0754814882). This new title may be more appropriate for their 2005 publication as the Ultimate Encyclopedia is missing some key mythological figures of various beliefs. Considering the cost of the book at purchase, I was happy enough with the 500 or more oversized pages. These oversized books produced by Hermes House with Arthur and Rachel are definitely worth their value, and far superior to any one of a hundred so called "mythological encyclopedias" I've seen on the market. Though I have yet to read the new publication entitled "Encyclopedia of World Mythology", from my experience with this book alone I suggest purchasing that one should you find it as I do believe it is meant to replace this older edition.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    As with most encyclopedias, this is not the sort of book which one reads from cover to cover. AS with a dictionary one either goes straight to the topic needed or one browses and cross references....and Time flies. I have been doing BOTH since late March when I began a Ten Week series of lectures "LIVING MYTHS" at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) scattered through March, April, May and June 2012. Alas,only two lectures remain. Lecture notes, an intermission of chat with tea/coffee and supe As with most encyclopedias, this is not the sort of book which one reads from cover to cover. AS with a dictionary one either goes straight to the topic needed or one browses and cross references....and Time flies. I have been doing BOTH since late March when I began a Ten Week series of lectures "LIVING MYTHS" at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) scattered through March, April, May and June 2012. Alas,only two lectures remain. Lecture notes, an intermission of chat with tea/coffee and superior biscuits and wine and guava juice at lecture's end...all help to digest the Mythical World which resounds in our own. For more information on the substance of each lecture visit: www.artgallery.nsw.gov,au/members/events and look for: For God's Sake II: Living Myths

  6. 5 out of 5

    Zezee

    This is a great reference book. It contains a lot of mythological characters and is detailed (although sometimes I wish it contained a bit more). I recommend this to all myth lovers. Myths covered: Greek/Roman, Celtic, Nordic, South and Central Asia, Egypt and West Asia, East Asia.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    This collection may have missed some legends, but overall a great book. Some of the myths and legends are known, but many I never heard before. I enjoyed doing more research into some of the myths and legends. It is a great reference book, and one every lover of mythology should include in their library. The illustrations, photographs of actual art works, and more are beautiful and add to the wonder of this large book. I actual read this book from cover to cover, which I did over a few weeks. I wil This collection may have missed some legends, but overall a great book. Some of the myths and legends are known, but many I never heard before. I enjoyed doing more research into some of the myths and legends. It is a great reference book, and one every lover of mythology should include in their library. The illustrations, photographs of actual art works, and more are beautiful and add to the wonder of this large book. I actual read this book from cover to cover, which I did over a few weeks. I will go back to this book over and over again.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Miess

    The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology is an excellent resource for those who are interested in the subject of mythology. I write fantasy fiction, so this book has provided a resource to either help create mythologies for other worlds or draw various elements from various places. This book covers Classical, Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, Biblical, Middle Eastern and Islamic, South Asian and East Asian mythologies. This book, however, does not have any information on Polynesian mythology or that of the The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology is an excellent resource for those who are interested in the subject of mythology. I write fantasy fiction, so this book has provided a resource to either help create mythologies for other worlds or draw various elements from various places. This book covers Classical, Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, Biblical, Middle Eastern and Islamic, South Asian and East Asian mythologies. This book, however, does not have any information on Polynesian mythology or that of the Americas and this seemed to be a glaring error. I appreciate that the book contains photography of various pieces of art. This helps illustrate the various figures and see how each culture depicted them. I recommend that the reader use this book as a tool and go back to the original sources in order to get a fuller idea about the various figures and stories that are detailed in each article. If the reader is interested in writing a paper about the subject of mythology, there are other scholarly works that I recommend. With that said, it has its place and rather exhaustive.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Clifford

    I originally bought this book for a college class, but I enjoyed it so much that I kept it instead of selling it back. Details Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse, Egyptian/West Asian, South/Central Asian, and East Asian mythologies.

  10. 4 out of 5

    LGandT

    Got this on a whim on a half off table outside a long since gone bookstore. I love this little book. It might be a little difficult to get right to the info you want because of the way they have it set up, but aside from that, I love it

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

    Panoramic! Excellent! The artwork is a nice touch too!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Fer Prz

    A copy is always at my living room. Always sparks conversation.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Adams

    Amazingly comprehensive collection of myths from around the world. The best part of this collection is that it includes impressive artwork to represent almost every entry. Wonderful reference!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom Quinn

    I'm a sucker for these sort of coffee table books. Give me a great big bunch of trivia and slap a few pretty pictures in it, bind it all together and call it a bathroom reader and I'm captivated. This one I read ten or twelve pages at a time and it's a fine example of its kind--that is to say, the kind of book you leave lying out for people to flip through while waiting around for an appointment someplace. Of course we cover the Greek and Roman myths, but the authors also include the Norse myths I'm a sucker for these sort of coffee table books. Give me a great big bunch of trivia and slap a few pretty pictures in it, bind it all together and call it a bathroom reader and I'm captivated. This one I read ten or twelve pages at a time and it's a fine example of its kind--that is to say, the kind of book you leave lying out for people to flip through while waiting around for an appointment someplace. Of course we cover the Greek and Roman myths, but the authors also include the Norse myths, and the Celtic myths, plus Egyptian, Indian, and Japanese. So it was not just another retread of the more commonly known mythology; there was plenty of new content (well, new to me). It's laid out alphabetically in traditional encyclopedia style, and each culture gets around 80 pages devoted to it. Although each story gets only the briefest of summaries, in the chapter introductions and various inserts the authors are genuinely insightful about the typology of gods, goddesses, and other deities, as well as the structure of mythic storytelling and how it varies among different cultures. My only complaints? This book is just too darn big to take out of the house, and too darn heavy to read on the john! 3 stars out of 5.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie

    This book is a good source to start your research into not just Greek mythology but also other myths from around the world: Roman, Egyptian, Norse, Celtic, Persian, Indian and Far Eastern. For the Greek mythology section, it doesn't always provide a comprehensive entry for some entities (e.g. I couldn't find anything about the Chimera in here) but the more prominent figures are all in there so, again, if you need a starting point for your research, this book will provide it. Personally, I use it This book is a good source to start your research into not just Greek mythology but also other myths from around the world: Roman, Egyptian, Norse, Celtic, Persian, Indian and Far Eastern. For the Greek mythology section, it doesn't always provide a comprehensive entry for some entities (e.g. I couldn't find anything about the Chimera in here) but the more prominent figures are all in there so, again, if you need a starting point for your research, this book will provide it. Personally, I use it to initiate my research on the other myths that I don't know about (everything besides Greek and Roman) and I find it quite useful. The entries are more encyclopedic and not written as stories so it's probably a bit boring, but the images are quite beautiful so I personally find it fascinating instead. * This review is part of my blog entry on the myths in the film Wrath Of The Titans.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Evans-Jenkins

    A great book for the mythology expert or student. I mainly bought this for Greek and Roman mythology, but it also includes Celtic, Nordic, Egypt and West Asia, South and Central Asia, and East Asia's myths. The books are very organized with an easy to use index so you can find all of the gods and godesses you want. Each myth is completely told with descriptions. In grey and oranged outlined pages, a certain part of a culture's mythology is explained. An example of this is that under the Greek an A great book for the mythology expert or student. I mainly bought this for Greek and Roman mythology, but it also includes Celtic, Nordic, Egypt and West Asia, South and Central Asia, and East Asia's myths. The books are very organized with an easy to use index so you can find all of the gods and godesses you want. Each myth is completely told with descriptions. In grey and oranged outlined pages, a certain part of a culture's mythology is explained. An example of this is that under the Greek and Roman mythology there is a section specifically discussing the Heroes of the world. Here they talk about Hercukes (Heracles), Jason, and other heroes. Overall a very enjoyable learning experience. The book took me so long because I wanted to spread it out.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Harlan Martin

    The research that went into this is faulty and filled with misinformation. They based the majority of the writing on one source called the Prose Edda that was written by a gentleman named Snorri Sturlsun who was a classically educated scholar who lived 100 years after the conversion of Iceland. That once source is pretty much taken with a grain of salt as being a doctored version of the Eddas because of the influence christianity and the church had on his writings. Most of true Asatru scholars t The research that went into this is faulty and filled with misinformation. They based the majority of the writing on one source called the Prose Edda that was written by a gentleman named Snorri Sturlsun who was a classically educated scholar who lived 100 years after the conversion of Iceland. That once source is pretty much taken with a grain of salt as being a doctored version of the Eddas because of the influence christianity and the church had on his writings. Most of true Asatru scholars take anything that Snorri had to write about with a grain of salt if its not backed by any of the other histories, Eddas, or stories prior to his writings. Shame on the authors for not doing the research when writing about a living religion.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Logan

    I used this book to look up Greek mythology for the Percy Jackson series. It was a lot of help and fun to read. Reading it for Norse mythology now, focusing on Thor due to the new movie that is out. This is a big book and I hate to put "read" on here when it would probably take a person 2 years to read! I've read everything important to the Norse mythology I possibly could and it was 300 pages +. A lot to cover when it comes to mythology, but this is one of the better books on all the mythologies I used this book to look up Greek mythology for the Percy Jackson series. It was a lot of help and fun to read. Reading it for Norse mythology now, focusing on Thor due to the new movie that is out. This is a big book and I hate to put "read" on here when it would probably take a person 2 years to read! I've read everything important to the Norse mythology I possibly could and it was 300 pages +. A lot to cover when it comes to mythology, but this is one of the better books on all the mythologies of the world you can find!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Asia

    I picked this up at Borders for like... $19.99 instead of the original MSRP. It's a very nice and quite informative book, with lots of good photos and illustrations. The information is somewhat run-of-the-mill, at times, consisting of a lot of the same old regurgitated tidbits as so many other mythology books, but the fact it runs the gamut from Norse to Southeast Asian and everywhere in between kind of makes up for it. I picked this up at Borders for like... $19.99 instead of the original MSRP. It's a very nice and quite informative book, with lots of good photos and illustrations. The information is somewhat run-of-the-mill, at times, consisting of a lot of the same old regurgitated tidbits as so many other mythology books, but the fact it runs the gamut from Norse to Southeast Asian and everywhere in between kind of makes up for it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Danelle

    A fairly comprehensive book of mythology covering Europe & Asia. It begins with Greek & Roman mythology and then continues on with Celtic and Nordic. There are also sections on Africa and Asia. It's definitely not something you'd sit and read all the way through. It is nice for browsing, to keep on hand for reference, or to read bits on a rainy day. Though it's not as in-depth as it could be, it does cover quite a bit. The artwork throughout is an added bonus. A fairly comprehensive book of mythology covering Europe & Asia. It begins with Greek & Roman mythology and then continues on with Celtic and Nordic. There are also sections on Africa and Asia. It's definitely not something you'd sit and read all the way through. It is nice for browsing, to keep on hand for reference, or to read bits on a rainy day. Though it's not as in-depth as it could be, it does cover quite a bit. The artwork throughout is an added bonus.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Milo

    More like a textbook of all the worlds myths than anything else, this encyclopedia is interesting to peruse at your leisure. I loved it so much because it was able to point me in the direction of some of the most epic yarns ever woven from the beginning of recorded time to recent history. I still to this day look fondly through it from time to time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura Galarza

    One of my all time favorite books, which is of course part of my collection. This book has an immense amount of information from Greek and Roman mythology to Celtic and Asian mythology. It’s something like your one stop book for all your mythological needs. Really is a must have book in any readers collection.

  23. 5 out of 5

    April Helms

    An amazing collection of myths from all over. I keep this one on my reference shelves in my computer room in case I ever need to look something up. Great reference for Greek, Roman, Celtic and Egyptian mythology.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Ever get stumped on a mytholgical question? (yeah-because I know it happens everyday-right?) This book gives a brief description of just about every mythogical creature/god/human throughout time from all different regions from the Celtics to Rome and back again.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    This is an awesome reference book for mythical figures. I am dissapointed that it didn't cover more Egyptian figures and that it lumped them in the same chapter as West Asia. Other than that, it is an excellent reference book. This is an awesome reference book for mythical figures. I am dissapointed that it didn't cover more Egyptian figures and that it lumped them in the same chapter as West Asia. Other than that, it is an excellent reference book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nanci

    The tiny fonts make this compact book a bit hard on the eyes, but the extensive photos, pictures, variety of cultures covered in a multitude of entries make it a worthwhile addition to any library section on mythology.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ruric Amhari

    Comprehensive reference guide to world mythology with sections on classical world, norse lands, south and central asia, egypt and west asia, celtic world, east asia. Entries are made in A-Z format within each main section with lots of full colour illustrations and photos.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

    A fantastically written book on myths, mythology, and Gods from every country that practices any sort of religion. Full of drawings, photographs and, of course stories and myths, this book will teach every member of your family something about mythology.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jovy

    Love this book! It's a good reference for mythology not just Greek or Roman but also Norse, Egyptian and other myths. It is a huge book, but what can you expect, it's an encyclopedia for mythologies for crying out loud! If you don't like encyclopedia do not read this. Love this book! It's a good reference for mythology not just Greek or Roman but also Norse, Egyptian and other myths. It is a huge book, but what can you expect, it's an encyclopedia for mythologies for crying out loud! If you don't like encyclopedia do not read this.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is a great book. It is very well organized with beautiful art and tells the stories very well.

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