About my myth re-tellings

Published May 2, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

I thought I’d talk about what I’m hoping to do with them, eventually.  No, not hoping.  Planning.

Once I’ve told all the major myths, and the medium-sized ones, and at least a good chunk of the minor ones, I’m going to collect them all into a book.  (LeanPub has a way of pulling your blog posts for publication, which seems a handy way to start the process!)  Obviously, I’d edit them further, refine them, et cetera.  I don’t know if I’d be offering the book for free or charging for it; depends on a lot of factors.  (Especially depending on if anyone wants to illustrate it.  If that happens, then of course it wouldn’t be free.)

But that’s only step one of what I want to do.

When I was posting about Hyginus’ Fabulae recently, it occurred to me that the modern world really needed a truly comprehensive reference work on the Greek myths.  There are lots of reference books, of course, but how many tell you everything?

How many mention Patroclos’ Iphis in their entry on the name Iphis?  How many mention the fates met by Medea’s children before Euripides wrote his play Medea?  How many mention that there are three places named Thebes?  (Uh, counting the one in Egypt.)

So there needs to be a comprehensive reference work.  And I want to compile it.  And if my book of myths ends up being free (likely to be the case) then the work could cross-reference to it, so it wouldn’t have to try telling the full stories in such hyper-condensed chunks as the usual reference works.

Obviously, the reference work will take a long time to assemble, but writing the myth re-tellings is definitely helping the process, because although I’ve always loved the Greek myths, lately I’ve been so absorbed in the Trojan War that I’ve let its minutiae wipe out some of the details of the other myths.  (My brain has limited hard drive space.)

Of course, I’ll also have to read, like, absolutely everything.  And, realistically, I probably ought to also look at every single ancient work of art that has been recovered with a mythological theme, but…uh, yeah, that’s probably going too far; I’ll just use Gantz’s Early Greek Myth to get the artistic side.  (That is, after all, the purpose of reference works, to be referred to!  And mine is intended to be a reference work for non-scholars, not for scholars.  And it’s not like I wouldn’t give credit or something.)

I’ve tried to start reference books like this before, and always been swamped by the prospect when I’ve barely even started, so I have to be careful how I go about it this time.  But as long as I don’t let myself get overwhelmed, as long as I take it slow, it should probably be all right.

Maybe at first I should just start by making a little list, just jotting down what myths I’ve written, and what names are in each one, both places and people.

Anyone have any suggestions about how to proceed?  (Suggestions on how to improve the myth re-tellings are also always welcome, btw.)

One comment on “About my myth re-tellings

  • Having just finished an essay on Greek mythology and having trouble finding decent references – I totally agree about a comprehensive work being needed. Something like what Jack Zipes and Marina Warner do for fairytales – with the footnotes and that and annotations of where else to go for more detail or things of interest.

    ….I think I just expanded your reference book to a collection…how much time have you got?

    Liked by 1 person

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