nature of myth, archetypes, mythic cycles
Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion by Sir James George
Frazer is one of the foundational works in the field of mythology and
religion. Scroll down the page for chapter headings. The website's introductory
blurb is helpful: "A monumental study in comparative folklore,
magic and religion, The Golden Bough shows parallels between the rites
and beliefs, superstitions and taboos of early cultures and those of
Christianity. It had a great impact on psychology and literature and
remains an early classic anthropological resource."
In Search of Myths and Heroes. The venerable Michael Wood has produced many television series on mythical subjects over the years. This one explores the nature of myths, archetypes, and heroes, focusing on four stories: the Queen of Sheba, the search fro Shangrila, King Arthur, and Jason and the Golden Fleece.
Search of Cupid and Psyche: Myth and Legend in Children's Literature
is a course page from Rutgers that deals with a particular archetype:
the beast marriage. The site includes many texts of different versions
and many critical readings. Particularly helpful is the instructor's
inclusion of "The
Structure of Myths" from Mircea Eliade's Myth and Reality.
the Homeric Hymns and Homerica: Fragments of the Epic Cycle (Online Medieval & Classical Library)
Fragments of the Epic Cycle, translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White
(1914): War of the Titans to the Epigoni.
The Epic Cycle (ed. Gregory Nagy) from the Center for Hellenic Studies.
article on Wagner's
Ring Cycle will get you started if you don't know anything about
piece for the New Yorker on the relationship between Wagner's Ring and
Tolkien's trilogy: The
Ring and the Rings.
Ring and Der Ring des Nibelungen from One
Ring to Rule Them All, A Study of the History, Symbolism and Meaning
of the One Ring in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth by David Harvey.
Rings Were Round and There the Resemblence Eases: Tolkien, Wagner, Nationalism,
and Modernity, by Bradley J. Birzer. A lecture for a conference
of Genesis (Revised Standard Version)
for the Translation of Gilgamesh, and a translation
by Yanita Chen for MythHome. The MythHome pages also include some comments
on the need for mythology.
Epic of Gilgamesh (Translated by Maureen Gallery Kovacs) from Academy
for Ancient Texts.
on the text and background of Gilgamesh from the School
of Oriental and African Studies in London.
narrative from the Gilgamesh Epic translated by E. A. Speiser.
Elish: the Epic of Creation, translated by L. W. King (1902). From
The Seven Tablets of Creation.
of Babylon and Egypt in Relation to Hebrew Tradition--a series of
lectures on the parallels.
Noah Kramer's Sumerian
Mythology--a seminal work in Ancient Near Eastern religious studies.
The introduction to the page reads as follows: "The Sumerians were
a non-Semitic, non-Indo-European people who lived in southern Babylonia
from 4000-3000 B.C.E. They invented cuneiform writing, and their spiritual
beliefs influenced all successive Near Eastern religions, including
Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They produced an extensive body of
literature, among the oldest in the world. Samuel Noah Kramer spent
most of his life studying this literature, by piecing together clay
tablets in far-flung museums. This short work gives translations or
summaries of the most important Sumerian myths."
Chaldean Account of the Deluge, by George Smith (1873). "This
paper, which was read before the Society of Biblical Archaeology in
London on December 3rd, 1872, caused a sensation . . . Smith started
to find bits and pieces which suggested an account of a flood. In 1872,
Smith found a large fragment covered with a thick deposit which, when
removed, revealed a large part of the flood narrative. Reportedly, he
exclaimed, "I am the first man to read that after more than two
thousand years of oblivion," put the tablet on a table, and ran
around the room maniacally, taking off his clothes! . . . The tablet
had the story of a deluge, which resembled the account in Genesis, but
which was obviously older than the Bible. Today, we know this as the
eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh epic."
Classics Archive (from MIT; trans. Benjamin Jowett)
Classics Archive (trans. Benjamin Jowett)
Mind's page on Plato
& Atlantis (uncredited translations of both dialogues, plus
translation of the Critias with notes & commentary from Ancient
Lies and History in Plato's Timaeus-Critias by Thomas K. Johansen
(University of Bristol/Center for Hellenic Studies; .pdf)
textual resources for other mythic traditions
Aegeus, and Theseus (Metamorphoses Bk.7)
Project's translation (edited by Brookes More) of the Minotaur section
of Book 8
Garth, John Dryden, etc., translation of Metamorphoses,
Book 8 (second from top)
Heroes. Or, Greek Fairy Tales for my Children. By Charles Kingsley
Legendary King of Athens (from Prof. Bernard Suzanne). The focus
of the website is Plato's dialogues, and his times.
Hawthorne's version of the
Minotaur story from Tanglewood
Other Classical (Greece & Rome)
Theoi Greek Mythology: Exploring Mythology in Classical Literature. This is a general site, but it has a library of eTexts.
The University of Pennsylvania Library page of online books has a section on Greek mythology that includes both eTexts and commentary.
E. M. Berens, Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome (Project Gutenberg), first published in 1880 and "Illustrated from Antique Sculptures." These aren't exactly primary sources, but they provide an interesting look into nineteenth-century sensibilities about myth.
The simplest source with readily understandable translations of Classical texts is the Internet Classics Archive; I've linked the list of authors. If you need information on where to look for a story, I can probably help.
on Arthur from the Camelot Project.
Arthur: Tales of the Round Table. Edited by Andrew Lang (from Sacred
Texts). This is not properly a primary source, but is rather a compilation
of some of the tales by a well-regarded scholar of fairy tales and legends.
Morte D'Arthur from the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia
Mabinogion, translated by Lady Charlotte Guest (1877). Sacred Texts.
Creation of the World According to the Upanishads from Mircea Eliade's Myths of Creation and of Origin (in From Primitives to Zen)
Bhagavad Gita Translated by Ramanand Prasad (From Exploring
Ancient World Cultures)
Historical Context of The Bhagavad Gita and Its Relation to Indian Religious
Doctrines by Soumen De (EAWC)
Bhagavad Gita Translated by Edwin Arnold (1885). From Sacred Texts.
Sacred Texts: an introduction
to the Gita, with a section-by-section gloss.
Fairy Tales and Jakata
Tales from Sacred Texts (two compilation/translations, both from
1912 of Indian stories).
Short Buddhist Texts includes both Indian and Chinese examples.
between South Asian and Scandinavian stories would seem unlikely, but
Lauren Wells Hasten's article, "Eddas
and Vedas: Comparative Mythology and the Aryan Invasion Hypothesis"
(Department of Anthropology, CCNY Brooklyn, 1996) offers some insights
both into linguistic mythology, and they way in which two
seemingly disparate traditions might well be related.
Volsung Saga translated by William Morris. For other Morris translations, see the Translations page at Morris Online Edition.
Prose Edda of Snorri Sturlson. Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur
Nibelungenlied (trans. Georg Henry Needler)
(Iceland): primary texts, translations, folk & fairy tales, lots
in Cyberspace (Beowulf on Steorarum): terrifically cool online edition
of the poem.
Kalevala (Finland) by Elias Lönnrot, translated by John Martin
Crawford (1888) from Sacred Texts. More Scandinavian texts are available
page devoted to Tolkien's sources for Lord of the Rings.
Ring Cycle is a page devoted to Wagner's series of operas, Der
Ring des Nibelungen.
Chinese Classics, from Sacred Texts, includes most of the central
religious texts of China
Short Chinese Texts, also from Sacred Texts; see also Miscellaneous
Short Buddhist Texts.
Sacred Books of China - The Texts of Confucianism. Translated by
James Legge (1879). Part I (Sacred Books of the East, Volume 3).
For more texts from both China and India, see the Sacred Texts index
Books of the East.
G. Jung's forward to the I Ching (Jung's own analysis of one of
China's sacred books; very long, but very informative).
Works from various sources
Tales, illustrated by Virginia Frances Sterett. The Penn Press, 1921
(Digital). This edition of Hawthorne's adaptations of Greek myths has
gorgeous pictures by an artist whose work is reminiscent of Erte (Roman
de Tirtoff). Download the .pdf version. The stories include those of Theseus,
Proserpina (Persephone), Circe, and The Golden Fleece.
Project Gutenberg often reprints books with their original illustrations, so if you're interested in a particular story, you might look at the main site for links to out-of-print books with wonderful old images.
If your phone or tablet allows book downloads, free books with illustrations are often available. Check bookshelf apps for options. I've found several old books that I downloaded from FreeBooks and iTunes.
add more of these when I find them.