144 pages, 47 colour photos and colour illustrations
This is a fascinating exploration of the role of the botanical in ancient Greek and Roman myth and classical literature. This engaging book focuses on the perennially fascinating topic of plants in Greek and Roman myth. The author, an authority on the gardens, art, and literature of the classical world, introduces The Mythology of Plants's main themes with a discussion of gods and heroes in ancient Greek and Roman gardens.
The following chapters recount the everyday uses and broader cultural meaning of plants with particularly strong mythological associations. These include common garden plants such as narcissus and hyacinth; apple and pomegranate, which were potent symbols of fertility; and sources of precious incense including frankincense and myrrh. Following the sweeping botanical commentary are the myths themselves, told in the original voice of Ovid, classical antiquity's most colourful mythographer.
The Mythology of Plants's interdisciplinary approach will appeal to a wide audience, ranging from readers interested in archaeology, classical literature, and ancient history to garden enthusiasts. With an original translation of selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses, an extensive bibliography, a useful glossary of names and places, and a rich selection of images including exquisite botanical illustrations, The Mythology of Plants is unparalleled in scope and realization.
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Annette Giesecke is professor of classics at the University of Delaware.