We will begin with a brief introduction to ancient literature. Yes, it is necessary to be exposed to some of the ancient ideas in order to understand the evolution of literature as it reflects society and history. Don’t bog yourself down in original texts, although it is admirable to try to decipher. Start with a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, an easy translation of the primary Roman and Greek gods and goddesses who were created in the minds of ancient peoples. Read Hamilton’s Introduction to Classical Mythology at the front of the book because she gives a good explanation of how the ancient mind rationalized natural events and explained the supernatural characteristics of man, such as his need for a deity. Since the book is organized by the names of the gods, it will be easy for you to read about the most common ones if you don’t want to read all the selections. A smattering will give you a good idea of how these ancient people decided between right and wrong, of the guidance they sought for decisions and direction, and their innate sense of responsibility for actions. Many of us who read and taught mythology think that man’s desire for a Perfect Higher Power and for a plausible explanation of man’s existence is clearly shown in mythology stories. The stage is set in these ancient tales for the Biblical truth to give answers to these quests.
Edith Hamilton (1867-1963) is best known for her thorough knowledge of Greek and Roman Mythology. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, she also resided as headmistress of the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore for 26 years. Awarded many honors for her contributions to education and ancient history, her works remain a primary text in many schools because of their accuracy and thoroughness. An interesting but not as well known work of hers you might find worth reading is Witness to the Truth: Christ and His Interpreters.
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