Mythoi Koinoi: An Online, Open-Access Anthology of Greek and Roman Myth aims to provide undergraduate university students with free, easy access to primary source texts and images for Greek and Roman mythology. Mythoi Koinoi means “Mythology for the People” in Ancient Greek, and it is intended to give everyone who engages with it access to the writings and artistic creations of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
This anthology began with the observation that many of the texts that we study in our Greek and Roman mythology classes have translations that are available online, either in the public domain or under open access copyright, though many of them are archaic, unreadable, and therefore inaccessible to modern students. Accessibility, then, has been the guiding principle for the book. We set out to update these open access translations, providing clear introductions that situate each text according to time, place, and genre, and organizing them into thematic chapters. We have adapted all translations that are more than forty years old for readability, while maintaining the integrity of the text and its faithfulness to the original languages.
Additionally, while there are thousands of primary source images related to Ancient Greek and Roman mythology available online, they are generally uncontextualized and scattered across multiple platforms, including museum databases, open access media collections, and popular webpages. We collected and organized these images, situating them within their respective chapters and providing necessary context for identification and interpretation.
We have taken a bare-bones approach to our framing narratives for each chapter, text, and image. Instead, we have opted to craft the book around the primary sources, and we leave it up to individual instructors and their students to create their own interpretations and narratives for the ancient material.
We also made the decision to include only images of artwork from the ancient world. Often, books and online resource on Greek and Roman myth that contain images of art from later periods tend to focus on art from the European Renaissance, which gives a skewed, Eurocentric, white-washed view of the ancient world. We have left it up to instructors to bring whichever elements of reception they want to into their classes, but we have sought to refrain from guiding the material in any particular direction.
The anthology contains more than 80 primary source texts from 35 authors, along with hyperlinks to online translations of many more. It has more than 600 high-resolution images of artwork from ancient Greece and Rome. In crafting the book, we have followed best practices for Universal Design for Learning. All images come with captions, descriptions and alternate text, for those that are unable to view them.
We have created two original maps for the book, one of the Mediterranean and one of the Aegean, and seven family trees. There are over 500 glossary entries that are accessible either through links within each of the primary texts, or through the glossary section of the backmatter. The book has 43 chapters, organized into 7 parts, starting from the myths of creation and destruction, and going through the aftermath of the Trojan War. The sixth chapter focuses specifically on mythology unique to Ancient Rome, and the seventh chapter focuses on the mythology and archaeology of cities and spaces.
Although the book is currently light on comparative material, we have included mythology from Mesopotamia and the Levant in two chapters, “Aphrodite” and “Flood Myths.” We hope that these chapters will give instructors and students the opportunity to explore some of the ways in which ancient Greek and Roman myth is connected to earlier mythology from ancient West Asia.
How to Use the Anthology
This anthology is intended to accompany undergraduate courses on Greek and Roman mythology. There is far too much material to include in a single course. Many of the chapters are long, due to the inclusion of the full text of plays and chapters from histories and epic poems. When downloaded as a printable PDF, the book is over 1,100 pages. It is therefore up to instructors to determine which elements to include and focus on in their courses.
The book is attended to accompany lectures and discussions, rather than to provide all the necessary information to understand Ancient Greek and Roman mythology on its own. It can be read by chapter, or particular primary source texts can be assigned and accessed from the Index of Primary Sources at the back of the book.
The anthology works best as an online textbook, which allows for full-functionality of the layout and all the elements (index, glossary, footnotes, media attributions, high-resolution, color images, and internal and external hyperlinks). However, it can also be downloaded as a PDF for print, digital distribution, or for use on an e-reader.
Hypothesis, an open annotation platform, is embedded within the book’s website. Any reader can therefore use Hypothesis with the book without having to install additional extensions.
Mythoi Koinoi is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike (CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0) license, which means that most of the content from this book can be used, copied, redistributed, remixed, transformed, and built upon in any medium or format for any purpose, except commercially. Appropriate credit must be given, a link provided to the license, and there must be indication if any changes were made. If the material is remixed, transformed, or built-upon, it must be distributed under the same license as the original.
Please note that some individual pieces of media (e.g. images) or source translations may be published under different licenses, such as non-derivative licenses. Licenses on individual sections, sources, or images override and take precedence over the general license for the book. All image licensing details can be found in the “Media Attributions” section of each chapter.
Edits and Additions
The nature of open access work is that it is always able to be adapted and improved upon. If you notice any errors or typos, or you think of any way that the book could be improved for your use or the use of others, please email Tara Mulder (firstname.lastname@example.org). I am happy to hear from you!