Previous Prize Recipients
Collecting books about Greek mythology might seem initially to
be a relatively simple task: grab the nearest copy of Graves' Greek
Myths and possibly the Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and
Religion and call it a day. The only problem is that the way
reference volumes like these present the framework of myth is
completely disconnected from the literary and social culture that
produced it. The ancients didn't categorize, file, and
cross-reference their folk stories; they retold them repeatedly,
changing the nuances of the story as time passed on and the values
of their culture gradually shifted. Orestes, once the brave and
blameless son of Agamemnon who avenges his father's betrayal and
murder by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus, becomes a
witness to the birth of Athenian democracy and later a raving
madman. Agamemnon himself, the very picture of royal pride in
Homer's account, is later made into the sniveling servant of the
Achaean mob by the playwright Euripides. In epic and lyric poetry,
plays, private performances, dialogues, and even international
relations, the Greeks continually spun newer and newer yarns to
suit their purposes, but they frequently found their thread in the
same places. Their principal sources were Homer's Iliad and
The first important piece of information I learned about Greek
mythology was that it wasn't a fixed set of tales, as the
collections of myths I'd read as a child suggested. To the Greeks
themselves, myths were far more fluid and adaptable. Consider, for
example, the curse of the House of Atreus. Few would contest that
such a curse existed; family murders were taboo then as now, and
Clytemnestra's murder of her husband and Orestes' murder of his
mother are both horrific crimes. The origin of the curse is,
however, in dispute. Some say that it began when Agamemnon and
Menelaus' father Atreus, angered at his brother Thyestes for
seducing his wife, decided to take a particularly grisly revenge on
him. Feigning reconciliation, he invited Thyestes into his home,
then served him his own children in a stew. When the severed hands
and feet were brought out on a platter, and Thyestes realized what
had happened, he laid a curse on his brother, that all his
descendants would perish by similar treachery. But some say the
curse began earlier, with Pelops, the father of Atreus and
Thyestes. Pelops could only win his wife Hippodameia by getting the
help of a stable boy; in return, the boy, who loved her, was
promised a night in her bed. But after he and Hippodameia ran away,
they went back on their pledge and pushed the boy who helped them
off a cliff. As he fell, he cursed all the descendants of Pelops.
Finally, some say the curse began earlier with Pelops' father
Tantalus, who frequently had the gods as dinner guests. Overcome by
his own arrogance, he decided to trick them by feeding them his own
son in a stew. Of course, Zeus was not fooled, and he laid a curse
on Tantalus' family and sentenced Tantalus himself to an eternity
of hunger and thirst in the underworld. These three stories all
represent the curse of the House of Atreus. There is no 'right'
The second important piece of information I learned about Greek
mythology was that, if there was in fact a 'right' version of the
myths, it was Homer. It is a cliché of classical scholarship
that Homer was the Bible of the Ancient Greeks, and as with many
clichés, it has a grain of truth. The Greeks did not
frequently peruse Homer's works, since many could not read. The
text of the Homeric epics was passed down orally, and by the
classical era it was recited on special occasions and by rhapsodes.
The Greeks were very familiar with the stories in the Homeric
epics, and believed that, if not literally true, they had an
essential wisdom. Furthermore, writers, especially poets, composed
entire works based on stories mentioned only briefly in Homer, such
as the story of Agamemnon's return to Mycenae or of Oedipus'
misfortunes. Almost every ancient writer who uses mythology in his
or her works is, therefore, in an essential way, a direct literary
descendant of Homer. My collection is based around this essential
principle: Greek mythology is not a unified idea but a complicated
web of tales, at the center of which lies the two most important
works in all of ancient literature, Homer's Iliad and
My collection has had three phases. The first and earliest phase
occurred when I was in elementary school and my interest in Greek
mythology was sparked by posters walls of my fifth grade classroom
that had pictures of the Olympian gods, their Greek and Roman
names, their special powers, and a few of the most famous stories
about them. During this period I obtained several collections of
Greek myths, including those by Edith Hamilton, Bulfinch, and
D'Aulaire. I also bought my first copies of Homer's Odyssey and
Ovid's Metamorphoses. The second phase began about four years ago
in high school. I took an English elective about modern Irish
adaptations of Ovid's tales, including Shaw's Pygmalion, Wilde's
Picture of Dorian Gray, and Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a
Young Man, and I enjoyed the class so much that I began to seek out
receptions of the myths which I had come to love as a child. This
phase lasted for two years, until I switched concentrations from
English to Classics and began to amass a considerable collection of
editions of ancient texts, commentaries, translations, and
Except for translations, good books about Classics are hard to
find… except near a university. I've been extremely lucky to
spend the last four years in Hyde Park, and I've been a frequent
customer at the Seminary Co-op, Powell's, and O'Gara's. In fact,
except for my copy of Le Nozze di Cadmo e Armonia, which I had to
order specially from Italy, all of my most treasured books are from
college towns. I bought my first edition set of Grene and
Lattimore's The Complete Greek Tragedies at O'Gara's, where the
wonderful owner spent over an hour talking to me about how
differently the Greek language is used in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and
Euripides. In a recent, very fruitful trip to Palo Alto I was lucky
enough to find beautiful copies of Dryden's translation of the
Aeneid, Pope's translation of the Metamorphoses, and, a special
treasure, a copy of Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus illustrated with
When I enter graduate school in the fall, I intend to study ancient
authors' use and manipulation of Homeric stories, and I know my
collection of books on the subject will continue to grow. I've
collected a large number of translations over the years, only a few
of which are mentioned in the attached bibliography, so I've
recently been trying to expand my collection to include more
editions and commentaries of the ancient texts. I hope to soon find
a good edition of the text of Homer's Iliad (West's new Teubner is
a good start, but controversial) and more books concerning the
Homeric Hymns and the more obscure, non-Homeric texts in the epic
cycle, including the Aethiopis, Little Iliad, Iliou Persis and
Telegonia. I also intend to expand the scholarship component of my
collection, especially concerning the sources which ancient authors
used in composing their works. Finally, in the last few months I've
become increasingly enthusiastic about the history of classical
scholarship, an interest which led to my purchasing Chapman's
Homer, Dryden's Virgil and Pope's Ovid; I hope to add further
classic translations of classical authors, as well as the work of
distinguished classicists of the nineteenth century, including R.
C. Jebb and Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf. Such books are
expensive, but I tend to follow the advice of Desiderius Erasmus, a
fellow classical scholar and book collector: "If I have a little
money, I buy some books; if any is left, I buy food and
Ms. Zuckerberg won the 4th-year prize in 2007
for the collection described in the preceding essay.
Benner, Allen Rogers. Selections
from Homer's Iliad: With an Introduction, Notes, a Short Homeric
Grammar, and a Vocabulary. Norman: University of Oklahoma
Press, 2001. Condition: Excellent.
Evelyn-White, Hugh G., ed. Hesiod, Homeric Hymns, Epic
Cycle, Homerica, Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 2002. Condition: Excellent.
Homer. The Iliad. Translated by George Chapman. Edited
by Garry Wills, Chapman's Homer. Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1998. Condition: Very Good.
George Chapman's translations of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey are
classics, written in installments from 1598 until completed in
1616. It was the most popular translation of Homer for centuries,
and was famously lauded by the poet John Keats in his 1816 sonnet
'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer,' "Oft of one wide expanse I
had been told / That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne; / Yet
never did I breath its pure serene / Till I heard Chapman speak out
loud and bold…" (lines 5-8).
---. The Iliad. Translated by Robert Fagles. New York:
Penguin Books, 1990. Condition: Very Good.
I have in my collection four very different translations of the
Iliad. Although many people are fanatic partisans of one translator
or another, especially Fagles and Lattimore, I think that each
translation has its strengths. Fagles' is the most successful in
expressing in English the poetry of Homer, while Lattimore's
translation is truer to the Greek vocabulary and grammar but a less
---. The Iliad. Translated by Stanley Lombardo.
Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1987. Condition:
---. The Iliad. Translated by Richmond Lattimore.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951. Condition: Good.
---. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles. New
York: Penguin Books, 1996. Condition: Very Good.
---. The Odyssey. Translated by Richmond Lattimore. New
York: HarperPerennial, 1965. Condition: Good.
---. The Odyssey. Translated by George Chapman. Edited
by Garry Wills, Chapman's Homer. Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 2000. Condition: Good.
Greek Students of Homer
Aeschylus. The Oresteia: A New Translation for the
Theater. Translated by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty and David
Grene. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. Condition:
Apollodorus. The Library of Greek Mythology. Translated
by Robin Hard. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Condition:
Apollonius of Rhodes. The Argonautika. Translated by
Peter Green. Berkeley: University of Los Angeles Press, 1997.
Aristotle. "De Arte Poetica." In Oxford Classical Texts, edited
by Rudolf Kassel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965. Condition:
Like New, Hardcover.
Aristotle was one of the first Homeric scholars. In his Poetics, he
identifies the features and strengths of epic and claims that
Homer's use of metaphor and imagination was unmatched in classical
---. "Poetics." edited by D.W. Lucas. Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1968. Condition: Good.
---. Poetics, with the Tractatus Coislianus, a Hypothetical
Reconstruction of Poetics Ii, the Fragments of on Poets.
Translated by Richard Janko. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing
Company, 1987. Condition: Good.
Bacchylides. "A Selection." In Cambridge Greek and Latin
Classics, edited by H. Maehler. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2004. Condition: Very Good.
Euripides. "Cyclops." edited by R.A.S. Seaford. London: Bristol
Classical Press, 1984. Condition: Good.
Euripides' Cyclops is the only extant example of an entire genre of
Greek poetry, the satyr play. Euripides creatively reimagines
Odysseus' experience in the Cyclops' cave by tying in a second
story, that of a group of satyrs imprisoned by Polyphemus while
attempting to rescue the captive Dionysus.
---. "Fabulae: Tomus I." in Oxford Classical Texts, edited by J.
Diggle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984. Condition:
---. "Fabulae: Tomus III." in Oxford Classical Texts, edited by
J. Diggle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Condition: Like
Gorgias. "Encomium of Helen." edited by D. M. MacDowell. London:
Bristol Classical Press, 1982. Condition: Good.
As a rhetorical exercise, orators in Classical Athens would
frequently attempt to prosecute or defend Helen. This practice
supposedly began with the lyric poet Stesichorus, who wrote a poem
abusing Helen and allegedly was struck blind. He later wrote a poem
to rehabilitate her, claiming that she never went to Troy at all
but was sent off to Egypt by Aphrodite and replaced with a phantom;
as the story goes, upon finishing this poem his eyesight was
restored. Gorgias' work belongs to the genre of defense-speeches
Grene, David; Lattimore, Richmond, ed. The Complete Greek
Tragedies. 4 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959.
First Edition. Condition: Good, Hardcover.
This first-edition set of the complete works of Aeschylus,
Sophocles and Euripides is one of the most prized pieces in my
collection. Aeschylus once famously said that the subjects of
tragedy were "scraps from Homer's feast." Every playwright composed
plays about Homeric subjects, e.g. Aeschylus' Oresteia, Sophocles'
Ajax and Philoctetes, and Euripides' Helen, Hecuba, Trojan Women,
and two Iphigenia plays. The playwrights also wrote plays
concerning myths that Homer mentions in passing, such as the myth
of Oedipus, which was the subject of six tragedies: Aeschylus'
Seven Against Thebes, Sophocles' Antigone, Oedipus Tyrannus, and
Oedipus at Colonus, and Euripides' Suppliant Women and Phoenician
Jebb, R.C., ed. Philoctetes. Edited by P.E. Easterling,
Sophocles: Plays. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2004.
Reprint 1. Condition: Excellent.
Lobel, Edgar; Page, Denys, ed. Poetarum Lesbiorum
Fragmenta. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Condition:
The poets of Lesbos, especially Sappho, were concerned with Homeric
themes such as the motivation of Helen.
Nisetich, Frank. Pindar's Victory Songs. Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980. Condition: Fair.
Pindar is a student of Homer in two different ways: his odes
frequently mention Homeric stories, and he even occasionally
compares his poetic skill and inspiration to that of Homer, showing
a real sensitivity to Homer's role in the Greek poetic
Pindar. "Victory Odes." In Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics,
edited by M.M. Willcock. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1995. Condition: Good.
Plato. "Opera: Tomus III." In Oxford Classical Texts, edited by
John Burnet. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1903. Condition:
Plato is frequently considered a hater of poetry, because he
excludes it from his ideal city in the Republic. However, Socrates
frequently quotes Homer throughout the corpus, and a very
interesting short dialogue, the Ion, consists of Socrates'
discussion with a rhapsode, a professional reciter of the Homeric
Rouse, W.H.D., ed. Nonnus: Dionysiaca. 3 vols, in Loeb
Classical Library. Cambridge: Harvard University press, 2004.
Condition: Like New, Hardcover.
Sophocles. "Antigone." edited by Ignatios Salakis. Athens:
Ekdosis Pataki, 1997. Condition: Excellent.
I bought this edition of Sophocles' Antigone in Athens last Spring.
It is a bilingual edition, with a modern Greek translation facing
the ancient text and notes in the back.
---. Oedipus the King: The Greek Text Translated into
English Verse by Francis Storr, with an Introduction by Thornton
Wilder and Illustrated with Wood Engravings by Demetrios Galanis.
New York: Heritage Press, 1956. Condition: Excellent,
This book is the most beautiful one in my collection. Its text is
not itself noteworthy, simply a reprint of R. C. Jebb's 1886
edition; the translation, while simple and poetic, is not
outstanding either. However, this volume's typeface and bi-tone red
and black engravings make it a work of art and a pleasure to read,
rather than a particularly valuable scholarly contribution.
Theocritus. "Select Poems." edited by Kenneth J. Dover.
Wauconda: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 1994. Condition: Very
Roman Students of Homer
Cauchi, Simon, ed. The Sixth Book of Virgil's Aeneid,
Translated and Commented on by Sir John Harington (1604).
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. Condition: Good, Hardcover.
Horace. "Epodes and Odes: A New Annotated Latin Edition." edited
by Daniel H. Garrison. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
---. "Opera." In Oxford Classical Texts, edited by H.W. Garrod.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1901. Condition: Good,
Juvenal. "Satires, Book 1." In Cambridge Greek and Latin
Classics, edited by Susanna Morton Braund. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1996. Condition: Good.
Although Juvenal does not himself frequently write about mythical
subjects, he does satirize epic poets, scholars, and even women who
brag about their ability to quote Homer. His satires give readers
an interesting perspective on the literary life of Imperial
Lyne, R.O.A.M., ed. Ciris: A Poem Attributed to Vergil,
Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1978. Condition: Excellent.
Ovid. "Amores, Medicamina Faciei Femineae, Ars Amatoria, Remedia
Amoris." In Oxford Classical Texts, edited by E. J. Kenney. Oxford:
Oxford Unviersity Press, 1995. Condition: Excellent. Hardcover.
---. "Ars Amatoria Book 3." In Cambridge Classical Texts and
Commentaries, edited by Roy K. Gibson. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2003. Condition: Very Good, Hardcover.
Ovid's best known work is his Metamorphoses, a masterful
intertwining of myths from Homer, tragedy, and a few possibly of
his own invention. The Ars Amatoria is much less well known. The
first two books are a manual for how to get - and keep - the woman
of your dreams, and the third book is the reverse, a manual for
women. Most of the examples Ovid uses, incongruous though it may
seem, are from myth. In book 3, while explaining how women should
flatter their best features, he mentions how dark-skinned Andromeda
wore pale clothing, and which sexual positions would be most
attractive for tall, robust Andromache.
---. "Heroides XVI-XXI." In Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics,
edited by E. J. Kenney. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1996. Condition: Very Good.
Ovid's Heroides are a series of letters, written by the wives of
epic heroes, including Medea, Penelope, Phaedra, and Ariadne. Some
of the most interesting letters, although their authorship is
uncertain, are the 'paired' letters, between Hero and Leander,
Acontius and Cydippe, and, most interestingly, the letter from
Paris to Helen, trying to convince her to leave Menelaus for him,
and Helen's response, expressing her willingness to leave and her
love for him.
---. Metamorphoses. Translated by Alexander Pope, John
Dryden, Joseph Addison, William Congreve. New York: Heritage Press,
1961. Condition: Good, Hardcover.
---. "Metamorphoses." In Oxford Classical Texts, edited by R. J.
Tarrant. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Condition:
---. "Metamorphoses, Books 1-5." edited by William S. Anderson.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.
---. "Metamorphoses, Books 6-10." edited by William S. Anderson.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972.
Propertius. "Opera." In Oxford Classical Texts, edited by E. A.
Barber. Oxford: Oxford Unviersity Press, 1960. Condition: Fair,
Statius. "Thebaid." In Loeb Classical Library, edited by D.R.
Shackleton Bailey. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.
Condition: Good, Hardcover.
Thomson, D.F.S., ed. Catullus: Edited with a Textual and
Interpretive Commentary. Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
1998. Condition: Very Good.
Virgil. "Aeneid 1-6." edited by R. Deryck Williams. London:
Bristol Classical Press, 1972. Condition: Fair.
---. "Opera." In Oxford Classical Texts, edited by R. A. B.
Mynors. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969. Condition: Very
---. The Aeneid. Translated by Robert Fagles. New York:
Penguin Books, 2006. Condition: Very Good, Hardcover.
---. The Aeneid: Translated by John Dryden. New York:
Heritage Press, 1944. Condition: Good, Hardcover.
Perhaps the most important epic modeled after Homer, Virgil
famously began his text with the words "arma virumque cano", to
show that he was writing a combination of the Iliad and Odyssey.
Dryden's translation is interesting in its own right, as a subtle
commentary on post-Glorious Revolution England. This volume has a
third attraction, beside Virgil's poetic artistry and Dryden's
political and social commentary: the cover, is embossed with a
picture of Venus, Aeneas' mother.
Modern Students of Homer
Aligheri, Dante. "Inferno: Canti Scelti." edited by Celestina
Beneforti. Rome: Bonacci Editore SRL, 1994. Condition: Good.
Aside from portraying Homer himself as a soul in Limbo, one of the
virtuous unbaptized, Dante includes several Homeric characters in
the various circles of Hell, including Helen in the circle of the
lustful, and Odysseus with the treacherous.
---. The Inferno. Translated by Jean Hollander Robert
Hollander. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. Condition: Excellent.
Bate. Jonathan. Shakespeare and Ovid. Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1993. Condition: Very Good.
Cairns, Douglas L., ed. Oxford Readings in Homer's
Iliad. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Condition: Like
Calasso, Roberto. Le Nozze Di Cadmo E Armonia. Milan:
gli Adelphi, 1988. Condition: Very Good.
One of the most important books in my collection, Calasso's The
Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony is a brilliant retelling of the
prismatic nature of Greek myth. Like Ovid's Metamorphoses, each
myth flows seamlessly into the next, and some myths are retold in
different forms, such as how Teiresias, the blind seer of Homer's
Odyssey, came to lose his sight and gain vision into the future.
This copy, the first edition in the original Italian, was a rare
find and very difficult to come by in the U.S.
---. Literature and the Gods. Translated by Tim Parks.
New York: Vintage Books, 2001. Condition: Excellent.
---. The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony. Translated by
Tim Parks. New York: Vintage Books, 1993. Condition: Fair.
Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays.
Justin O'Brien ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1955. Condition:
Foley, John Miles. Traditional Oral Epic : The Odyssey,
Beowulf, and the Serbo-Croatian Return Song. Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1990. Condition: Fair.
Gaiman, Neil. The Sandman: Fables and Reflections. Vol.
6. New York: DC Comics, 1993. Condition: Very Good.
Although Gaiman incorporated aspects of myth from many different
cultures into his Sandman graphic novels, the Greek influence is
particularly strong, especially in the chapters concerning his
marriage to the muse Calliope and the fate of their son, Orpheus.
The story of Orpheus' fateful marriage to Eurydice is told
beautifully in this volume, as well as the story of his subsequent
Garner, Richard. From Homer to Tragedy: The Art of Allusion
in Greek Poetry. London: Routledge, 1990. Condition: Good,
Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. New York: Penguin
Books, 1955. Condition: Good.
Heaney, Seamus. The Burial at Thebes. New York: Farrar,
Straus, and Giroux, 2004. Condition: Excellent, Hardcover.
A version of Sophocles' Antigone, just as The Cure at Troy is a
version of Sophocles' Philoctetes. Heaney does not simply
translate, but makes Sophocles' plays into entirely new poems,
germane to the political problems of the present day, especially in
---. The Cure at Troy. New York: Farrar, Straus, and
Giroux, 1991. Condition: Good.
Hughes, Ted. Tales from Ovid. New York: Farrar, Straus,
and Giroux, 1997. Condition: Very Good.
Joyce, James. Ulysses. New York: Vintage Books, 1986.
In James Joyce's most famous work, Leopold Bloom becomes a modern
day Odysseus, and his walk through Dublin and reconciliation with
his wife match Odysseus' journey back to Penelope in Ithaca.
Kossman, Nina, ed. Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on
Classical Myths. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Condition: Good, Hardcover.
Murakami, Haruki. Kafka on the Shore. Translated by
Philip Gabriel. New York: Vintage International Press, 2005.
One of Murakami's newest novels, Kafka on the Shore tells the story
of a teenaged boy who runs away from home to escape a strange
prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother, along
with the story of a man who lost most of his intelligence, but
gained the ability to talk to cats, during a strange otherworldly
encounter at his elementary school. Kafka is especially interesting
as a modern-day Oedipus.
Shakespeare, William. The Complete Works. New York:
Barnes and Noble Books, 1623, reprinted 1994. Condition: Excellent,
Terry, Philip, ed. Ovid Metamorphosed. London: Random
House, 2000. Condition: Very Good.
A collection of modern stories based on the tales from Ovid's
Watkins, Calvert. How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of
Indo-European Poetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Condition: Very Good.
Watkins' important and ambitious book has two main goals. The first
is, through a close examination of poetic formulae such as the
phrase "undying glory", to examine the origins of Indo-European
poetry. The second is to trace the lineage of several important,
commonly told stories, such as the story of the hero who kills a
dragon. Homer is very important to the first part of his theory,
especially because of the presence of formulae and epithets;
equally important is the Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo, which
tells of how Apollo killed the massive serpent Python at