Robert E. Bell,
Women of Classical Mythology:
A Biographical Dictionary

(Oxford University Press, 1991)

14. The Goddess that was adapted by Rome from the Greek Artemis was: ___________.
> a. Juno
> b. Demeter
> c. Diana
> d. None of the above

I have seen questions like this on tests a thousand times. So have most of the other public school scholars of Western Civilization at one one time or another. Quickly! The answer is ... C. Of course it is. Answered it a thousand times. MEEP! But thank you for playing! The answer is a tricky one. While Diana is the Roman equivalent of Artemis, She is of Latin and Sabine origin. So what? A minor differentation? Not really. There are almost as many differences between She and Artemis as there are similarities. Diana had priests with a bloody heritage. Intrigued?

One does not need to be a student of mythology, folklore, literature or women's studies to appreciate Robert E. Bell's fine Women of Classical Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary, but should one be such a scholar, then this book is a treasure indeed. There are 434 pages of Everywoman and her Mother in classical mythology, some so obscure that they barely rate a line or two, so brief their part in the old tales. Bell has also provided a skimpy section on the men in their lives, but considering the topic of this reference book, it is an added benefit. Although there is no bibliography, each entry is more than adequately annotated for further research in the various texts. Who is Stilbo? One of the Oceanides (also defined in this dictionary, so no sweat). How do we know this? She is mentioned in the Fables: Preface 6 of Hyginus.

While it is not the Stith Thompson Motif Index in scope, it is miles past the Cliff Notes versions of the myths. A worthy investment for the student and a fun trivia reader for the rest. It will also appeal to those exploring the roots of modern paganism, alternate spirituality, and women's studies. I recommend it highly for a prolonged look or three if not an outright purchase. It is well worth the minor investment.

[ by Debbie Gayle Rose ]



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