Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheke and the Greek mythological tradition
Pseudo-Apollodoros' Bibliotheke is undeniably the most useful single source for
the mythical tradition of Greece. Enclosing in a short space a remarkable quantity
of information, it offers concise and comprehensive accounts of most of the myths
that had come to matter beyond local boundaries, providing its readers with their
most popular variants.
This study concentrates on the most familiar stories contained in the first
book of the Bibliotheke and their proper place in the overall structure of Greek
mythology. Chapter One is dedicated to the backbone of Apollodoros' work: the
chronological organisation of Greek mythical history in genealogies. It discusses
the author's individual plan in the arrangement and presentation of his material and
his conscious striving for cohesion.
Chapters Two and Three are closely linked together: they deal with different stages
of the uniquen arrativeo f the succession-mytha,n accountw hich ultimately comes
from a single, archaic source (with minor reworkings to agree with the prevailing
tradition of the myth from the Hellenistic period onwards), thus reaffirming
Apollodoros' predilection for early accounts.
The fourth Chapter discusses the myths concerning on the family of Oineus
and the participants in the Kalydonian Boar Hunt, while the final Chapter
concentrates on the first part of the Argonautic expedition, the voyage to Kolchis,
as an indication of how Apollodoros reports the whole of the expedition. This
study concludes that the mythographer's main aim is to reproduce a cohesive and
faithful summary of the canonical versions of the myths he records, but not
necessarily of his sources.
Every myth is discussed in the context of the long Greek mythological
tradition, giving us a rare insight to Apollodoros' main preoccupations in
structuring his work and the handling of his sources, and rewarding us with
tantalising glimpses of many Greek myths that are otherwise lost.