This engaging book focuses on the perennially fascinating topic of plants in Greek and Roman myth. The author, an authority on the gardens, art, and literature of the classical world, introduces the book’s main themes with a discussion of gods and heroes in ancient Greek and Roman gardens. The following chapters recount the everyday uses and broader cultural meaning of plants with particularly strong mythological associations. These include common garden plants such as narcissus and hyacinth; pomegranate and apple , which were potent symbols of fertility; and sources of precious incense including frankincense and myrrh. Following the sweeping botanical commentary are the myths themselves, told in the original voice of Ovid, classical antiquity’s most colorful mythographer.
The volume’s interdisciplinary approach will appeal to a wide audience, ranging from readers interested in archaeology, classical literature, and ancient history to garden enthusiasts. With an original translation of selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, an extensive bibliography, a useful glossary of names and places, and a rich selection of images including exquisite botanical illustrations, this book is unparalleled in scope and realization.
Annette Giesecke is professor of classics at the University of Delaware. She is the author of The Epic City: Urbanism, Utopia, and the Garden in Ancient Greece and Rome (Harvard University Press, 2007) aswell as editor of and contributor to Earth Perfect? Nature, Utopia, and the Garden (Black Dog Publishing,2012) and The Good Gardener? Nature, Humanity, and the Garden (Artifice Books on Architecture, 2014).
“Annette Giesecke artfully reveals the legendary lust, blood, and vengeance behind . . . common greenery. . . . The Mythology of Plants as a whole will delight a variety of readers.”