More than perhaps any other folkloric tradition, whether oral or written, the myths of classical Greece and Rome have survived and pervaded the consciousness of lands far-flung from their source. The mythic world of the ancients, peopled by glamorous gods and unstoppable heroes, in which the mortal and immortal commingled, is even now a living presence in 21st century culture, rather than a literary relic. Whether we know them by their Roman or their Greek names - Artemis or Minerva, Poseidon or Neptune - the figures of these ancietn myths captured the imagination of culture after culture across the globe, inspiring writers, artists, musicians and those of us who comprise the audience for their works. Can it be a coincidence that the greatest poets of the western world have each at one point tried their hand at retellings?
Kossman's anthology assembles some of the best of these poems inspired by ancient myths, organizing them by themse, and allowing the reader to compare one against the other - for example, one section assembels poems telling the stories of mythic lovers (Cupid and Psyche, Orpheus and Eurydice); another the many tales of miraculous transformations (Pygmalion and Galatea, Echo and Narcissus). With such a wide variety of the world's best poets to choose from - from all over the world and from any era since classical times - Kossman has had no difficulty creating a literary pantheon; included are D. H. Lawrence, Derek Walcott, Rita Dove, Denise Levertov, Rilke, Pound, and Yeats. The collection should be a treasure for the innumerable debotees of both myth and poetry.