Contemporary Mythopoiesis: The Role of Herodotus in Neil Gaiman's American Gods

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This article works with the transmedial case-study of Neil Gaiman's American Gods to explore the ways that classical myth is being utilised in contemporary culture. It argues that Gaiman provides a model for repurposing ancient material without reproducing the traditional hierarchies associated with cultures of storytelling. Classical mythology per se is not given a role in the novel: instead the figure of Herodotus is present throughout in the syndechdocal form of a copy of the Histories. Myth itself is not rejected, but the provincialism of competing claims to religious truth is displaced in favour of a model whereby a living mythology that reflects the pluralism of contemporary America becomes a social force.  The specific characteristics of myth as opposed to literature are central here: authors may lay claim to particularly dominant versions of popular stories and lend their prestige to them: no one owns myth 


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-322
Number of pages23
JournalClassical Receptions Journal
Issue number3
Early online date17 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Structured keywords

  • Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition


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