graphic of budda TROY
Troy Stories Today: Women and Goddesses Bibliography

Atwood, Margaret. The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus. New York: Canongate, 2005. [In this short novel, Atwood retells the story of Odysseus from the points of view of Penelope (the narrator)  and the maids (the chorus) who were hanged at the end of the Odyssey. This is worth reading if you feel dismayed by the vicious killing of the maids after Odysseus destroys the suitors and has the maids scrub the blood from his palace.]  

Bailey, Hillary. Cassandra: Princess of Troy. Great Britain: Jonathan Cape Limited, 1993;  paperback rpt. London: Pan Books, 1995. [Bailey uses late 20th century archaeological findings about Troy and its connections to the Hittite Empire to create an interesting historical context for the story of the Trojan War, told from the point of view of Cassandra.]

Bradley, Marion Zimmer. The Firebrand. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987;  first Pocket Books mass market printing, 1991. [An excellent, well-researched, feminist, solid novel that narrates the war at Troy, focused on Kassandra, princess and priestess of Troy.]

Byers, Richard McCulloch. The Winning of Andromache; Andromache’s Hector and Helenus; Andromache: Beneath the Load of Life. Fairfield House (410-747-6590) [Three self-published novels about Troy.]

Cargill, Linda. To Follow the Goddess. Cheops Books, 977 Seminole Trail, Suite 179, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901. [This rather interesting novel is from Helen's point of view and tells how she really wasn't a bad woman after all. She loved Menelaus, and was seized by Paris against her will and held in Troy, very much against her will, as the incarnation of Inanna, the goddess of fertility. It has a lot of material about the conflict between the ancient Mother Goddess religion and the newer Achaean male god religion.]

Christ, Carol P. Rebirth of the Goddess: Finding Meaning in Feminist Spirituality.  [There are several positive reader responses to this book at]

Doolittle, Hilda (H.D.). Helen in Egypt. 1961. New Directions, 1974. [H.D. tells an alternate story of Helen during the Trojan War. According to this myth, she was never at Troy, but instead spent the years of the war on an island near Egypt. Euripides had written a play, Helen, about this variant, which claimed that the Helen who appeared at Troy was only an imitation, an "eidolon" of Helen, not the woman herself.]

Douglass, Sara. Hades' Daughter. Book One of The Troy Game. ( A Tor Book, 2003). [The first of a four part fantasy series based on the notion of "The Troy Game" being a witchcraft and labyrinth power trip that is played out by Brutus, descendent of Aeneas, among others.]

Dubois, Page. Centaurs and Amazons: Women and the Pre-History of the Great Chain of Being. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1984. Paperback edition, 1991.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War. New York: Henry Holt, 1997.[ Not directly about Troy, but a fascinating book on the role of women in the passion of war, among other things. Especially note the chapter, "When the Predator Had a Woman's Face," which offers an alternative view to the current vision of benign goddess figures. Ehrenreich points out that the early goddess figures were pre-agricultural, from a time when women as well as men would have been involved in hunting and killing, and that goddess religions could be extremely brutal and bloody. Her approach is based on interpretation of modern biological theories as well as recent studies in paleobiology, anthropology, etc. Certainly worth a look.]

Eisler, Riane T. The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future. 1987. Paperback edition, San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1988. [A major feminist representation of the great mother goddess in ancient history.]

Eller, Cynthia. Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995. [A sociologist looks at the goddess revival. Not critical of the feminists, but a pleasant, thoughtful, objective review of the movement.]

Elyot, Amanda. The Memoirs of Helen of Troy. New York: Crown Publishers, 2005. [Helen's perspective on the events before, during and after the Trojan War.]

Franklin, Sarah B. Daughter of Troy: A Novel of History, Valor and Love. New York: Avon Books, 1998. [Author is Dave Duncan, writing under a pseudonym; narrated by Briseis; reconstructed "history" of the times and the war; she had adored Achilles and he is presented as utterly wonderful here.]

Frymer-Kensky, Tikva. In the Wake of the Goddesses. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1992.[ A fascinating study of the ancient Mesopotamian goddesses, how they gradually disappeared from the newly developing Hebrew religious consciousness, and the implications for women in the loss of goddess role models. Highly recommended!]

Gadon, Elinor W. The Once and Future Goddess: A Symbol for Our Times. San Francisco: Harper  Collins, 1989. [A feminist history of the goddess religion; Crete was the ultimate golden goddess age; the West has paid a price for suppressing "the unified worldview of the Goddess culture" (112); chock full of images. ]

George, Margaret. Helen of Troy. New York: Viking, 2006. [A surprisingly interesting and well-written book that I read and enjoyed to the very end (I must confess that many modern Troy novels leave me dutifully turning the pages until I can stand no more). This version of Helen is perceptive, likeable, and believable; she narrates the events of her life in an interesting, lively manner, from her girlhood in Sparta through her marriage to Menelaus, running off with Paris to Troy, life in Troy, the fall of Troy, and returning home with Menelaus (after a stay in Egypt). I found the last part of the book especially poignant as the aging Helen and aging Menelaus evolve from enemies into comrades and finally into death. This Helen is no goddess, although her father is Zeus. Achilles and Agamemnon are the bad guys in this version.]

Gimbutas, Marija. Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, 6500-3500 B.C. : Myths, and Cult Images. [This fascinating book contains many pictures of ancient goddess figures.]

-------. The Language of the Goddess. 1989. Rpt. Foreword by Joseph Campbell. San Francisco: Harper, 1991. [A thoroughly researched, lavishly illustrated study of the pictorial "language" of images of the goddess in ancient times. Gimbutas' work has become very controversial, because she is the main proponent of the One Mother Goddess approach to ancient civilizations. More recently, scholars argue that there were many different goddesses.]

-------. The Living Goddesses. Edited and Supplemented by Miriam Robbins Dexter. University of California Press, 1999. [Gimbutas'  last book, completed by the editor after her death.]

Goodison, Lucy and Christine Morris, Editors. Ancient Goddesses. University of Wisconsin Press, 1999. [A set of essays that argue against the theories of Marija Gimbutas that there was a universal Mother Goddess religion in the Bronze Age and earlier. These authors argue in favor of varied contexts and varied roles for the many different figurines and other objects that have been interpreted by Gimbutas as referring to the Mother Goddess.]

Graves, Robert. Homer's Daughter. N.Y. Doubleday, 1955. Chicago: Academy Chicago Edition, 1982. 3rd printing, 1998. [Narrated by a young Sicilian noblewoman, Nausicaa, who says that she composed the Odyssey from a mixture of an old tale, The Return of Ulysses, and her own experiences. Interesting for its content; rather difficult to read as a novel, because Graves was writing his mythological dictionaries at about this time, and there's an excess of mythic and historical information in the novel.]

-------. The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. 1948. Noonday paperback edition, 1966. Rpt. New York City: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999. [Personally, I find it unreadable, but many who love myth and poetry love this book. It is packed with obscurely presented information about mythic/poetic traditions in the British Isles and their connections with Greece and the Near East. All this information is focused on the ancient threefold white goddess, the moon goddess, and her displacement in western civilization by a patriarchal sky god.]

Gumpert, Matthew. Grafting Helen: The Abduction of the Classical Past. Madison, Wisconsin:  University of Wisconsin Press, 2001. [Here is a link to the BMR Review of the book. It seems rather theoretical, but if you are interested in the uses of Helen since the Bronze Age, you might at least want to read the review.]

Harrison, Jane Ellen. Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion. With a new Introduction by Robert Ackerman. 1903. Mythos series. Princeton U P, 1991. [This is a great book, a century old, beautifully written and awesome in its scholarship and scholarly zeal. Harrison analyzes ancient Greek (and Roman) texts and art with grace and clarity to explain (among other things) her theory of the underlying ancient matriarchal religion that lurks beneath the male-dominated Olympian religion we are familiar with. This book is a major link in the chain of later 20th century thinking about goddesses and their displacement by the Olympian gods.] 

Hughes, Bettany. Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. [If you want to know all about Helen, from the Bronze Age down to the present, and if you enjoy lively, elegant writing, this is a splendid book to read and enjoy. It is not perhaps as precisely scholarly as some, but it is comprehensive, witty, thoroughly documented, and investigates Helen from every angle, from her putative roots as a Bronze Age Goddess on down to her later role as the despised and adored sex-goddess who led/lured men to their doom at Troy. There are a number of great images of Helen through the ages included in the book. Hughes has not only read all of the relevant texts, but she has traveled in the footsteps of Helen and tells us of the sights and feel of the world that Helen may have once lived in.]

Komar, Kathleen L. Reclaiming Klytemnestra: Revenge or Reconciliation. U of Illinois P, 2003. [This is an excellent study of the importance of the character of Clytemnestra to feminist authors, especially in the 1980s. Feminists of that time were looking to the past for strong woman role models, before some mythic time when women lost their power. The issue was not so much approving of Clytemnestra as trying to understand a powerful ancient woman. Komar's study is objective and balanced. Interestingly, in the 1990s, feminist authors turned more to stories of Iphigenia and Electra, the children of Clytemnestra.]

Le Guin, Ursula. Lavinia: A Novel. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2008. [This is the story of the Aeneid as told by Lavinia, the woman Aeneas marries in Italy. She has almost no role in the Aeneid, and here she tells her own story of how she grew up in rural Italy, daughter of King Latinus and her crazy mother Amata who tried desperately to force her to marry Turnus. Then she tells us about the wars in Italy (as told in the Aeneid) and about her marriage to Aeneas. The last part goes beyond that marriage to her three years of living with Aeneas, his death, and her life after that raising their son Silvius. The book is suitable for young adults or adults and like other women's retelling of Trojan stories adds the voices of women to their ancient silence.]

McCullough, Colleen. The Song of Troy: A Story that Will Outlast History. Orion Fiction, 1998. [A serious, if pedestrian, retelling of the Troy cycle, starting with the rape of Hesione. Each of the main characters in the Trojan War narrates a portion of the events. McCullough has done her Troy homework. She even uses information from the recent Troy excavations to describe it as a huge city, not just a citadel. The clear, orderly narrative helps one to  understand the issues and process of the war.]

McLaren, Clemence. Inside the Walls of Troy : A Novel of the Women Who Lived the Trojan War. Laurel-Leaf Books, 1996. [A narrative of the events at Troy, told by Helen and Cassandra. Another retelling of the Troy story from the women's point of view; for young adults; many enthusiastic reader reviews of this book on]

McLaughlin, Ellen. The Greek Plays. Theatre Communications Group, 2005). [This collection includes McLaughlin's feminist Iphigenia and Other Daughters, a trilogy consisting of Iphigenia in Aulis, Electra and Iphigenia in Tauris. The plays are loosely adapted from the ancient Greek plays of the same names by Euripides and Sophocles. McLaughlin uses ancient Trojan themes to deal with contemporary ideas about war and the roles of women. Her Clytemnestra is especially interesting and heroic, not evil.]

Molinaro, Ursule. The Autobiography of Cassandra, Princess and Prophetess of Troy. 1979. Rpt. 1992. [This brief, interesting retake on the Troy story expresses the classic 1970s feminist line with a sharp, minimalist narrative of the events. The core of Cassandra's story is that when she rejected Apollo, he spat in her mouth, so that no one would believe her. This Trojan moment was the turning point in the shift from female independence to female servitude. She is narrating the story after being dead for 3,000 years, so she has a modern perspective and explains that Homer wrote "five centuries after the fall, when knowledge had become unbecoming, for a woman....Poor Helen. Legend has made of her the sample type of the new woman that came about with male supremacy. Placidly beautiful, without a mind of her own."] 

Neumann, Erich. The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype. 1955. Bollingen Series XLVII. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Second Edition, 1963. First Bollingen Paperback Edition, 1972. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974. [Neumann locates the Great Mother within human consciousness as an Archetype, and studies her manifestations in human culture from ancient times to the present. He examines all the various fertility goddess statues etc. as coming from the human unconscious, not as manifestations of a "real" god. Serious, well-documented, Jungian, hypothetical.]

Page, Jake and David Adams Leeming. Goddess: Myths of the Female Divine. Oxford paperback. A scholarly approach.

Passman, Tina. "Out of the Closet and into the Field: Matriculture, the Lesbian Perspective, and Feminist Classics." Chapter 8 in Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz and Amy Richlin, eds. Feminist Theory and the Classics. New York: Routledge, 1993. [Passman gives a scholarly and thorough overview of how feminists have offered an alternate, woman-centered way of considering the classics, especially the displacement of the ancient goddesses by the male Olympians. She focuses on the studies of Jane Harrison (see above) on this topic.] 

Pomeroy, SarahSpartan Women. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. [Sparta was remarkably different from Athens in many ways, perhaps mostl in the roles of women, who were raised to be athletic and educated, could hold and inherit property, and in general were valued as human beings. Helen, of course, was Spartan, and some of her negative qualities (such as running off with Paris and causing the Trojan War) may well have come from Athenian men viewing the freedom of Spartan women with horror.]

Seymour, Miranda. Goddess. New York: Coward, McCann & Geohegan, Inc., 1979. [An enjoyable romance novel about Helen of Troy, her life and loves. The background is well-researched, and the struggle between the old goddess religion and the newer sky-god religion plays out along with Menelaus' insensitive relationship with Helen and her infatuation for Paris. Helen is an interesting, well-developed character, plagued by beauty; she recalls Marilyn Monroe, perhaps, as much as a Bronze Age priestess of the goddess religion.] 

Spencer, Aida Besancon. The Goddess Revival. [This book covers the modern reawakening of interest in the goddess religions, offering an alternative Christian feminist interpretation.]

Stone, Merlin. When God Was a Woman. 1976. Rpt. N.Y.: Harcourt Brace, n.d. [One of the earlier and most influential books of the feminist Mother Goddess movement; Stone looks at the ancient goddess religions and how they were suppressed. This was a radical book in its day (the 1970s). Merlin Stone was an art historian who began to wonder why there were so many artifacts of the ancient goddesses, but very little was known about them. She tells the story of the ancient goddess religion in this book. It is perhaps more enthusiastic than up to modern scholarly standards, but great fun to read.]

Tepper, Sheri S. The Gate to Women's Country. 1988. Rpt. New York: Bantam Spectra Book, 1989. [A future civilization; women in walled cities; warrior men outside. Uses a play, "Iphigenia at Ilium," as a central device; reminiscent in part of The Trojan Women, but it includes the ghosts of Iphigenia, Polyxena, Achilles, Astyanax. Point: there's no use for a dead woman, Achilles. e.g. masculine control and violence kills women instead of achieving its aim of controlling them.]

Tyrell, William Black. Amazons: a Study in Athenian Myth-Making. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1984. Reprint: 1989.

Wolf, Christa. Cassandra: A Novel and Four Essays. 1984. 1st Farrar, Straus and Giroux paperback edition, 1988. [An East German feminist retells the story of Troy from Cassandra's point of view, focused on patriarchy, corruption and war.]

Last Updated: 2/15/2013

© Thompson: 9/22/1998