Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 6, 2013

A Short Bonus Before Heading Bed-Ward…

So, on Wyrd Ways Radio earlier tonight, Galina and Sannion had as their guest Michael Routery, who has a new book out called From the Prow of Myth, which I’ll be reviewing here soon. (But, as a preview of that review: It’s great! Go Get It!)

Toward the end of the show, I was able to call in and ask the assembled dearies a question, which had some very interesting answers before the line cut out and I wasn’t able to listen any further. The question, in short, was: of all the literary works ever produced by polytheistic societies, which one (or two…!)* that we know the title of but is now lost would you wish you could see/read, picked out of the “magical library” where all such books exist. Their answers were great, and some of them I will steal myself as I answer this question below.

I’m restricting myself here to works that we know existed with certainty, rather than theoretical ones that we might wish existed.

Autobiography of Hadrian
–Pancrates/Pachrates’ epic poem on the Lion Hunt of Antinous and Hadrian (we only have one definite fragment, and a few possible others)
Cin Dromma Snechtai (an 8th c. Irish manuscript which at very least contained some of the earliest Irish prose tales and poems, the proto-versions of a few others, and which seems to have had as a potential focus stories involving otherworld travels/encounters)
Liber Subterrenis (an Irish manuscript mentioned once in one recension of Lebor Gabála Érenn that had something to do with the otherworld)
–The actual Gospel of Judas referred to by Irenaeus of Lyon, rather than the one which turned up a few years ago (but that one is still interesting)
–The Old French Lai du Mabon, which is mentioned in the Roman du Silence as being very popular in France

And, while I’m sure I could think of many others as well as these six, they’re the top ones I’d love to see.

[*: Why restrict oneself to only one or two, after all? Why else are people polytheists?–certainly not to play favorites!]


  1. I’m not familiar with names of ancient works as much as I wish I was, but I would love to see all of Sappho’s works together. It’s hard to not be bitter that much of her stuff didn’t survive.😦

    • Indeed!

      And, interestingly, that’s one of the ones that Michael mentioned as one he’d like to have available…I certainly agree.

  2. […] Lots of interesting stuff discussed including regional polytheisms, working with land and other types of spirits, hero cultus, some of the overlap and differences between Greek and Celtic traditions, pop-culture paganism as well as the power of poetry. Plus we got Michael to read three selections from his book From the Prow of Myth and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus even called in with a great question! […]

  3. Such an excellent question, but I don’t think I heard the ‘titled’ part (reception was kind of fuzzy).

    So, I’d add On Nature by Herakleitos, the full Histories of Posidonius and the Sibylline Book for a start.Then there’s all those lost or almost lost plays of Euripides…

    Those lost Irish books are tantalizing.

    • Oh, indeed…I’d forgotten the Posidonius–we treat it like it’s such a “known” thing, but to actually have it in full would be great.

      And, there’s no end of Orphic things that probably existed as well that would be interesting to have (and I’m sure Sannion agrees on that, too!), including a full version of the Derveni Papyrus.

      Oh, and Myrmidons by Aeschylus, also–which likely had some seriously homoerotic, or at least “fully admitting that there was more to their love than friendship” content relating to Achilleus and Patroklos.

  4. Ptolemy I Soter’s memoirs.

    • That would be wonderful, too…

      Was he known to have written any?

  5. If I had to choose two, I’d pick:

    The Gospel of Eve, which is only known content from it are a few quotations by Epiphanius (Panarion, 26), a church father who criticised how the Borborites used it to justify free love, by practicing coitus interruptus and eating semen as a religious act. While certain libertine Gnostics held that, since the flesh is intrinsically evil, one should simply acknowledge it by freely engaging in sexual acts, the majority of the Gnostics took the opposite view of extreme asceticism.


    The Book of the Wars of the Lord, which is only known from a brief reference in Numbers 21:14-16 and from Ibn Ezra who states: “It was an independent book, in which were written the records of the wars waged by the Lord on behalf of those that fear Him and was probably written in the times of Abraham. Many books have been lost and are no longer extant such as the Words of Nathan and Ido, and the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, and the Songs and Proverbs of Solomon”.

    • Interesting! Hadn’t heard of either…

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