Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Tag: mythology

563: The Star-Crossed Stone by Kenneth McNamara


563.95: McNamara, Kenneth J. The Star-Crossed Stone: The Secret Life, Myths, and History of a Fascinating Fossil. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011. 2312 pp. ISBN 978-0-226-51469-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 560: Paleontology and paleozoology
  • 563: Miscellaneous fossil marine and seashore invertebrates
  • 563.9: Echinodermata and Hemichordata
  • 563.95: Echinozoa

In March 1887, a grave was discovered in England. It was an old grave, the interred had been there for thousands of years. But the two occupants weren’t the only creatures there: they had been buried with hundreds of fossilized sea urchins. Historians and archaeologists were puzzled. Why were these fossils buried with the ancient humans? What was their significance? Kenneth McNamara’s The Star-Crossed Stone looks into the discovery, history, and folklore surrounding fossil urchins.

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590: The Search for the Last Undiscovered Animals by Karl P. N. Shuker


590: Shuker, Karl P. N. The Search for the Last Undiscovered Animals: The Beasts That Hide From Man. New York: Fall River Press, 2007. 294 pp. ISBN 978-1-4351-0131-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 590: Zoological sciences

Karl P. N. Shuker is a scientist, but also a little bit of a nut. Whereas mainstream science is concerned with exploring and finding new animals in a blind, happenstance manner, Shuker starts with the position that folklore and cultural tales about “monsters” are based in fact and these creatures can be found in the wild. In The Search for the Last Undiscovered Animals, he recounts his travels around the world, looking for the animals that have pervaded ancient texts and modern fears.

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873: The Metamorphoses of Ovid


873.01: Ovid. The Metamorphoses of Ovid. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum. San Diego, CA: Harvest, 1993. 559 pp. ISBN 0-15-170529-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 870: Latin and Italic literatures
  • 873: Latin epic poetry and fiction
  • 873.01: Latin fiction of the Roman period

To fully investigate the entirety of Greek and Roman mythology  would take a lifetime. Luckily, Ovid did all the heavy lifting two thousand years ago. Every mythological figure you can think of is in here—from Jupiter to Perseus to Jason to Pygmalion to Romulus. Ovid’s history start at the creation of the universe and goes up to the Caesars of Rome and paints the chronology as a series of changes. In fact, the first lines have the poet saying “My soul would sing of metamorphoses.” Also playing a heavy part is the role of the love god Amor, who is constantly affecting the course of history.

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398: The Rotinonshonni by Brian Rice


398.20899755: Rice, Brian. The Rotinonshonni: A Traditional Iroquoian History Through the Eyes of Teharonhia:wako and Sawiskera. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2013. 310 pp. ISBN 978-0-8156-1021-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 390: Customs, etiquette, and folklore
  • 398: Folklore
  • 398.2: Folk literature
  • 398.208: Groups of people
  • 398.2089: Ethnic and national groups
  • 398.208997: Indians of North America
  • 398.20899755: Iroquois Indians

The Iroquois, or “the People of the Longhouse” and comprise the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Tuscarora nations. In Canada, they live near Brantford, Ontario and are known as the Rotinonshonni. Brian Rice’s The Rotinonshonni  is a vast undertaking—to collect, understand, and translate the complete folklore of a people and preserve it for the ages. As a member of Mohawk nation, he has spent the last fifteen years traveling to their historic sites, listening to elders tell the Creation Story and the Kayeneren:howa (“The Great Way of Peace”), the days-long recitation of the history of the Rotinonshonni.

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829: Beowulf

829.3: Beowulf. Translated by Seamus Heaney. London: Faber and Faber, 1999. 99 pp. ISBN 0-571-20342-6.

British literature makes up the 820s in the Dewey, but most of it is reserved for literature written in Modern English. When you encounter literature originally written in Old English (or Old Anglo-Saxon), then it goes into 829. Since there’s not really many works from that age, each poet or author gets their own special billing. Works on Beowulf or by the Beowulf poet (nobody knows the poet’s name) have exclusive rights to 829.3.


This book is a translation of the 3,000 line poem written sometime between the seventh and tenth century CE. The author does not have a name as often referred to as “the Beowulf poet”. There have been numerous translations. I’m pretty sure that if you’re an Old English scholar, you have to produce a translation as a rite of passage.

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