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H. J. Rose

H. J. Rose
Herbert Jennings Rose

5 May 1883
Orillia, Ontario, Canada
Died31 July 1961 (aged 78)
St Andrews, Scotland
Alma materMcGill University
Balliol College, Oxford
  • Scholar
  • author
  • lecturer
  • tutor

Herbert Jennings Rose FBA (5 May 1883, in Orillia – 31 July 1961, in St Andrews) was a Canadian-born British classical scholar, best remembered as the author of A Handbook of Greek Mythology, originally published in 1928, which became for many years the standard student reference book on the subject, reaching a sixth edition by 1958. Rose's Handbook was brought up-to-date along the same framework by Robin Hard, in The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology (Routledge 2004), a project that began as a mere revision.

Early life

Rose was born in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, to a family of Scottish descent. He attended McGill University, where he was awarded a Rhodes scholarship, with which he went on to Balliol College, Oxford. He was said to be the first Oxford undergraduate to wear a soft hat on Sundays. He drew a chess game on Board 1 with the famous J R Capablanca in a cable match between American and English universities on 23 March 1907.[1]

For four years he was a fellow and tutor of Exeter College. In 1911 he married Eliza Plimsoll, elder daughter of Samuel Plimsoll, the British social reformer who advocated improved safety standards at sea.

From 1919 - 1927 Rose was Professor of Latin at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and from 1927 - 1953 he was Professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews. Also during this time in 1934 he became a fellow of the British Academy.


Rose is best remembered as the author of A Handbook of Greek Mythology, 1928. This was his most successful work and is still widely used as a student reference book.

Upon his death it was written in the Glasgow Herald:

"The Scottish Universities have lost one of their most learned personalities by the death of Emeritus Professor H. J. Rose . . . as a lecturer he was much liked by both learned and popular audiences, while as teacher and colleague he was greatly beloved by generations of pupils and colleagues".


  • Modern Methods in Classical Mythology (St. Andrews, 1930)
  • A Handbook of Greek Literature from Homer to Lucian (1934)
  • Hygini Fabulae (1934)
  • A Handbook of Latin Literature (1954)
  • Primitive Culture in Greece (London, 1925)
  • Primitive Culture in Italy (London, 1926; reprint 1971)
  • A Handbook of Greek Mythology (1929; sixth reprint 1958)
  • Ancient Greek Religion (London, 1948)
  • Ancient Roman Religion (London, 1949)
  • Gods and Heroes of the Greeks (London, 1957; many reprints)
  • A Commentary on the Surviving Plays of Aeschylus, 1957–8
  • Outline of Classical Literature for Students of English (London, 1959; reprint 1961)
  • Mythology and Pseudo-mythology (1935, doi:10.1080/0015587X.1935.9718582), an influential paper, printed as a Presidential Address[2]


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H. J. Rose
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