The primary religion in Japan is called Shinto, and the Shinto religion’s gods and spirits are the main characters in Japanese mythology. We know most of these stories because in A.D. 711, a Japanese empress ordered her servant, Ono Yasumoro, to write these tales in a collection called the Kojiki, or Record of Ancient Matters. […]
Who Was Osiris the God of the Afterlife, the Underworld, and the Dead According To Egyptian Mythology?
A handsome god with jet-black hair, Osiris was Egypt’s first leader, a role he shared with his sister and wife, Isis. Osiris was a kind and wise king. He taught people how to raise crops and many other secrets of civilization. All of Egypt enjoyed his rule. But Osiris was locked in a struggle with […]
Osiris left Egypt to teach men and women throughout the world the secrets of farming and civilization. While he was gone, his faithful wife Isis ruled in his place. When Osiris at last returned, Seth invited him to a grand banquet. During the celebration, Seth displayed a magnificent chest covered with decorations. Seth told his […]
According to legend, the city of Rome was founded in 753 B.C. Through the next several centuries, the Romans expanded their power by conquering neighboring cities and territories. By the second century A.D., the Romans had created one of the greatest empires the world had ever seen, stretching from Egypt to the hills of Scotland. […]
Records of Chinese mythology can be traced back to 2000 B.C., though the stories were told long before then. The myths and legends were passed down in oral form over thousand of years, before being written in books such as Shan Hai Jing. The Chinese worshipped a number of different gods in the form of […]
Devastated by her husband’s death, Isis frantically began searching for his body. She learned from farmers and sailors that the chest had floated out to the Mediterranean Sea and had come ashore in present day Lebanon. There, a tree had grown around it, enfolding the chest within its roots and bark. A king had noticed […]
The son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Herakles, also known as Hercules, was the strongest man in ancient Greece. The goddess Hera, always jealous of Zeus’s love affairs, learned about the child and sent two giant snakes to kill him as he lay in his crib at night. When the snakes appeared, Herakies grasped […]
Ith was a man who lived in a giant tower in Spain. From the top of the tower, he could glimpse the distant shores of Ireland. Curious about the strange land, he assembled ninety followers and set sail for the island. He arrived just after the Tuatha De Danann had defeated the Fomorians. Believing that […]
In Aztec mythology, the gods decided to make people after the world was created. The other gods ordered Quetzalcoatl to journey to the underworld, Mictlan, and retrieve the bones of people who were turned into fish. But Mictlan was ruled by the crafty Mictlantecuhtli, who promised the bones to Quetzalcoatl, but only if he could […]
Compared to the mythology created by the rich imagination of the Greeks, the Roman myths can appear dull. The Romans themselves recognized this. After conquering Greece in 133 B.C., the Romans adopted many of the Greek gods and their stories and changed the Greek names into Roman ones. For example, Poseidon, the Greek god of […]
African myths often describe a small and weak character defeating a stronger opponent through cunning and trickery. This mythological figure is called “the trickster.” Tricksters are popular characters in many world mythologies, including Norse (Loki) and North American Indian (Coyote). African American folklore tells the antics of “Brer Rabbit,” a small rabbit who outsmarts larger […]
Except for the gods, no one played music as skillfully or beautifully as Orpheus. His singing made the trees bend closer and the stones gather around to listen. Orpheus fell in love with Eurydice, a nymph he wooed with his songs. But on the day of their wedding, Eurydice was bit by a poisonous snake […]
While Cuchulainn studied with Scathach in the Land of Shadows, he seduced her sister, Aoife. When Cuchulainn left Aoife, he gave her a gold ring, unaware that she was also pregnant with his son. Aoife named her son Conlai, and she raised him alone, teaching him to expertly wield the sword and spear. Years later, […]
Mesopotamia existed between two mighty rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, in the part of the world we now call the Middle East. This region is called the “cradle of civilization” because it was one of the first places in which humans farmed, raised animals, developed a written language, and created a calendar. The word […]
The Berserkers were warriors inspired to madness by Odin’s sorcery. They charged into battle without armor, heedless of pain or danger. Given extraordinary strength by their madness, they savagely attacked their opponents in the frenzy of combat. We still use the expression “They went berserk” to describe people who lose control in rage and anger. […]
When Adonis was born, he was so beautiful that Aphrodite herself felt the sting of love for him. Determined to keep Adonis for herself, Aphrodite gave the young boy to Persephone to raise away from the world. But Persephone also fell in love with Adonis, and she refused Aphrodite’s demands for his return. To make […]
Jason and his comrades, called the Argonauts, built a mighty ship, the Argo, to carry them safely through the long journey. They sailed through many adventures before arriving in Colchis and appearing before King Aeetes. King Aeetes despised Greeks, and he told Jason that he would slaughter all of them. Calmly, Jason told the king […]
When Okuninushi arrived in Susano’s palace, he immediately fell in love with Susano’s daughter, Suseri Hime. After only a few days, Okuninushi convinced her to marry him, and together they told the news to Susano. Susano was outraged at how quickly the two lovers had reached their decision. Instead of displaying his anger, however, Susano […]
The Titan Prometheus fashioned the first men out of clay and water. Prometheus allowed his brother Epimetheus to give qualities to animals and man. Dull and stupid, Epimetheus gave speed, strength, courage, and many other characteristics to the animals and left nothing to man. Prometheus was very upset, and he gave mankind one redeeming quality, […]
Horus, son of Isis and Osiris, was from his birth destined to avenge his father’s murder. Nurtured and protected by Isis, Horus grew into a strong warrior with a falcon’s head and a man’s body. Seth learned of Horus’s existence, and he searched the Nile delta to kill him. Seth did not find Horus, but […]
Niflheim was a dark, frozen, fog filled land that was home to all humans who died of disease or old age. A hideous dragon called Nidhogg survived in Niflheim by eating the flesh of human corpses. Nidhogg also gnawed at Yggdrasill’s main root, hoping to bring the tree and the entire world crashing down. As […]
Who Was Sir Lancelot and How Did Mordred Expose Lancelot’s Affair With King Arthur’s Queen Guinevere?
Sir Lancelot was the most handsome, skilled, and bravest of the Knights of the Round Table. Serving faithfully by Arthur’s side, Lancelot protected his king from harm. But Lancelot had one deadly fault, he fell in love with Arthur’s queen, Guinevere. The two became lovers and despite their secrecy, Arthur’s other knights suspected treachery. To […]
Idun was the goddess of spring and protector of a magical tree filled with golden apples that restored youth to whoever ate them. Every year, Idun picked the apples and carried them to Asgard, where the gods feasted on them and thus stayed young forever. Other creatures eagerly sought the magical apples. Once, a giant […]
Who Were the Valkyries In Norse Mythology and Which Warriors Saw the Valkyries Before Dying In Combat?
The Valkyries were female demigoddesses in Norse mythology who roamed over bloody battlefields in search of brave warriors. A demigod or demigoddess was stronger than a mortal but not as powerful as god. When they found a truly brave warrior, the Valkyries would take them to Odin, who welcomed him into paradise at Valhalla. The […]
The Fianna were a hardy band of warriors in Irish mythology who swore to protect the king of Ireland. To join the Fianna, a man stood in a hole up to his waist, armed only with his shield and a stick. Nine warriors circled around him and threw spears. If the man warded off the […]
When the Indian warrior Glooskap walked through the world, all things bowed with respect. He had spent months fighting and defeating both animals and men in combat. Even the spirits dared not challenge his strength. When he had satisfied his quest for glory, Glooskap returned home. But his wife hardly noticed him when he strode […]
On a road outside the city of Thebes, the Sphinx sat on a rock and watched for travelers, who she challenged with this riddle. “What has four legs in the morning, two legs at midday, and three legs in the evening?” The correct answer is: a person. A person crawls on all fours as a […]
Heroes thrill us with their daring, strength, and courage. They also teach and inspire us to accomplish what others consider impossible. Cultures around the world tell of the exploits of heroes. The Greeks shared stories of Herakles, Theseus, and Jason. The Babylonians idolized Gilgamesh. In India, the hero Rama battled and defeated forces of evil.
How Did the Sword In the Stone Help Decide Who the Next King of England Would Be In the Arthurian Legend?
After the death of King Uther, his knights argued among themselves over who should be the next king. Finally, the great wizard, Merlin, ordered the nobles and knights to gather in London. When they had all crowded into London’s main cathedral, Merlin revealed a mysterious stone with a sword embedded into it. Chiseled into the […]
What Was the Trojan Horse In Greek Mythology and How Did Odysseus Use the Trojan Horse To Defeat Troy?
By the time of Achilles’ death, the Trojan War had lasted more than ten years, and the weary Greeks were eager to go home. The Greek warrior Odysseus devised one last scheme to enter and defeat Troy. As a trick, the Greeks boarded their ships and sailed away, leaving a giant wooden horse on the […]
The Egyptians believed that the pharaoh was the descendant of Ra and that he became Horus when he ruled over Egypt. In this way, the pharaoh was considered a god while still on earth. The title of Pharaoh started being used for the king during the New Kingdom during the middle of the eighteenth dynasty. […]
In Norse Mythology, the gods took blazing sparks from Muspell and set them into the sky to fashion the stars. To give the world light and warmth, they created a girl called Sun and a boy called Moon and set them in their paths across the heavens. Both Sun and Moon had to travel quickly, […]
The Fir Bolg were a legendary race of people who lived in Ireland. Originally, they labored as slaves in a land near Greece. The Fir Bolg hauled bags of earth over their shoulders to cover rocky areas and make it suitable for farming, hence their name, which means “bag men”. After years of abuse, the […]
How Was Rome Founded According To Roman Mythology and Why Were Romulus and Remus Abandoned By Amulius?
Two great myths explain the founding of ancient Rome. The first myth explains how Aeneas founded the Roman civilization. Aeneas, the greatest of Roman heroes, originally fought the Greeks at the city of Troy. When the Greeks ravaged Troy, Aeneas was guided by his mother, the goddess Venus, and escaped with a small band of […]
Brynhild was a Valkyrie who disobeyed Odin’s orders. As punishment, he condemned her to endless sleep in a bed surrounded by a ring of fire. Only the bravest warrior could pass through the ring and wake her. Sigurd saw the blazing ring from a distant hill and rode his horse unharmed through the flames. The […]
How Did Celtic Mythology Survive the Roman Empire and How Were Their Stories Preserved By Christian Monks?
From 100 B.C. to A.D. 100, many of the Celtic tribes in Europe were conquered by Roman armies and became a part of the Roman Empire. Most of their myths are lost. However, other parts of the Celtic world, Ireland, Scotland, and parts of England, escaped Roman control. Their stories survived because Christian monks wrote […]