Portal:Mythology

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The Mythology Portal

The term mythology can refer to either the study of myths or a body of myths. For example, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece. The term "myth" is often used colloquially to refer to a false story; however, the academic use of the term generally does not pass judgment on its truth or falsity. In the study of folklore, a myth is a religious narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form. Many scholars in other fields use the term "myth" in somewhat different ways. In a very broad sense, the word can refer to any traditional story.

The main characters in myths are usually gods or supernatural heroes. As sacred stories, myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests and closely linked to religion. In the society in which it is told, a myth is usually regarded as a true account of the remote past. In fact, many societies have two categories of traditional narrative—(1) "true stories", or myths, and (2) "false stories", or fables. Myths generally take place in a primordial age, when the world had not yet achieved its current form. They explain how the world gained its current form and how customs, institutions, and taboos were established.

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Kitsune

Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; kitsune usually refers to them in this context, and are akin to European faeries. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Foxes and human beings lived in close proximity in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as his messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity.

It is widely agreed that many fox myths in Japan can be traced to China, Korea, or India. Chinese folk tales tell of fox spirits (called Huli-jing) that may have up to nine tails, or kumiho as they are known in Korea.

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Io
Artist: Correggio

In Greek mythology, Io was the daughter of Inachus, a river god. This painting by Correggio depicts her abduction by Zeus, who took the form of a cloud so as not to be found out by his jealous wife Hera.

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Chamunda

  • ...that Chamunda (pictured), a fearsome aspect of the Hindu Divine Mother, was worshipped by ritual human and animal sacrifices along with offerings of wine?
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Selected Myth

Trojan Horse

The Trojan War was a war waged, according to legend, against the city of Troy in Asia Minor by the armies of the Achaeans, following the kidnapping (or elopement) of Helen of Sparta by Paris of Troy. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in a cycle of epic poems of which only two, the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer, survive intact. The Iliad describes an episode late in this war, and the Odyssey describes the journey home of one of the Greek leaders, Odysseus. Other parts of the story, and different versions, were elaborated by later Greek poets, and by the Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid.

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Legendary creatures

Shiva as Sharabha

Sharabha (Sanskrit: शरभ, Kannada: ಶರಭ, Śarabha) is a part-lion and part-bird beast in Hindu mythology, who, according to Sanskrit literature, is eight-legged and more powerful than a lion or an elephant, possessing the ability to clear a valley in one jump. In later literature, Sharabha is described as an eight-legged deer. Shaivite scriptures relate that god Shiva assumed the avatar (incarnation) of Sharabha in order to tame Narasimha, the fierce man-lion avatar of Vishnu. This manifestation is popularly known as Sharabeshwara ("Lord Sarabha") or Sharabeshwara-murti. The tale usually ends with the defeat of Narasimha and Vishnu becoming a devotee of Shiva.

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