The Myths Portal
Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives or stories that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods or supernatural humans. Stories of everyday human beings, although often of leaders of some type, are usually contained in legends, as opposed to myths.
Myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests or priestesses, and are closely linked to religion or spirituality. In fact, many societies group their myths, legends and history together, considering myths and legends to be true accounts of their remote past. In particular, creation myths take place in a primordial age when the world had not achieved its later form. Other myths explain how a society's customs, institutions and taboos were established and sanctified. There is a complex relationship between recital of myths and enactment of rituals.
The study of myth began in ancient history. Rival classes of the Greek myths by Euhemerus, Plato and Sallustius were developed by the Neoplatonists and later revived by Renaissance mythographers. Today, the study of myth continues in a wide variety of academic fields, including folklore studies, philology, psychology, and anthropology. The term mythology may either refer to the study of myths in general, or a body of myths regarding a particular subject. The academic comparisons of bodies of myth is known as comparative mythology.
Since the term myth is widely used to imply that a story is not objectively true, the identification of a narrative as a myth can be highly political: many adherents of religions view their religion's stories as true and therefore object to the stories being characterised as myths. Nevertheless, scholars now routinely speak of Christian mythology, Jewish mythology, Islamic mythology, Hindu mythology, and so forth. Traditionally, Western scholarship, with its Judaeo-Christian heritage, has viewed narratives in the Abrahamic religions as being the province of theology rather than mythology; meanwhile, identifying religious stories of colonised cultures, such as stories in Hinduism, as myths enabled Western scholars to imply that they were of lower truth-value than the stories of Christianity. Labelling all religious narratives as myths can be thought of as treating different traditions with parity.
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.
Battle at Lanka, Ramayana by Sahibdin. It depicts monkey army of the protagonist Rama (top left, blue figure) fighting the demon-king of the king of Lanka, Ravana in order to save Rama's kidnapped wife Sita. The painting depicts multiple events in the battle against the three-headed demon general Trisiras, in bottom left - Trisiras is beheaded by the monkey-companion of Rama - Hanuman.
Did you know?
- ... that on every Wednesday and Saturday, the demons of Sri Lanka assemble to give an account of their activities to their king?
- ... that according to Hindu mythology, the "first king" Prithu chased the Earth in the form of a cow (pictured), who eventually agreed to yield her milk as all the world's grain and vegetation?
- ... that in Maya mythology, wayob were the powerful spirit forms of lords, priests and gods?
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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.
In Norse mythology, Fenrir (Old Norse "fen-dweller"), Fenrisúlfr (Old Norse "Fenris wolf"), Hróðvitnir (Old Norse "fame-wolf"), or Vánagandr (Old Norse "the monster of the river Ván") is a monstrous wolf. Fenrir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, Fenrir is the father of the wolves Sköll and Hati Hróðvitnisson, is a son of Loki, and is foretold to kill the god Odin during the events of Ragnarök, but will in turn be killed by Odin's son Víðarr.
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