Questions tagged [myths]

For questions about the literary aspects of myths and legends.

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5 votes
0 answers
114 views

In The Master and Margarita, who is Koroviev and what is the nature of his sin?

This question involves minor spoilers for The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. Koroviev is one of Woland's entourage, and ostensibly serves as his translator. However, unlike the other characters ...
9 votes
3 answers
750 views

Who is the 'pale Titan-woman' in Swinburne's 'Ave atque Vale'?

For those fond of intertextual references, 'Ave atque Vale' by Algernon Charles Swinburne, an English poet's lament for the French poet Charles Baudelaire, is something of a goldmine, being absolutely ...
6 votes
0 answers
99 views

Who or what is 'our God' in Swinburne's 'Ave atque Vale'?

The following is a bonus question to "Who is the 'pale Titan-woman' in Swinburne's 'Ave atque Vale'?", which I was advised to separate into its own question. The twelfth verse of 'Ave atque ...
3 votes
1 answer
136 views

Unabridged version of the Alexander Romance

It would appear that there is a myriad of different versions of the Alexander Romance, varying by period and geography. For my purposes, an English translation of the Greek account will be sufficient. ...
6 votes
1 answer
4k views

What is the symbolism of the Western Wind (or Zephyr)?

I was reading some poetry and I stumbled upon the four-line 'Western Wind' by Anonymous, written in the 16th century: Western wind when wilt thou blow the small rain down can rain Christ if my ...
9 votes
1 answer
317 views

In Homer's Odyssey, how can the one-eyed Cyclops have multiple brows?

When Odysseus meets the Cyclops, the text never explicitly states that he has only a single eye. However, the unfolding action in which Odysseus and his crew blind the Cyclops by pushing a stake into ...
3 votes
1 answer
174 views

What is the "black sphinx" in Greek magical papyrus IV?

In the Greek magical papyri (Papyri Graecae Magicae or PGM), lines 2307–2314 of papyrus IV were translated into English by Hans Dieter Betz as follows: The hair of a virgin cow, the seed of Pan Fire ...
3 votes
2 answers
360 views

Who is the protagonist and antagonist in the myth of Creation of Seasons by Dene?

I am a high school student who has to do a presentation on a myth. I have to explain the details of the myth such as the plot, conflict etc. It is very straightforward. Here is the myth. There are 2 &...
4 votes
0 answers
62 views

Symbolism in the final lines of Yeats' Song of Wandering Aengus

Yeats' early poem The Song of Wandering Aengus is a poetic retelling of a famous Irish myth as I explored in this question. It's also a metaphor in which Aengus' quest for his fae lover is compared to ...
4 votes
0 answers
118 views

Name for a fictional or mythological character who doesn't suffer personally, but whose family and friends all do?

I feel like this must be a character archetype or mythological figure, but can't find any references to it. In my mind, it's something like Cassandra knowing the future but not being believed; this ...
3 votes
0 answers
60 views

Is there specific mythological significance to the Dingli Cliffs?

The poem "Cliffs" ("Irdumijiet") is part of a collection available online by the Maltese-Canadian writer, poet, and academic professor John P. Portelli. Written in 1973, and found ...
4 votes
1 answer
121 views

In Mary Tighe's Psyche, what is the gemstone referred to by allusion?

In Mary Tighe's "Psyche", Canto 1, lines 413 - 414 (see the text), a gemstone is referred to by allusion to an episode in mythology. To quote, And there the gem which bears his luckless ...
6 votes
1 answer
162 views

What does it mean for Venus to 'read my case' in Drummond of Hawthornden's madrigal?

I came across a madrigal by William Drummond of Hawthornden (laird of the same) yesterday. It's an astonishingly beautiful poem, but I'm having trouble making sense of some of the phrases and ...
14 votes
1 answer
911 views

How and why did the story of King Cnut change?

The 11th-century king Cnut/Knut/Canute of Denmark, Norway, and England is today best known for the story of how he sat on the beach commanding the waves to turn back. The original account of this ...
1 vote
0 answers
66 views

Is there a complete anthology of the Fenian Cycle?

Is there a book that contains English translations of all the prose and poetry in the Fenian Cycle?
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Are Endymion and Hyperion by John Keats intended to be related pieces?

Hyperion and Endymion are poems by the famous poet John Keats, both based on Greek mythology. Hyperion talks about the Titan's despairing after their defeat by the Olympians, and was written in 1818-...
8 votes
2 answers
337 views

How did Edith Hamilton become interested in transcribing her famous Greek myths?

Edith Hamilton is probably the most famous modern-day writer of Greek myths, but how did she become interested in transcribing these myths?
2 votes
1 answer
711 views

Who is Gugalanna?

In this question I originally used the name Gugalanna for the Heaven-Bull slain by Gilgamesh and Enkidu, following Wikipedia. After a query in comments, I edited the question since the name Gugalanna ...
2 votes
2 answers
110 views

Children raised out of human society - ancient stories

I am interested in the theme of human children raised out of human society (e.g. Mowgli or Romulus and Remus), whether by animals, gods, flowers, aliens, etc. What is the oldest story where such a ...
3 votes
0 answers
61 views

English standard of the (Prose) Edda?

Gustav Schwab‘s Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece (OT: Die schönsten klassischen Sagen des Altertums) is at least to the German audience the encyclopaedia of Roman and Greek mythology (despite its ...
7 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why does Ishtar insist on being called "Ishtar"?

There are many characters in Gaiman's Sandman stories that have multiple names; Morpheus is one of them. For the most part, they usually don't mind if someone calls them by one name or another. The ...
9 votes
1 answer
276 views

What are the other (aside from the Iliad) classical sources for the saga of Troy?

I recently read the Iliad, and I was surprised by how many of the events surrounding the fall of Troy that I had heard about here and there were left out. What are the oldest extant sources for the ...
16 votes
2 answers
4k views

Did Homer base the Iliad and the Odyssey on mythology?

Homer's two epic poems follow the story of the Trojan War through various perspectives. Did Homer make up the stories, or was there some kind of historical/mythological predecessor that he retold (or ...
8 votes
1 answer
392 views

Are there significant differences across the Nordic countries in the traditional portrayal of trolls?

Trolls are a common feature of Scandinavian folklore - and possibly also of those of the wider Nordic region, Finland and Iceland as well as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, although I'm not sure about ...
6 votes
1 answer
342 views

Major differences between Norse epic poetry and English epic poetry

I'm reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún and the commentary talks a little bit about differences between Old Norse and Old English epic poetry: But Old English verse does not ...
9 votes
1 answer
770 views

How much of The Song of Wandering Aengus by Yeats is based on Irish folklore?

Yeats was a keen student of Irish folklore and it is clear that the titular character in his poem The Song of Wandering Aengus is based on the pre-Christian Celtic god of love, youth and poetry. ...
8 votes
2 answers
155 views

What does it mean that different parts of humans are created by different gods?

While looking at Norse Mythology to write this question, I read a passage of the book more closely than I had before, and noticed something interesting. When humans are created, the brothers Odin, ...
8 votes
1 answer
839 views

Are man and woman like ash and elm? How?

In Neil Gaiman's adaptation of the Norse myths, Norse Mythology, it is sometimes clear that certain elements are used in the stories as a way for the Norse people to transmit useful information and ...
8 votes
1 answer
359 views

How do the Silmarils solve the puzzle of the Sampo?

It is well established that Tolkien used his fiction as a means of filling gaps and solving riddles in the extant studies of mythology and linguistics. Most of the time, he chose to do this by ...