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

This is not meant to be definitive nor exhaustive, but merely an exploration of certain themes and symbols in the poem: Yeats is widely regarded as one of the great poets of the ages--Eliot ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
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10 votes

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

We can trace out some possible answers to this by examining the history of her life. Her father encouraged her interest in the classics from an early age. "My father was well-to-do, but he wasn'...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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9 votes
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In Homer's Odyssey, how can the one-eyed Cyclops have multiple brows?

This issue has been puzzling commentators for thousands of years, if we take it broadly as "how many eyes did Homer think Polyphemus had, and why?" The Greek text of Odyssey 9.389 uses the ...
alexg's user avatar
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9 votes
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Major differences between Norse epic poetry and English epic poetry

First, I'd like to note that my knowledge on English verse is not as good as of Norse. Thus I will start with a description of Norse verse, and then try to compare with what I know of English verse. ...
andejons's user avatar
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8 votes
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Are there significant differences across the Nordic countries in the traditional portrayal of trolls?

There are great variations of how trolls are portrayed, but it is not primarily a matter of national literature. I will be focusing on Sweden and Norway, where I know the traditions best. First, we ...
andejons's user avatar
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7 votes
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Who is the 'pale Titan-woman' in Swinburne's 'Ave atque Vale'?

The general interpretation of this line is that it's an allusion to Baudelaire's poem La Géante (The Giantess). From Walter Martin's translation in an omnibus edition: When Mother Nature filled the ...
CDR's user avatar
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7 votes
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Are Endymion and Hyperion by John Keats intended to be related pieces?

No. In fact, each poem has a closer relative within the corpus of Keats's work. There's also a stronger connection between "Endymion" and one of Shelley's poems that there is between the ...
verbose's user avatar
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7 votes

Are man and woman like ash and elm? How?

I will start with question 3, as it is the most straightforward. Gaiman has done a whole lot of elaboration on a passage that is in fact rather short. I will quote the relevant passages from the ...
andejons's user avatar
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6 votes
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How and why did the story of King Cnut change?

Summary The post says, “The original account … uses it to illustrate Cnut’s humility.” But note that Henry of Huntingdon only wrote that Cnut was humble afterwards, not that he intended this ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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5 votes
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In Mary Tighe's Psyche, what is the gemstone referred to by allusion?

A figure in Greco-Roman mythology whose death was mourned by Phoebus/Apollo? That reminds me of Hyacinth: One day, Apollo was teaching him the game of quoit. They decided to have a friendly ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes

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

Swinburne’s ‘Ave atque Value’ (1868) is subtitled “In Memory of Charles Baudelaire”, who died in 1867. The poem contains allusions to a number of Baudelaire’s poems, and when looking for a “pale Titan-...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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5 votes
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What is the "black sphinx" in Greek magical papyrus IV?

The word σφίγξ was used not only for the mythological Sphinx, but also for a kind of monkey or ape. This animal is mentioned in a few ancient authors, but not with enough detail to identify the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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5 votes
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What is the symbolism of the Western Wind (or Zephyr)?

In Greek mythology, Zephyr (or Zephyrus or Zephros) was the personification of the west wind. The west wind was the bringer of spring and early summer. He also served Cupid (because he fell in love ...
auden's user avatar
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5 votes

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

Collectively, the stories are called the Epic Cycle. They tell the whole story of the Trojan War, from the Judgment of Paris to the death of Odysseus. It includes the Iliad and the Odyssey (though the ...
Joshua Engel's user avatar
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5 votes

Why does Ishtar insist on being called "Ishtar"?

I think @Shokhet is probably correct in that it's likely a form of teasing/light antagonism, but, on further reflection, it probably goes deeper than that. It is an older, less known name for Ishtar....
DukeZhou's user avatar
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4 votes
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How do the Silmarils solve the puzzle of the Sampo?

I believe Shippey meant that this may have been Tolkien's goal at the beginning, but like Tolkien's other "solutions" he seems to have abandoned it as the story grew in the telling. Tolkien's conceit ...
Joshua Engel's user avatar
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4 votes

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

The primary sources Let us start with what the sources actually say they were given, and by whom. First, from Völuspá: Mind they not own, reflection they had not, no vision nor cover or colour ...
andejons's user avatar
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3 votes
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Who or what is 'our God' in Swinburne's 'Ave atque Vale'?

Jerome McGann offers the following interpretation of this line: Swinburne describes his active and passive relation to the noble dead when he speaks of the “opening leaves of holy poets’ pages.” They ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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3 votes
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Unabridged version of the Alexander Romance

Difficulties in the question There are a couple of points in the question where I suspect that it is misinterpreting the Wikipedia article on the Alexander Romance. The question says, “Looking into ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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3 votes

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

I agree with verbose's answer; this is a supplemental take on the question. Disclaimer: I know nothing about Dene culture beyond what's in the story, so I'm making some assumptions here. In many non-...
DLosc's user avatar
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3 votes
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Who is the protagonist and antagonist in the myth of Creation of Seasons by Dene?

The hunters at the start are not necessarily an entirely different group from the four at the end. There is no indication in the story that the four are entirely a different set from the hunters at ...
verbose's user avatar
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3 votes
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What does it mean for Venus to 'read my case' in Drummond of Hawthornden's madrigal?

Venus and the rose Bion’s ‘Lament for Adonis’ is the earliest surviving version of the myth of Adonis to mention the rose, and in this version Adonis’s blood becomes the rose: ‘Thou diest, oh thrice-...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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3 votes

Why does Ishtar insist on being called "Ishtar"?

You're overthinking it. As the 'great mother goddess', Ishtar is literally the 'many-named', the 'thousand-named', the 'myriad-named' and—while you can guess at why the character Morpheus goaded her ...
lly's user avatar
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2 votes

Why does Ishtar insist on being called "Ishtar"?

The reason for her insistence on the name Ishtar could be quite simple. Belili is the name applied by the Canaanites (1) who were Hebrew, and had their own God. Astarte is the Hellenised form (2), ...
KittenWithAWhip's user avatar
2 votes

Children raised out of human society - ancient stories

How about the oldest known work of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2100 BC)? The legendary character of Enkidu is a "wild man", living with the beasts until he is seduced and tamed by ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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2 votes
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Who is Gugalanna?

The Wikipedia contributors did a fairly decent job of gathering what little information is available about Gugalanna. The only text in the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCSL) that ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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1 vote

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

This poem also has many callbacks, most notably the title, to the Roman Catullus' poem of the same name. That poem contains the line "fortūna mihī tētē abstulit ipsum", "Fortuna has ...
thegreatemu's user avatar
1 vote

Is there specific mythological significance to the Dingli Cliffs?

Today I went to visit the Dingli Cliffs, and I asked a Maltese tour guide whether there's any local mythology specific to that location. She told me about the theory that Gozo (the second island of ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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1 vote

Children raised out of human society - ancient stories

This comes under the heading of history or social sciences, rather than literature. But: Herodotus (c. 484 BC – c. 425 BC) relates, in his Histories (Book II), the story of Psammeticus (Psamtik I), ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
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