Stories centuries in the making, and many centuries worth of stories, are an integral part of modern society. Whether modern or ancient, every culture has its myths. Mythology forms our understanding of our origin, history, and traditions. They tell of our heroes and deities. Myths are vehicles for understanding religion, for learning language, and for understanding society, but they can often be difficult to understand and confusing. The Handy Mythology Answer Book examines and explains, in plain English, numerous myths and mythology.
From the ancient Greek and Roman to Egypt and Babylon, from Native North American Indian to Celtic, Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian, African, and the lesser known myths from around the world, The Handy Mythology Answer Book has them covered. Whether it is the modern retelling of a classic myth or an ancient story about a Norse god, this helpful resource demystifies the myth, looks at different archetypes and motifs, and even shows how myths help explain our existence and institutions. It answers nearly 600 questions and offers fun facts about the treachery and violence, the inspirational and epic, the supernatural monsters and heroic mortals found in mythology, such as How and when did myths originate? What are the three primary myth types? What is the nature of Creation Myths? How can myths be compared to dreams? Why do humans tell myths? What was the Egyptian Book of the Dead? How is the epic of Gilgamesh like later epics? Why is the biblical flood story so like the Babylonian flood myth? What was the myth of Theseus, the Labyrinth, and the Minotaur? What are the Homeric Hymns? How and why are the Odyssey and the Iliad so different from each other? What is the popular appeal of the Odyssey? Did the Greeks see these myths as religion or as entertainment? What was the background myth of the Oedipus plays? What was the nature of Roman mythology during the Roman Republic? What was the Metamorphosis? How did Christian narrative and tradition fit into and come to dominate the Roman mythological tradition? How is Celtic culture and mythology related to the culture and mythology of Greek, Roman, and other cultures? How did the Vedas contribute to Hindu mythology? Who invented Chinese writing? What was the Aztec pantheon? What is the story of the Cherokee Grandmother Sun? Who are some Native American tricksters? What is the story of Schrödinger’s Cat? How did Freud use myths? How is myth used in politics?
A glossary of commonly used terms and an appendix of parallel mythology exploring universal themes, motifs, and archetypes from across various cultures further explains the world of mythology.
David Leeming, Ph.D. received his B.A. in English from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in comparative literature from New York University. He spent eight years teaching at Robert College in Istanbul and twenty-six years at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, where he is an emeritus professor of English and comparative literature. He has traveled widely, studying mythological traditions around the world. His books include a biography of James Baldwin and many books on mythology, including most recently Myth: A Biography of Belief (Oxford 2002), Jealous Gods and Chosen People: The Mythology of the Middle East (Oxford 2004), The Oxford Companion to World Mythology (Oxford 2005), Creation Myths of the World (ABC-CLIO 2010), Medusa: In the Mirror of Time (Reaktion 2013), and a revised edition of The World of Myth (Oxford, 2014). He is also editor in chief of The Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion (3rd edition, Springer, 2014). He resides in Rhinebeck, New York.