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.
Legends of vampires have existed for millennia; cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Hebrews, Ancient Greeks, and Romans had tales of demonic entities and blood-drinking spirits which are considered precursors to modern vampires. However, despite the occurrence of vampire-like creatures in these ancient civilizations, the folklore for the entity we know today as the vampire originates almost exclusively from early 18th-century Southeastern Europe, as verbal traditions of many ethnic groups of the region were recorded and published. In most cases, vampires are revenants of evil beings, suicide victims, or witches, but can also be created by a malevolent spirit possessing a corpse or by being bitten by a vampire itself. Belief in such legends became so rife that in some areas it caused mass hysteria and even public executions of people believed to be vampires.
Tales of the undead consuming the blood or flesh of living beings have been found in nearly every culture around the world for many centuries. Today we know these entities predominantly as vampires, but in ancient times, the term vampire did not exist; blood drinking and similar activities were attributed to demons or spirits who would eat flesh and drink blood; even the devil was considered synonymous with the vampire.
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.
- ... that on every Wednesday and Saturday, the demons of Sri Lanka assemble to give an account of their activities to their king?
- ... that in Mesoamerican folklore, it is believed that a dog (mythical dog pictured) carries the newly deceased across a body of water into the afterlife?
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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.
An ala or hala (plural: ale or hali) is a mythological creature recorded in the folklore of Bulgarians, Macedonians, and Serbs. Ale are considered demons of bad weather whose main purpose is to lead hail-producing thunderclouds in the direction of fields, vineyards, or orchards to destroy the crops, or loot and take them away. Extremely voracious, ale particularly like to eat children, though their gluttony is not limited to Earth. It is believed they can try to devour the Sun or the Moon causing eclipses; her success would mean the end of the world.
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