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From time immemorial, human beings have attempted to answer their questions about the nature of the universe and life itself through storytelling. Myths unite us across lines of cultural difference, forming the framework by which people identify themselves and understand the wider world around them. As Joseph Campbell writes in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, no matter how different myths are from people to people and from age to age, they all form “one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find, together with a challengingly persistent suggestion of more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known or told” (1). This guide will provide you with websites, books, podcasts, and more that introduce the world of myth and invite deeper exploration into these fundamental stories.
The deceptively simple question, “what is mythology” produces a range of complex answers. Mythology is a category of human expression that defies uncomplicated definitions. While myths rest under the label of tradition or story or legend, they vary in their purpose and the manner in which they are told. Explore mythology’s roots and etymology through the resources below.
Mythology: Origins, Etymology, and Genre
For a look at mythology in its broadest sense, visit the Wikipedia Mythology Portal. This resource links to articles on myths from around the world, and includes fun facts and featured articles and images.
This article from ThoughtCo explores the basic questions surrounding mythology, and outlines methods for study and interpretation.
Mike Rugnetta gives an overview of mythology in this introduction to the CrashCourse series on myth. You'll find many other CrashCourse videos, offering more specific and in-depth information, later in this guide.
In this dictionary entry, learn how the roots of the word "mythology," from the Greek mythos (story) and logos (word), emphasize its ties to oral tradition.
This video documentary series, hosted by Michael Wood, details some of the most well-known myths and heroes around the world. The Queen of Sheba, Shangri-La, King Arthur, and Jason and the Golden Fleece each get their own episode.
The Mythology Podcast provides a list of resources for all things mythology and folklore, including directories, classic texts, and a blogroll.
Mythology and Folklore: Similarities and Differences
Esther Lombardi parses out generic differences in this article. She explains that myths and folktales share roots in oral storytelling, but the scope of these stories is different. Myths tend to look at big-picture questions, whereas folklore is more localized.
Learn more about the differences and points of connection between myth and folktales, courtesy of this article from The Poetics Project.
This resource provides a repository of texts relating to myth and folklore, from A - Z. Among them, you'll find a Chinese Creation and Flood Myth from the Miao people, Blackfoot creation and origin myths, and Apuleius's Cupid and Psyche.
Ancient and Classical Mythology
Before the scientific and technological advances of modern times could help explain natural phenomena, people turned to storytelling to understand the world around them. Famous tales from the ancient world have formed the basis for many works of literature and art up to the present day. From the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, myths from civilizations of the past have retained cultural relevance well into the twenty-first century. Learn more about myths from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome below.
Discover the Mesopotamian pantheon ("all the gods" pertaining to a certain culture) via the Godchecker website. Learn about the Epic of Gilgamesh, and discover the connection between Sumerian, Akkadian, and Mesopotamian gods.
Learn more about the interaction between gods and heroes in ancient Mesopotamian myth with this website, which links to articles on Abgal, Nabu, Zu, and more.
This LitCharts Study Guide will help you get to know the most famous piece of writing from Mesopotamia. Among its many sections are resources on context, both quick-reference and detailed plot summaries, and an interactive theme wheel.
Dr. Stephen J. Tinney presents a video lecture on flood mythology in Mesopotamia. The information presented is made possible through the recently-published text of ancient fragmentary tablets.
Learn more about the Sumerian deities in a continuation of Mike Rugnetta’s program on ancient Mediterranean gods.
Melvyn Bragg hosts a radio program on The Epic of Gilgamesh with guests from leading UK universities. Learn how the tablets containing the story were gradually discovered, reassembled, and translated.
Discover the ancient Egyptian pantheon through the British Museum’s extensive collection of artifacts devoted to the deities.
Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism presents a comprehensive web guide to ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses. You'll find pages on Aken (Ferryman of the underworld), Mut (Grandmother of the Gods), Wadjet (the serpent goddess), and many others.
This podcast's many episodes allow you to uncover Egypt’s history up to the fall of Rome, and how it intertwines with "pyramids, pharaohs, gods, and mysteries."
This article guides you through the most popular myths of ancient Egypt, beginning with the myth of creation and ending with the Cinderella-like tale of the Girl with Rose-red slippers.
Joshua Mark outlines Egyptian mythology’s structures and stories as they relate to history and society. He begins with a helpfully detailed "definition" of Egyptian mythology.
Greek and Roman Mythology
Delve deeply into the myths of Greek heroes in this 17-week free online course, co-sponsored by Harvard and taught by professors from Harvard and Brandeis.
This article provides a broad overview of ancient Greek myths, from literary and archaeological sources to modern interpretations.
Melvyn Bragg hosts a radio program on Greek myths, "from Achilles to Zeus," with guests from leading UK universities. Learn about Penelope's shroud, Arachne's presumption, and Cerberus the three-headed dog.
The first website devoted exclusively to Greek myth, GreekMythology.com has operated since 1997. The site provides resources on nearly every individual god, Titan, or mortal involved in Greek mythology, and includes information on films and books which serve as a broad introduction to the topic.
With this open online course, you can delve into the stories that comprise Greek and Roman myth with Professor Peter Struck of the University of Pennsylvania.
This article, which accompanies the PBS series on the history of ancient Rome, outlines ancient Roman myth and religious belief.
Wikipedia offers an overview of Roman myths and religious practice. Learn about Rome's founding myth and interactions with foreign gods.
Watch and learn about the deities of ancient Greece and Rome with this CrashCourse video. It addresses origin stories, family relationships, and each god's "specialty."
This podcast overs well over 100 episodes, in which host Paul Vincent discusses the intersection between myth and history in ancient Greece and Rome.
Asian and Oceanic Mythology
The nations comprising Asia and Oceania are home to diverse peoples with distinct mythologies, grounded in the unique natural landscapes of the region. Some Chinese myths involve floods, while Polynesian legends tell of volcanic eruption and island formation. Further, religion and indigenous spiritual practice have influenced myths from Asia and Oceania. These include Hindu mythology in India and the Aboriginal belief in the prehistoric golden age of Dreamtime.
Wikipedia provides a sweeping overview of Hindu and Indian mythology and legend. You can learn about anything from demons to weapons to eschatology.
Read texts about the Hindu deities in English translation. This archive contains links to each of the four Vedas, the primary texts of Hinduism.
Devdutt Pattanaik investigates the differences between Indian and Western myths, and suggests how these differences influence belief systems.
Stories of Hindu deities and Indian epics are available in English and Hindi in this repository of mythic stories. You'll also find links to information about Indian temples.
Mike Rugnetta continues his exploration of mythic pantheons with this video on Indian gods. He focuses on stories that were written in Sanskrit.
Learn more about the Ramayana, the Hindu goddess Kali, and monkey god Hanuman with these Mythology Podcast episodes.
Read Werner’s influential and in-depth volume on Chinese mythology, first published in 1915. Learn about the goddess of mercy, the guardian of the gate of heaven, and many other stories.
Author Barbara Laban shares her favorite Chinese myths in this article from The Guardian, from Sun WuKong the monkey king to the Chinese zodiac.
Mike Rugnetta teaches about Chinese flood stories in this CrashCourse video. He tells the story of Yu, an ancient engineer and mythical ruler.
The famous Chinese performance troupe Shen Yun provides a website with information on ancient Chinese legends.
Explore Chinese mythological views on the ten suns, twelve moons, and story of creation on the Windows to the Universe website.
Japanese and Korean Mythology
Myths that came from the Shimane area of Japan, which is located on the main Honshu island, are explored on this website.
Study.com provides an overview of Korean deities and legends. You'll learn about the mix of "shamanism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and various local myths" that inform the fluid Korean mythology.
Explore five essential points of ancient Japanese mythology with this site. Included here are the Japanese creation myth, Amaterasu and the cave, Hare of Inaba, the legend of Emperor Jimmu, and more.
Discover one of the supernatural creatures of Japanese myth— the yokai—with The Mythology Podcast. In this episode, you'll encounter "human-headed trees, fox weddings, a trip to the underworld, and enchanted umbrellas."
Watch this video to learn about the mythical founding of Korea. The Dangun myth stars Korea's legendary founder, the son of the Prince of the heavens and a woman who was once a bear.
Australian and Polynesian Mythology
This article, which accompanies Morgan Freeman's National Geographic documentary The Story of God, details creation myths of the Aboriginal Australian people.
Godchecker's introduction to the Aboriginal Australian gods includes an A - Z index, a section on the mythological golden age of Dreamtime, and tracks the latest popular Australian deities based on webpage hits.
This video, presented by Tom Cummings of Hawaii's Bishop Museum and featuring the storyteller Kealoha Kelekolio, relays information on the Hawaiian creation myth.
Discover how mythology interprets volcanic activity in Hawaii through this Forbes article. You'll learn about a volcanic fight between two mythological sisters, Pele and Hi'iaka.
Explore legends of the Maori people, Hawai’i, and Rapa Nue (Easter) Island via the Windows to the Universe Website. You'll meet the creator god Makemake, the Maori Sky Father Rangi, and many others.
African and Middle Eastern Mythology
From deserts to jungles, the African continent is composed of vastly diverse geographical climates and landscapes. The mythology of the continent reflects that diversity. The populations of the Middle East, located across the Mediterranean from North Africa, also developed wide-ranging belief systems. In this section, you'll encounter myths influenced by Judaism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism.
This CrashCourse video introduces you to the deities of the Yoruba people of western Africa. It gives particular attention to the Orisha spirits.
Godchecker provides a list of African deities, tracing similarities and differences among the pantheons of different cultures and tribes across the continent.
Oxford Reference hosts a dictionary of African mythology by Harold Scheub. Though full access to the text requires a subscription, you’ll be able to search abstracts and titles of legends in alphabetical organization, and connect deities and stories to specific tribes and countries.
This webpage offers an introduction to the mythology of the Yoruba and Fon people. Learn about Shango, the Yoruba deity of thunder and lightning, and many others.
African myths, ranging from the story of the Zambezi River God to the creation of the world, are collected in this article from online news outlet The African Exponent.
Listen to this podcast for an introduction to Yoruba religion and mythology. You'll learn about the culture's connection to divination, and learn about some of the Orishas in the Yoruba pantheon.
Arabian, Islamic, and Iranian Mythology
In a series of radio programs hosted by the BBC, you can listen and learn about touchstones of Arabian myth, from jinn to the One Thousand and One Nights.
Wikipedia’s entry on Islamic mythology discusses the supernatural events, beings, and sacred places that figure in the Qur'an.
This post from the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies offers brief descriptions of each god and goddess in the Persian pantheon, from Agas (demoness of illness) to Zurvan (god of infinite time and space).
This video details the rise of the ancient Iranian religion Zoroastrianism. You'll encounter Zarathustra, Ahura Mazda, and the Avesta.
The Wikipedia entry on Jewish mythology provides a good point of departure for further exploration. Learn about the creation myth in Genesis (which is shared with Christianity), and find links to separate articles on Jewish apocrypha, Merkabah mysticism, and more.
This article provides an overview of mythology associated with Judaism, from golem to Solomon’s vampire. Learn about the many sources for Jewish myth, from the Talmud to Kabbalistic literature.
In this podcast, hear the story of King Solomon’s magical ring. Purportedly a gift from God, the ring allowed him to control demons and had quite a few other impressive powers, too.
Read about the legend of the Watchers and the mythology of angels in this article from an Israeli newspaper, which connects Judaic myth with the wider world of the ancient Middle East.
Mythology from the Northern climes features snow queens and fae, cattle raids and golden eggs. Here, you can find information on some of the most influential myths of the European continent and the British isles. You'll discover tensions and continuities between ancient, pagan myths and the Christian tradition which dominated the region from the Middle Ages onward.
Russian and Slavic Mythology
Familiarize yourself with popular Slavic myths through this article. You'll learn about the god Rod, who came to earth in a golden egg, and why the lord of darkness Chernobog wanted to capture the universe.
Here, Godchecker provides information on the pantheons of Russia and Eastern Europe. The A - Z index will introduce you to Baba-Yaga, Mikula, Zorya and more.
This article presents a broad overview of deities and myths from across Eastern Europe. Learn about Perun, the most important god in the Slavic pantheon, and his many incarnations.
Learn about spirits and creatures featured in Russian and Slavic myths via Study.com. The article introduces both single-figure creatures and spirits.
Learn more about the ancient Celtic pantheon through Godchecker. You'll read about the power of the Druids, and meet "megalithic military mother goddess" Morrigan.
Let Luminarium introduce you to Ireland’s ancient Celtic deities and heroes, from the legendary heroes Fionn mac Cumhail and Cú Chulainn to the gods Danu and Dagda.
This webpage offers information about the different mythic story-cycles, along with an introduction to some of the more famous Celtic tales like Tain bo Cualinge.
The third episode in the BBC's series on the Celts focuses on Celtic mythology and its relation to the pagan religious practice of Druidism.
A collection of information on Norse gods and creatures, from giants to land spirits, is available on this website. Learn about Freya and Baldur, along with Yggdrasil and the nine worlds.
Meet the Norse gods Loki, Thor, Freya, Odin and more in this video. CrashCourse recommends that you watch this video before Ragnorok, as it may not be available when the universe ends.
Here, host Melvyn Bragg moderates a conversation on the Norse pantheon. Learn about Valhalla, Thor and his hammer, and an all-important ash tree.
Dr. Karl Seigfried blogs here about Norse religion and mythology. You'll find posts on everything from mythology's influence on current events to shield-maidens.
In this post, delve into stories of Norse gods and goddesses and their rise and fall to Ragnarok (“the twilight of the gods”).
Mythology of the Americas
Ancient Native American tribes held many different beliefs about the nature of the universe in North America. Meanwhile, in South America, native peoples such as the Aztec and Inca had their own visions of gods and the wider world around them. Spanning two continents, mythology of the Americas varies as widely as the rainforests, plains, and tundra in which they were formed.
Mythology of the Indigenous Peoples of North America
The Wikipedia portal to Native American mythology is organized by tribe and region for a comprehensive introduction to pantheons and legends.
The Windows to the Universe site provides information on Inuit myths. Here, you'll be introduced to the Inuit deities of the sun, moon, and sea.
Here, you can find introductions to myths of the Algonquin, Pawnee, Navajo, and Lakota tribes. Learn about the Algonquian tribe's many names for the full moon, and the connection between coyotes and the Milk Way in Navajo myth.
The Touro College library provides an introductory resource guide to Native American myth, including book selections and web resources.
Central and South American Mythology
Windows to the Universe lays out Aztec myths related to celestial deities and planets. Learn about the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui and the sun god Huitzilopochtli.
Did you know the Aztecs believed their world had been created and destroyed four times before? In this ThoughtCo article, read about the Aztecs’ calendar, mythology, and their vision of the world’s creation.
Watch this short Smithsonian video about the Popol Vuh, the book detailing the Mayan creation story. You'll discover tales of the Hero Twins and the creation of the sky.
The Mayans’ mythological understanding of the planets and elements is described here. Learn about how the Mayans' detailed astronomical knowledge informed their mythology.
Godchecker introduces the Mayan pantheon here. Discover information on Cabrakan (God of the mountains), the hero twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque, and the World-tree.
Windows to the Universe uncovers the mythology of the Mamaiurans, an Amazon Indian people living in Brazil. You'll learn about the moon god Iae, and why the Mamaiurans had to share daylight with the king of the birds.
Like other Godchecker pages, this introduction to the gods of Brazil, Peru, and Chile includes an A - Z index of gods and a list of the latest popular deities.
Explore Incan mythology of the sun and earth on this webpage. You'll find brief introductions to the generous sun god Inti and his wife Pachamama.
Godchecker provides an introduction to the Incan deities. Meet the potato goddess Axomamma, and discover how the health goddess Cocomamma met an unfortunate end.
Resources for Teaching Mythology
Sharing mythology from around the globe with students allows them to appreciate unique stories and connect cross-cultural ideas, and also helps them understand the origins of literature, history, and the arts. With the following tools, you can create lesson plans and find inspiration for assignments and assessments.
Ideas for creative writing assignments and etymological explorations abound in this aggregated list of lesson plans and activities to teach students about mythology.
This resource from the National Earth Science Teachers Association draws comparisons between mythology and the natural world. You can delve into specific myths about planets and astrological phenomena, family trees of deities, and myths by region.
The Myth Man’s website provides a colorful spin on Greek myth, telling stories of heroes, gods, and creatures alongside a look at mythology’s influence on contemporary life. It also offers two mythology quizzes.
Well-known publisher Scholastic has collaborated with authors to create resources that inspire students to learn about and write their own larger-than-life stories.
English teacher Zak Hamby has compiled a website of teaching materials and sample lesson plans for educators looking to teach Greek, Roman, and Norse myths to their students.
Nested under ArtsEdge's "Myths and Heroes" section, you'll find lesson plans about myths for students from fifth through twelfth grades.
Several back-to-school lesson plans and resources are available courtesy of the NEH, including one on Greek mythology and another on "Navigating Ancient Worlds."
The ACL provides information on teaching tools, resources, and links on the classical world for educators and students alike. You'll need to create an account to access the content.
Search for lesson plans and assessments on mythology, created by teachers for teachers, for varying grade levels. You'll find entire unit plans along with individual activities.
Additional Resources for Learning about Mythology
The resources below will help you delve deeper into the world of mythology, inside or outside of the classroom. Fundamental texts in the study of mythology are covered here, along with podcasts and encyclopedias to empower you to discover new myths.
This alphabetized online encyclopedia contains A - Z entries on characters and tropes from myths worldwide. You'll find entries on trees in mythology, the Bhagavad Gita, Micronesian mythology, and much more.
Encyclopedia Mythica provides over 7,000 web articles relating to myths from around the globe, organized by geographical region and special interest content areas.
PlayerFM has aggregated an up-to-date list of the best mythology podcasts, including Jason Weisner’s popular Myths and Legends.
Explore Hamilton’s famous 1942 book, which serves as a comprehensive introduction to the Greek, Roman, and Norse gods, with this LitCharts study guide.
Access Thomas Bulfinch’s formative work on mythology, first published in 1867. It's available in several electronic formats via Project Gutenberg.
Alexandra Kennedy earned her Master's degree in English from the University of Oxford, and her Bachelor's degree from Middlebury College. As an undergraduate, Alexandra served as a First Year Seminar Mentor and Peer Writing Tutor. Most recently, she has gained experience in Montessori education while teaching at the Oneness-Family School.