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The epic of Gilgamesh: Why has the Babylonian hero story of an ancient king, his companion, and their battles with ogres and seductive goddesses endured for over 4, years? Tales from The Arabian Nights : Discover how the adventures of Sindhbad the Sailor, Aladdin, Ali Baba, and other treasured stories from the elaborately constructed One Thousand and One Nights sparked themes and motifs that would reappear in later European fairy tales. Among them: the Book of Job , which, when looked at from a mythological perspective, challenges us to rethink our place in the world and our suffering by viewing it from a cosmic perspective; the teachings of the Buddha , which spread so widely throughout India, Sri Lanka, China, and Japan that its mythological teachings began to reflect distinctive elements of each culture; and the lives of the pharaohs , whose mythological aspects even embedded in their royal titles tended to hammer home their divine right to sustain order in ancient Egypt.

Africa No course on world mythology is complete without considering the stories of Africa. The Mother of All Mythology You could consider African myths as the mother of all mythology, as many of the African stories date back centuries before the better-known myths of Greek and Rome. Humanity and Gods The relationship between humanity and the gods in African mythology is complex.

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Asia and the Pacific The sun goddess, Amaterasu, has hidden herself from the world, and must be coaxed back by the spirit of unbridled joy. Society and Sacrifice in a Watery World The three most significant and ubiquitous themes in these myths are social networks, sacrifice, and the omnipresence of water. Points of Divergence and Convergence with World Traditions An important factor to consider when studying mythology is the method of transmission from generation to generation: are these stories part of an oral tradition, were they originally recited and then recorded late in their history, or are they part of an ancient written tradition?

Commonalities across the Lands Despite differences in location and cultures, there are values and ideas that span the scope of Native American stories. Great Mythologies of the World: The Americas takes a deep dive into the commonalities and differences that were found in these widespread mythologies, including: The notion that nature is sacred, and the tradition of animism the idea that everything is both alive and holy , is a theme that permeates stories from all over the continents. This worldview is strikingly different from our own modern thought, and provides us with an opportunity to reframe the way we conceptualize the relationship between humans, animals, plants, and even landforms like mountains and rivers.

The former conceive of the world beginning as a primordial sea, with creatures diving to the bottom to bring up mud to form the earth. The latter envision a series of worlds stacked on top of each other beneath the surface of the earth, with creatures from the bottom levels climbing higher and becoming more humanlike as they ascend. However, the Trickster is often also a cultural hero and provides significant contributions to creation. Each lecture focuses on the types of myth that characterize these nations and the values manifest in them.

In one version told by the Haida from the islands off the coast of British Columbia and Alaska , her name is Rhpisunt. Buffalo Woman : Figure in a myth of the Arikara who shows a young man how to transform the buffalo people into real animals. Coyote : A creator, culture hero, and trickster in the myths of several Native American peoples, including the Crow, the Navajo, the Hopi, and others. Hiawatha : Figure associated with the Iroquois Confederacy. In some stories, he becomes a cannibal who is rescued by Deganawida. Kokopelli : Hunch-backed flute player; he is a fertility god who dates back to the time of the Anasazi.

Raven : Culture hero of the Inuit, as well as a trickster in many stories from the American Northwest.

He has the ability to transform himself from a bird into a man. Quetzalcoatl : One of the oldest gods in Mesoamerica, he is found in virtually every culture in the region. Hide Full Description. Average 31 minutes each. Welcome to the ancient Greek myths: some of the most popular, well-known stories in Western civilization. When did these tales emerge, and what are our earliest sources for them?

Find out in this lecture on father-son conflicts between Uranus, Kronos, Zeus, and the other first-generation gods known as the Titans.

Meet three iconic goddesses whose personalities and stories reflect how the ancient Greeks viewed women. They are: Athena, who emerged fully-formed from Zeus's head and is linked to legal courts; Aphrodite, best known for her wild love affair with Adonis; and Hera, Zeus's wife-sister, who presides over marriage and childbirth. Discover fresh insights into several Greek myths that teach us about the relationship between gods and humans. Is Prometheus a troublemaker according to Hesiod or a liberator according to Aeschylus? What happened after Pandora's box of evil spirits was opened?

How did Persephone's kidnapping inspire the Eleusinian Mysteries?

Goblins - The Story Behind the Creepy Little Men of European Folklore

Investigate the mythological roots and legacies of the powerful - but flawed - Greek hero, Herakles. Explore common threads that run through some of his twelve labors, including the slaying of the Hydra and the cleaning of the Augean stables.


Also, ponder Herakles's role in ancient Greek society as both mortal and god. Turn now to the hero of Homer's celebrated Odyssey: Odysseus. From his plans for the Trojan horse to his tricking of a murderous cyclops to his final arrival back in Ithaca, learn how Odysseus's scheming and lying led to heroic triumphs that made his story relatable to everyday ancient Greeks - and to modern readers. An altogether different - and darker - mythological adventure story is Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece. In pondering the best-known versions of both Jason's story and his wife, Medea's, you'll begin to see Jason as a failed hero and Medea as more than just the woman who murdered her own children.

Not all Roman mythology is indebted to Greece.

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  4. Focus on several uniquely Roman myths about the empire's founding, including the lives of the brothers Romulus and Remus and the abduction of the Sabine women. What's the difference between creation and origin stories? What are some traditional mythic elements we find in ancient Rome? Discover why Aeneas, the ancestor of all Romans, and Tarpeia, who betrayed Rome for personal gain, are two sides of the same coin.

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    As you explore their stories, you'll see how they offer inspirational and cautionary testaments to Rome's values - and reflect character types we see in almost every civilization's myths. What does Cybele reveal about the great mother goddesses of mythological traditions? Learn how this classic figure evolved over thousands of years, how it adapted to different cultures, how it became connected in Rome with power and aristocracy, and where it appears and doesn't appear in other human cultures.

    Using the intriguing tale of Dagda and his magic harp as a framework, Professor McClymond introduces you to the often unappreciated world of Celtic mythology. Meet unforgettable heroes like Cu Chulainn and Lugh, and encounter powerful magical items and treasures with unique personalities, including the Stone of Fal. Dark and brooding, Norse mythology reflects the harsh living conditions of ancient Germanic and Scandinavian people. Here, focus on two of the most well-known Norse gods: Odin the god of war who sacrificed himself on a tree and Thor the god of order who wields his dwarf-crafted hammer, Mjolnir.

    Skidbladnir, the ship of the gods that can also fit in your pocket. Andvarinaut, a powerful ring that inspired a cycle of mythological stories. These and other magical items are the prized possessions of Norse kings, warriors, and heroes. And their importance - and legacies - are the subject of this final lecture. Start these riveting lectures at the only appropriate point: the oldest story in the world. In looking at the epic of Gilgamesh, you'll learn how this foundational Babylonian myth reflects real historical tensions between ancient Eastern city-states; tensions mirrored in the myth's concerns with civilized - and untamed - human nature.

    Where did ancient Babylonians believe the world came from? What startling similarities does their account have with the Bible's?

    Age of Mythology

    Explore these and other questions in this look at the Enuma Elish, a sophisticated creation story or cosmogony that casts the average Babylonian as a mere afterthought in the eyes of the gods. Perpetual violence. A destructive struggle between order and chaos. Welcome to the mythography of ancient Egypt, which includes multiple creation stories tied to different city centers; a fantastic pantheon of gods; different historical and mythic time lines"; and maat, the overarching concept of morality and justice.

    Focus on three Egyptian gods who are inextricably linked with the pharaohs. They are the murdered and resurrected Osiris, associated with nature; Horus, the sky god responsible for unifying Upper and Lower Egypt; and Ra, the popular sun god known for his nightly journeys through the land of the dead. The pharaohs themselves played a vital role in Egyptian culture, maintaining cosmic order throughout the land. Investigate the lives and deaths and possible afterlives of several of ancient Egypt's pharaohs, including King Amenhotep IV, who tried to become a supreme god, and Cleopatra, the civilization's last pharaoh.

    Examine the biblical Book of Job through a mythological lens and learn how it addresses the same basic questions of other myths. How do Job's trials and tribulations at the hand of the Hebrew god force us to look at the world - and our role within it - from a fresh perspective? Get inside Indian culture with this lecture on its two great epics: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Both are frame narratives that bring together hundreds of smaller stories.

    Both help establish Vishnu's importance among other Hindu gods.

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    And both have had a lasting effect on Indian spirituality, politics, and literature. Turn now to a section of the Mahabharata known as the Bhagavad Gita. You'll peel back the layers behind the popular story of the warrior Arjuna; learn how to read the Gita as a devotional story and a manual for life; and discover how it shaped Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy.

    According to Professor McClymond, it's best to understand the mythology of Buddhism as a grand anthology of short stories. With this in mind, explore the life and beliefs of the Buddha, ponder the teachings of Buddhist myth as told through its stories, and examine stories that pit Buddhism against other religious traditions. The Book of Kings is widely regarded as the national epic of the world's Persian-speaking community. Go inside this 11th-century epic poem that traces 50 generations of Persian kings and heroes, including Rostam - whom you'll follow on his famous seven labors" and his battle with the crown prince of Persia.