'A vivid retelling of 50 well-known myths from around the world.'
|image: courtesy of amazon.co.uk|
And that is precisely what Diana Ferguson gives us. She talks of not only myth, but beliefs and religions, as recurring patterns and archetypes formed by humans over and over again. This is a collective work containing some real gems from throughout ancient history; some you may know and some you my have forgotten, while many more will be new to you.
She deftly explores the rich meanings and deep significance revealed to us, once we decode the symbols and imagery of these ancient tales. If we look hard enough, she tells us, there is a rich landscape of symbolic language. Shapes and designs reappear across cultures and continents. Gods and their legendary antics echo around the globe, though the gods may carry different names. This is true, for through my own research I have found this to exist when comparing the cultures of my characters and the gods known to each of them. Think of five-pointed stars, spirals, crescents or tri-cornered knots.
Quite soon into 'Myths Retold' parallels are evident that span global civilizations. Take for instance the idea of virgin conception and woman as the great sea of life. These are visible through several manifestations including the Virgin Mary, also found as Nana of Asia Minor, Cerridwen of Britain, Coatlicue of Mexico, Aphrodite of Greece and Lakshmi of Hindu myth. Consider too the intense similarity between 'Odin' as known to the Norse in Scandinavia and 'Woden' revered by the tribes of Germania.
I enjoyed poring through this volume as repetition and archetypes formed the basis for my early design of my book series. I purposely sought parallels in belief to bring characters closer together and reading this book, the same could be said for humanity itself over time. Humans have sought to repeat and replicate ancient themes that can be best described thus as 'a treasure hoard of wisdom, of compassion, of beauty, [and] triumph of the creative imagination'.
|Hercules, and the Hesperides guarding Hera's apples of immortality|
I feel this Armenian saying, taken from 'Myths Retold', concludes it well:
'Three golden apples fell from heaven:
one for those who told the story,
one for those who heard it,
and one for all the countless many
who have cared enough to remember...'
What myths or legends can you recall that thread through our lives today?
What is your favourite myth/legend?
Does your writing contain, or has it been inspired by, myth and legend?