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Hephaestus in ‘Vulcan forging the Thunderbolts of Jupiter’ (1636-1638) by Peter Paul Rubens.

How Did the Ugly Olympian Hephaestus Manage to Marry the Goddess of Love?

As one of the twelve Olympians, Hephaestus was a major deity for the ancient Greeks. In Greek mythology, Hephaestus was primarily the god of fire and smiths, but he was also in charge of other crafts...
‘Crossing the River Styx’ (circa 1520-1524) by Joachim Patinir. Many ancient people imagined the edges of the earth as strange and magical places.

What Did Ancient Civilizations Believe Lay at The Edges of the Earth?

The first civilizations didn’t have satellites in the sky, mapping every inch of the world in real time. They only knew the parts of the world they’d seen. Everything beyond that, they had to imagine...
Detail of a modern representation of Hecate.

Hecate: Holding Court Over Ancient Greek Witchcraft, the Moon, and Ghosts

"I am she that is the natural mother of all things, mistress and governess of all the elements, the initial progeny of worlds, chief of powers divine, Queen of heaven, the principal of the Gods...
Theseus and the Minotaur.

Theseus: The Greek Hero That Slayed the Minotaur

Theseus was a hero in Greek mythology and a legendary king of Athens. The most famous myth involving Theseus is the one in which he slayed the dreaded Minotaur. Many stories about Theseus say he not...
Medusa in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. There are other creatures from ancient Greek myth in Assassin’s Creed as well.

Ancient Greek Myth in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Medusa, The Minotaur and More?

The upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey game gives players a glimpse at the mythology of ancient Greece. How big of a step the creators have taken into that realm is still under wraps, but when the...
‘Comet of 1680 over Rotterdam’ by Lieve Verschuier.

Myths and Meteors: How Ancient Cultures Explained Comets and Other Chunks of Rock Falling From the Sky

Eve MacDonald / The Conversation Comets and meteors have fascinated the human race since they were first spotted in the night sky. But without science and space exploration to aid understanding of...
Mythical creatures – The Tooth Fairy

Tooth Fairy Tales: The Strange Origins of the Dental Sprite

The tooth fairy is rivalled only by Santa Claus in popularity among American children. She is famous for exchanging a few dollars for baby teeth that have fallen out. Belief in the tooth fairy has...
Zmaj and the Dragon Lore of Slavic Mythology

Zmaj and the Dragon Lore of Slavic Mythology

The dragon is one of the most well-known creatures in ancient mythology, and many cultures have this creature (or one of its related forms) in their folklore. In East Asian countries, for instance,...
Centaurs in the Forbidden Forest.

Ancient Mythology Informs Modern Series: The Fantastical Folktales of Harry Potter

Global, myth, folklore, and legends provided inspiration for the vast array of vivid creatures and fantastical elements that fill the pages and the silver screen of the enthralling, magical world of...
The Sirens and Ulysses, 1837, William Etty

Enchanting Women of the Odyssey: From Seductive Sirens to Wicked Witches

Of the monsters and mythological creatures Odysseus encounters during his long voyage from Troy to Ithaca, among the fiercest are female. Three of these are Circe, the Sirens and Calypso, who all...
A stereotypical depiction of a leprechaun

Fascinating Facts You Probably Did Not Know About Leprechauns

The leprechaun is perhaps one of the best-known creatures in Irish folklore. Leprechauns are popularly depicted as little men with beards dressed in green coats and tall green hats. Other well-known...
Melpomene in a painting ‘Hesiod and the Muse’ (1891) by Gustave Moreau.

Melpomene: A Tragic Mother of Sirens or a Misunderstood Muse?

The term muse is now almost synonymous with inspiration. This is because the Muses were originally the goddesses of the arts which often lead to inspiration. The Muses were daughters of Zeus who were...
Drawing of a werewolf in woodland at night. Main illustration for the story "The Werewolf Howls". Internal illustration from the pulp magazine Weird Tales

Why We Should Welcome the Return of ‘Old Stinker’, the English Werewolf

Sam George / The Conversation In 2016, there was something of a folk panic in Yorkshire, northern England, following reported sightings of an eight-foot werewolf with a very human face. The werewolf...
Paleolithic Venus figures

The Ideal Woman’s Body – a Gift of the Gods?

We all know what the perfect woman’s body looks like. Or do we? Is it Kim Kardashian, with her popular ‘internet-breaking’ big behind, or Marilyn Monroe with her voluptuous movie curves? Is it a...
A relief of Epona, flanked by two pairs of horses, from Roman Macedonia, foruth century C.E.

The Celtic Goddess Epona that Rode Swiftly Across the Ancient Roman Empire

The protector of horses, mules, and cavalry, Epona was one of the only non-Roman goddesses to have been wholly adopted by the Roman Empire. Often depicted astride a horse, Epona resonated in the...
Section of the Carta Marina, 1527-39

Magic Mountains and Sea Serpents: the Secrets of Early Arctic Maps

By Tom Harper / The Conversation What comes to mind when you think of the Arctic? Ice, I imagine, polar bears, a barren cold landscape. And most would assume that these associations have remained the...

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