Mythology Notes

Mythology Notes

Mythology Notes

Mythology Notes


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background.

In CliffsNotes on Mythology, you'll review the myths from seven different cultures and gain an overview of the stories that people have lived by from ancient times to the present. The gods and their stories depict life's lessons and personal relationships and present a moral code of human conduct. These stories are also a map to understanding history.

This CliffsNotes guide covers Egyptian, Babylonian, Indian, Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies, as well as the Arthurian legends. Features that help you figure out these important works include

  • An introduction to mythology
  • The main gods of various cultures
  • Review questions
  • Recommended readings
  • Genealogical tables of major gods

Classic literature or modern-day treasure - you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.


In writing a concise Mythology of seven different cultures, it is not only necessary to choose the stories carefully, it is essential to select the most pertinent details from several variations of a myth. Frequently there are many versions of a legend or myth. And this accounts for discrepancies between what one writer will say and another’s telling of the same tale. Any comparison of the various mythology books on the market will show marked divergences, running from the spelling of names to details of events to the shape and emphasis of the myths. It is impossible to achieve uniformity in this field, both practically and theoretically.

Nor is this surprising. People reporting the same event give widely varying versions of it. So multiply this by centuries of oral transmission through eras of cultural stagnation and upheaval and in distinct geographical locales often separated by hundreds of miles. Then multiply these versions by a conversion into literature, where every author has a unique personality and viewpoint. Finally, watch the myths change over a thousand and more years of literary tradition. The confusion is bound to be truly bewildering. It is perhaps lucky for mythographers that so much of classical literature has been lost, for they would never be done sorting it all out. As it is, there is more than enough disorder in this field. Theories are superabundant.

If one were to combine each account of a myth into one story the result would be as chaotic as life itself. The basic function of myth is to order reality into significant patterns. Therefore, we have tried to organize the various stories in this volume into readable and coherent units, while giving the reader important variations when they occur. Where this work differs in details, spelling, or in the form of a story from other books on the subject, it does not mean that anyone is incorrect, for every writer has had to face the awesome task of making selections on the basis of his own judgment.

The principles of choice behind this volume are these; Does a story reveal something important about the culture from which . . .

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