According to medieval legend, the Holy Grail was the vessel from which Jesus Christ drank at the Last Supper, his final meal with his followers. Many works of literature describe the search for the Grail, which was believed to have sacred and mysterious powers.
Two of the greatest works of ancient literature—the Iliad and the Odyssey—are credited to a Greek poet named Homer. However, Homer is a shadowy figure, and some scholars doubt that he ever existed.
According to Roman legend, the Horatii were triplets who defended Rome against Alba Longa. To avoid a costly battle, the two cities decided to settle their dispute with a duel between champions from each side.
Horatius, also called Horatius Cocles (meaning "one-eyed"), was a mythical Roman hero credited with saving Rome from Etruscan invaders in the 500s B.C. According to the legend, Horatius led a group of warriors who were defending the Sublician Bridge, which led across the Tiber River into Rome.
Horus was one of the earliest and most important Egyptian gods. He was originally portrayed as a hawk or falcon and worshiped as a sun god and creator of the sky.
Huehueteotl was the Aztec god of fire and also the oldest god in the Aztec pantheon. He is typically shown as an aged man with a hunched back who carries a brazier—a pan for holding burning coals—on his head.
Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war, was associated with the sun. His name, which means "hummingbird of the south," came from the Aztec belief that the spirits of warriors killed in battle followed the sun through the sky for four years.
According to legend, the twins' father, Hun-Hunahpú, had also struggled with the gods of the underworld. The gods challenged him and his own twin brother to play a game of ball.
In Greek mythology, the Hydra was a giant water snake with many heads that lived in a swamp near Lerna in the land of Argos. The number of heads is variously reported from as few as 5 to more than 100.
The ancient Greeks said that Hypnos, the god of sleep, visited people during the dark of night to ease them into a state of rest. Hypnos hid from the sunlight during the day According to Greek myth, he was the son of Nyx, the goddess of night, and his brother was Thanatos, the god of death.
The Prose Edda, a book of Norse legends written in the 1220s, contains a story about Idun and the magic apples. One day Loki, the trickster god, was captured by a giant named Thiassi.
Igaluk is one of the names the Inuit people of North America use to refer to the god of the moon. According to Inuit legend, Igaluk was once a man who lived on earth.
Ile-Ife, also known as Ife or Ife-Lodun, is the holy city of the Yoruba people who live in Nigeria in West Africa. Ile-Ife appears in myths as the birthplace of creation and the location where the first humans took form.
One of the greatest epics of ancient Greece, the Iliad tells of events during the final year of the Trojan War*. Iliad means "poem of Ilios," one of the names of the city of Troy in Asia Minor*.
An important goddess of the ancient Near East, Inanna was worshiped primarily as the goddess of love and fertility. The daughter of either the sky god Anu or the storm god Enlil, she was also associated with forces of nature such as rain and thunderstorms.
In the mythology of Japan, the god Inari is associated mainly with the growing of rice. Because of the importance of this crop as a staple food in Japan, Inari is thought to bring prosperity not only to farmers but also to other groups of people, including merchants and traders.
The Inca civilization flourished in the Andes mountains of South America during the A.D. 1400S and early 1500s.
Indra was the ruler of the gods in early Hinduism. The son of the sky and the earth, he is a warrior god who protects people and animals and provides rain to water the land.
In Inca mythology, Inti was the sun god and the supreme god of the Inca pantheon. The Incas believed that Inti was the ancestor of their people, linking him with the Inca emperor who was known as the "Son of the Sun." From the early 1400s to the mid-1500s, the Inca empire included much of western South America.
In Greek mythology, Io was a young woman who was loved by Zeus, king of the gods. His attentions toward her aroused the jealousy of his wife, Hera *, and both deities used their powers in various ways to try to gain control over Io.
In Greek mythology, Iphigenia appears in legends about the Trojan War*. She was killed by her father, Agamemnon, leader of the Greek forces, in exchange for favorable wind from the gods.
In the ancient Near East, Ishtar was an important and widely worshiped mother goddess for many Semitic* peoples. The Sumerians* called her Inanna, and other groups of the Near East referred to her as Astarte.
The great mother goddess of ancient Egypt, Isis was the sister and wife of the god Osiris*. Together these two deities played a major role in many stories in Egyptian mythology, particularly in myths about rebirth and resurrection.
Itzamná was one of the most important deities of Mayan mythology. The ruler of the heavens and of day and night, he was often shown in Mayan art as a pleasant, toothless old man with a large nose.
Ivan's reputation had a great impact on Russian poetry, music, art, and legend. The character of Ivan appears in a number of legends, and his life and deeds have inspired poems, operas, and films.