Forests play a prominent role in many folktales and legends. In these dark, mysterious places, heroes can lose their way, face unexpected challenges, and stumble on hidden secrets.
Tricksters are among the most entertaining characters in world mythology. Usually male, they delight in breaking rules, boasting, and playing tricks on both humans and gods.
The legend of Tristan and Isolde is the tragic tale of two lovers fated to share a forbidden but undying love. Scholars of mythology believe that the legend originated in Brittany, in western France.
medieval relating to the Middle Ages in Europe, a period from about A.D.
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was a legendary ten-year conflict in which Greek warriors laid siege to Troy, a city on the northwestern coast of Asia Minor*. Homer's* great epic the Iliad describes the activities of gods, goddesses, and human heroes during the final year of the war.
Trolls were creatures in Norse* myth and legend who became part of the folklore of Scandinavia and northern Europe. Generally trolls were thought to be evil and dangerous, although sometimes they interacted peacefully with people.
As two children born on the same day to the same mother, twins have a unique sense of identity They have more in common with one another than any two ordinary people, especially if they are identical twins. Yet twins are also separate beings who may be very different in character.
In Norse* mythology, Tyr was worshiped as a god of war, justice, and order. One of his roles was to guarantee that contracts and oaths were not broken.
The Greek hero Odysseus* was known to the Romans as Ulixes, which became Ulysses in English. This name has been used in English translations of Homer's* Iliad and Odyssey since the l600s and in other literature based on the life of Odysseus.
From all parts of the world come myths and legends about the underworld, a mysterious and shadowy place beyond ordinary human experience. The underworld is the realm of the dead, the destination of human souls in the afterlife.
The word unicorn comes from the Latin for "one-horned" and refers to an imaginary beast that appears in the legends of China, India, Mesopotamia*, and Europe. Since medieval times the unicorn has often been portrayed as a horse with a single horn growing from its forehead.
The texts of the Upanishads are said to hold the "hidden meanings" of the religious practices and ideas presented in the Vedas, an older collection of sacred texts. Hindu beliefs based on the Upanishads are known as the Vedanta, which means that they came after the Vedas.
Uranus, who represented the sky, was one of the original deities of Greek mythology. He was the son of Gaia, the earth, who also became his wife.
In the mythology of the ancient Near East, Utnapishtim was the heroic survivor of a great flood. His story, told in the Babylonian epic Gilgamesh, is similar to the biblical account of Noah and the Ark.
According to tradition, St. Valentine is the patron saint of courtship, travelers, and young people.
In Norse* mythology, Valhalla—which means hall of the dead—was the great hall of the god Odin*. It was located in Asgard, the home of the gods of war and the sky.
Female spirits in Norse* mythology, the Valkyries were servants of the god Odin*. Originally, the Valkyries were fierce creatures who took part in battles and devoured bodies of the dead on battlefields.
In European folklore, a vampire is a corpse that rises from the grave and sucks blood from the living. According to some accounts, the dead become vampires because demons or evil spirits enter their bodies.
One of the oldest gods in Hindu mythology, Varuna was originally a creator and the ruler of the sky. In the Vedas—the sacred texts of ancient India—he was a supreme, all-knowing deity who enforced the laws of the universe and human morality.
Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, played an important role in Roman mythology. She began as a minor agricultural deity of ancient Italy associated with gardens and fields.
In Roman mythology, Vesta was the virgin goddess of the hearth. Worshiped in every Roman household, Vesta served as a symbol of home and family as well as the guardian of the sacred fire in her temples.
Early Roles. In the Vedas, a collection of ancient sacred texts that includes the Rig-Veda, Vishnu is only a minor god.
An ancient god of fire in Roman mythology, Vulcan is the counterpart of the Greek god Hephaestus, the god of fire and patron of metalwork and crafts. The tales about Vulcan, who is sometimes called Mulciber (the smelter), are all based on Greek myths about Hephaestus.
In Native American mythology, Wakan Tanka (great mystery) is the supreme being and creator of the Lakota Sioux. Sometimes called Great Spirit, he is similar to the supreme beings found in the myths of many other North American peoples.
In Australian mythology, the Wandjina are ancestral beings who came out of the sea. According to the Aborigines of the western Kimberleys region, these beings created features of the landscape and were then absorbed into the walls of rock formations.