The Encyclopedia of Mythology

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This edition is pubiished by Hermes House Hermes House is an imprint of Anness Publishing Ltd Hermes House, 88-89 Blackfriars Road London SEI BFIA tel 020 7 401 2077 ; fax 020 7633 9499 [email protected] @ AnnessPublishlng Ltd 1996, 2006 Al1 nghts reserved No part of this publication may be reproduced,stored in a retnevalsystem,or transmirted in any way or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopl'rng, recording or otherwise,wrthout the prior written permission of the copyright holder A CIP catalogue record is available from the British Library Publisher: Joanna Lorenz Editorial Director: Helen Sudell Project Ediror: Belinda Wilkinson Designer: Nigel Soper, Millions Design lllusrrators: James Alexander, Nick Beale, Glenn Steward Printed and bound in China Frontispiece: The ForglngoJthe Sampoby A GallenIGllela This page: TheRapeoJGanymedeby PeterPaul Rubens

Author's Note The entries in this encvcloDedia are all Iisted alphabetically.Wft.r. more than one name exists for a character the entry is listed under the name used in the original country of origin flor that particular myth. Names in iralic caDitalletters indicate that rhat name has an individual entry. Special feature spreads examine specific mythological themes in more detail. lf a characteris included in a specialfeature spreadit is noted at the end of their indMdual entry.



CInSSICAL MYTHOLoGY B Introduction l0 L o v e r s o f .Z e u s 2 0 Heroes 30 Oracles and Prophecies 40 Voyagers 50 Monsters and Fabulous Beasts58 Forcesof Nature 6B G i a nt s 7 6 Founders B4

CeLTIC MyTHoLOGY 9O Introduction 92 Celtic Otherworlds 104 S a g e sa n d S e e r s l l 4 Magic and Enchantment I24 Wondrous Cauldrons 132 Celtic Romance 140 Single Combat L48 Heroic Quests 156 Fabulous Voyages 164

NoRSE MyTHOLOGY L72 Introduction I74 Nature Spirits 186 T r e a s u r e sa n d T a l i s m a n s 1 9 6 Norse Heroes 204 T h e V a l k y ri e s 2I2 Sorcery and Sp eIIs 220 Tragic Lovers 228 Rings of Power 236 Ragnarok 24+

P r c r u R EA c r x o w L E D G E M E N r2s 5 2

Ixnnx 2 53



successfu\ confronted the Minotaur on Crete, but


contains the three ourstanding traditions of Europe -

later abandoned his helper, the Cretan princess

Greek, Celtic and Norse. They form

Theseus forgot the agreement made with his father

the core of European mythological thought, rhe

abour changing the sail of his ship from black if he

early ideas and notions which underlie our

escaped death himself. As a result of this moment

present-day consciousness. For the stories related

of carelessness,Theseus' father committed suicide

in Greek, Celtic and Germanic myths touch upon

by leaping from the Athenian acropolis when rhe

the fundamental issues of existence. They reveal

black sail was sighred. So in lreiand rhe inability of

Ariadne. Full of his success against the bull-man,

the power of love, with its accompanying anxiery Cuchulainn ro srop and think for a moment led to and jealousy; the conflict between the generarions, his hlling of Conlai, his own son by the Amazon the old and rhe new; the violence of men,

Aoifa. In Norse myth, however, it is the pride of

especially on the battlefield or in single combat;

the gods or their opponents, the frost giants,

the mischief of the trouble-maker, bored by rhe

which causes disasters ro occur. Unlike the Greel. t \ t l [ ) ] l t ' t . t r l . l . t l t h r ' ( f L l rl t l \ l ( ) l l t l l t ' r r l l t t l l . l i l t ' t t ' i \ t . ' . ti l l t l l l t r t r c l R Dn,.. ' 'I'Ef


Srn THRAcq

o Rour

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r i i r r t h f l , , r i t ' i l1 t r ' , t lI ll l t ' - P r ' . i l t l l r t t : l t l l ( i - t l t : t:

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Mrnuru .tNo Nnrun representopposite polesoJthe CelticothemvorWMalin, in the tradition of Celtic druids, guided his hing Arthur, with wrsdomand Jorestght;while Nimue,his enchantress,symbolked the threateningpwm oJthe othenvorld.(THrBrcuruNcon MERLTN By E BURNEJoNES, cAwAs,




figure is still uncerrain. It is quire likely rhat he may have been a successful warlord in the confused and violent period following the withdrawal of the Roman legions from Britain around 4I0 eo That his myth blames the ultimate vicrory won by rhe Anglo-Saxon invaders on civil strife perhaps reflects a kemel of truth. The Celtic peoples were norGrious for only rarely combining against an extemal, common foe, so deep-rooted were their own birrer quarrels. Thus British chivalry came ro an end with Kirg Arthur's disastrous bartle againsr his nephew Modred near Salisbury. Hardly a knighr survived and the Kirg himselfwas badlywounded

His depar-

ture to Avalon, accompanied by three mysterious ladies, gave rise ro rhe idea of his undeath. In an otherworld, ir was believed, Kirg Arthur lingered, awaiting reincamadon as a national saviour.

ARrnunandhisChristian Fellowship of l{nights probabty deived warlordArthur,who fromtheearlierWelsh journqedto theothenvorldwthhiswarband in search oJa wondrous cauldronHere,theKnights oftheRoundTable erpenence theGrailvision for thefirsttime,amiddivine light and splendour. (MeruuscrurrmusrurroN, c 1470 )






Annnfn, which probably means who was unable ro ler go of rhe "doer of deeds", was, in Irish horse's tail Abarta took them to mythology, a mischievous god He the otherworld, for that was rhe was one of the TUATTIADEDANANN, reason for his appearanceon earth who ruled lreland undl rhey were- This wonderful land was rhoughr overcome by the Milesians,warlike by the Celts to be the home of the invaders from Spain Driyen under- gods and goddesses,and the place ground, Abana and his kin appear where souls briefly resred before in the Irish sagasmore like heroic rebirth The rest of the Fianna. or mortals rhan gods, although in the Fenians, acquired a magic ship to tale of his trick on the Fenian war- give chase to Abarra's sreed.The riors there remains a srong trace of best tracker among rhem was Finn his original dMniry MacCool'sassismntFoltor He sucAbana offered himself as a ser- ceededin navrgadnga course to the vanr ro FINNMACCOOL, one of the otherworld for the rescue expediforemosr Irish heroes,and heredi- tion There Abana was compelled tary leader of the FmNNA Abarn to releasethe prisoners aswell as to tried ro serveFinn MacCool short- run back to Ireland himself holding ly after the hero had succeededhis on to the horse'stail Honour being father as leader of rhe band. As a sarisfied,rhe Fenians agreed ro a gesture of goodwill, rricky Abarta peacewirh Abarta presented the Fianna wirh a wrld, grey horse Only afrer great effort AILILL, rvho was the brother of did the warriors manage to ger a Eochaidh, a High Kirg of lreland, bridle on the animal, and rhen it refused to move even one hoof AINE, Irishgoddess oJloveandJertility, when mounted It was not until wasworshipped onMidsummer Evebythe fourteen warriors had climbed localpeople wholit up herhiII withtorches on its powerful back rhat it would Whensomeglrlsstayedlate onenight,Aine stir at all Once Abana had appeared amongthem andra,ealed thehill mounted behind rhem, it broke tobealivewrthfaines, whichwereonly immediarely inro a gallop, even visible throughher magc"ing pulling along a fifteenrh warrior (lLrusrnerroruByNtcK Brew., 1995)

fell in love wirh his brother's wife, E7AIN,who was actually a goddess, one of the TUATHADE DANANN Etain had been the second wife of the proud and handsome god MIDIR,who lived under a mound in the middle of Ireland She had been rebom as a human as punishment for her great jealousy of Midir's first wife. Fuamnach When High Kirg Eochaidh was looking for a bride himself, he heard reporrs that described Etain as rhe fairest maiden in Ireland So he broughr the beautiful former goddessback to his palace atTara, rhe capital There Eochaidh and Etain enjoyed a happy married life Ailill, however, gradually succumbed to a terrible wasring diseasebecauseof his unrequited passion for rhe new queen Etain was steadfast in her love for Eochaidh, but she also AI\4AETHON, thoughtheJruitfulrustic godoJagnculture, wasnotalwayshelpful ItwasAmaethon thatrobbedArawn, thereby prwohingtheBattleof Trees, ond, whorefused to helphard-pressed Culhwch toplough,sowandreapahill in a dq - o tashinhis questto win Olwat (lr-r-usrRqnoru ByNrcK Buu,


felt sorry/ for ailing Ailill and eventuallypromised ro sadsfyhis desire as the only means of saving his life It was arranged thar rhey should meet secretly in a house outside Tara However,Ailill never came because he fell into an enchantedsleep Atut-t- MnC MAIA, according to some versions of the myth, was the hng of Connacht and husband of the warrior-queen MEDB.He is genera\ ponrayed as a ratherweak characterwho was entirely under the influence of Medb It was due ro her taundng that he agreedro go to war with Ulster over the Brown Bull of Cuailgne.Ailill finally met his death at the hands of coNALt, who killed him in revenge for the death of rrRcus MACRITH AINE was rhe Irish goddess of love and ferdlity She was the daughter of Eogabail,who was the foster son of the Manx sea god MANANNANMAC LIR HeT main responsibilty was to encourage human love, although one mortal Iover of hers, Kirg Arllil OIom of Munster, paid for his passionate audacity with his life When he



brothers plunged the country once again into dreadful srife The fighting came to an end only with the death of Eber. Amairgen then installed Eremon as High King of Ireland atTara Even then conflicts still occurred becauseof the ceaseIessrivalnes between lesserrulers. AUNONTNS


was a Welsh otherANNWN world that was an idyllic land of peace and plenty. ln Annwn there was a fountain of sweet wine and a cauldron of rebirth, which, it would seem, was the basis of the medieval Grail myth ln one Welsh tradition, ARTHURlost most of his warriors in a disastrous attempt to seize this magic cauldron. The lord of Annwn was the grey-cladAMwN, wirh whom the Dyfed chieftain PWYLLagreed to exchange shapes and responsibilities for ayear Arawn had a pack of hounds, the Celtic "hounds of hell", which were believed to fly at night in pursuit of human souls (See AISOCELTICOTHERWORLDS; WONDROUS CAULDRONS) attempted to force himself upon magically transformed rrees inro Aine and rape her, she slew him warriors to fight in the battle with her magic. sometimes known Aine's worship was alwaysasso- AUAInCEN, ciated in lreland with agriculture, as Amergin, was one of the first because,as a goddessof fertility, Irish druids, the ancient priests in she had command over crops and Celtic lands He came to Ireland animals. Even as late as the last with the Milesians Thesechildren century, celebrationswere still held of ulrrsluS, or Mil, who was a in her honour on Midsummer Eve leader of the Celts who lived in at l(nockainy, or "Aine's hill", in Spain, were believed to be the ancestorsof the present-dayIrish County Ketry Having defeated the divine rulers of (whose name lreland, the ru,trqADE DANANN, AueerHoN the Milesians could not agreeon means "labourer" or "ploughman") was the god of agnculture and the which of their leaders should be hng Two sons of Mil, Eremon and son of the Welsh goddess ool contested the throne and for Amaethon was said to have EBER, stolen fromAMWN, the lord of the the sake of peace the island was orherworld euruwru, a hound, a divided into rwo kingdoms, one in deer and a bird, and as a result the north, the other in the south. causedthe Cad Goddeu or Battle However, peacewas not to surive of Trees It was in this battle rhat for long, and renewed fighting Amaethon's brother, GWYDION, between the followers of the two

AJVTAIRGEN(above)was one oJthe Jirst druidsin lreland He possessedboth spiitual and political authoity, and pronouncedthe first judgement in the land,decidingwhowouldbe thefirsthing.

aWelshotherworld, ANNWN (below), andrest,filled wasa landoJJruitfulness Annwn's maglcal wtththesongoJbirds healed guarded byninemaidens, cauldron, thedeadto lfe A thesichandrestored

with a mysticalpoem in the Book of

recurrent motifin Celticmyth,magic cauldrons Jeaturein thetalesoJBranand

crtoxA^roN' Invasions (ILLusrn )


An inspiredshamanand seer,heis credited




1995 )




who wrote down the trish sagas tried to legidmize rhe binh by making Boann the wife of Dagda, but it is obvrous that Aonghus wzls a divine love-child Aonghus was handsome and fourbirds alwap hovered abovehis head which were said ro represenr kisses. Birds also feature in his courtship of CAER,a girl of divine descentwho came from Connacht and lived as a swan Her father, ANU, a greatearthgoddess andmotheroJ what Aoifa loved best and Scathach Ethal, was one of the TUATHADE all theheroes, washnown asthe"lasting told him that above ali else she DANANN He seems to have been one"andalsoasDana,mother oJthe treasured her chanot At first the reluctant about the marriageuntil TuathaDeDanannIn Munster thereare combat went as expectedin Aoifa's Aonghus' father, Dagda, made twohillshnownasthePapsof Anubecause favour, but Cuchuiainn distracted Ethal his prisoner lt was finally thq rymbolized herbreasts(tuusrRarroru ny her attention at a critical moment agreed that Aonghus could marryt Grrruli SrEwanD, 1995 ) by calling out that her chanot horse Caer provrded he could identi$r her was in trouble Afterwards, Aoifa and she was willing to be his bride ANU, sometrmescalled Danu or became Cuchulainn's lover and On the feastof Samhain,Aonghus Dana, was the mother goddess of bore him a son named cotvl,ql It found Caer swimming on a lake Irish myrhology The TUATHADE was, however, the boy's fate to be wich a hundred and fifty other DANANN("the people of the god- killed by his own father swans He instantly recognizedher dess Dana") were her divine chiland she agreed to marry him dren and the gods and goddesses AONCHUS was the Insh love An interesting tale rhat has who ruled Ireland prior to the god His father was DAGDA,the attached imelf to Aonghus conamval of the Milesians h is quite father of the gods and the protector cerns his foster-son DIARMIIIDLtA possibie that the monks who wrote of druids, and his mother was the DUIBHNE, or "Diarmuid of the Love down the lnsh sagasfrom the fifth water goddess BOANN Rarherlike Spot" This attractiveyoung man century onwards underplayed the 7-eus,Dugdr deceivedBoann's hus- received a magic love spot on his original role o[ goddessesin rheir band and lay with her The monks forehead from a mysterious grrl one compilations Certainly, the srories they recorded show us a man's world, a place where warriors seem most at home The cult of Anu was especiallyassociatedwith Munster, and two hrils in County Kerry are still known as Da Chich Anann ("The Papsof Anu") AOIFA, somerimes known as Aoife, was the daughter of ArdGreimne and an lrish warriorprincess in the Land of Shadows, an otherworld kingdom Her sisrer SCATHACHinstrucred rhe Ulster hero CIJCHUIAINNin the arts of war But when the sisterswent ro war Scathach was frightened ro take the hero with her into battle in case Aoifa killed him Undeterred by Aoifa's repurarion as a fighter, Cuchulainn challenged her ro single combat. Beforethe fighr rook place, Cuchulainn askedScarhach


AMWN, hingof Annwn,stidesthrough hisenchanted accompaniedby his Jorest theCeltic"houndsoJhell", Jlyinghounds, oneof whosedutieswasto escortsoukon tharjoumeyto theothaworldLihesome otherfairy creatures, thq appearwhite withredears,a tohenoJtheothenvorld (luusrnenor.r ByJAMEs Alrx,cNorn, 1995 ) night dunng a hunt. From rhen on, no woman could everseeDiarmuid without loving him. This included GMINNE, the princess who had been promised by the High King of lreland to his Fenian commander FINNMACCOOLAonghus savedthe Iovers from the great warrior's wrath, but he could not protect Diarmuid from the fate given to him at birth by the gods, that he should be killed by a magic boar Nevertheless, Aonghus brought Diarmuid's body back to his own palace at New Grange, on the bank of the RiverBoyne,where he breathed a new soul into it so that he could talk to his foster-son was rhe ruler of the AnAWN Welsh otherworld aNruwru,which was a paradiseof peaceand plenty The Dyfed chiefrain PuvLLbecame friends with Arawn and was allowed to claim in his title some authority over the otherworld The two rulers met by chance While out hunting, Pwyll encounrereda strange pack of hounds chasinga stag, so he drove them off and ser AOIFA,a wanior-pnncess JromtheInnd oJShadows, sparswithheryoungson, Conlai,instructinghim in themartialarts Thetraditionofwamor-womenwds stronginCelticsociery, where women bore arrnsaslateasAD700,andwhere the women fiercestgodswereoJten (Itrusraanov


1995 )



AONGHUS AeJ), an engagtnggodoJ Iwe and courtesy,a Celtic equivalatt oJ Eros,oppearsin thisJoncijul portrayal as a charming, iJ somewhatwhimsical character,who calms thefoamy seawith his coD oFLovEAND Jairy maglc (Aor.rcnus, COURTESY, PUTTING A SPELL OF SUN,IMERCAIU THE SEA ByJoHN DUNCAN, cANVAs, orrntl,


1908 )

an armyoJsavage ART(above)conJronts glanttoadsonhispeilous andvenomous journq through in theLandofWonder, of DelbchaunA taboolaidon the search Becuma, younghero bythejealousgoddess tofind andwinthelovely forcedhim parents byherwiched glrlimpnsoned (luusrnerroru c 1900 BvARTHUR R4cKHAM, ) than she gave birth to DYI4N and rtrtL GwYDION,Arianrhod's brother, immediately took charge of Lleu and brought him up, but this did not prevent Arianrhod placing a seriesof raboos upon him, including the stricture that he was to have no wrfe in the human race

his own hounds on to the prey Just as the stag was about to fall, a grey-clad figure appeared and rebuked h^ryll for rhis discourtesy in the field. It was Arawn. In order to placate Arawn and to gain his friendship, Pwyll accepted a proposal that he should exchange forms with him for ayear and then tlayArao*'s enemy, Havgan.ltwas also agreed that hryll would share the bed of Arawn's queen for the

same period of time, but without making love to her Arawn wamed Pwyll that he must hll Havgan by a single blow, for if struck a second time he instantly revived. When Pwyll and Havgan fought, the Welsh chieftain dealt him a fatal blow and ignored Havgan'splea to finish him offwith another strike. As a result of this service, Arawn and Pwyll became closeallies and Dyfed prospered.

was the daughter ArueNnnOD of the Welsh goddess DoN and niece of MArH, king of Gwynedd. Marh could sleep only if his feet wereheld in avirgin's lap, andwhen Goewin, the virgin who usually acted this part for him was raped by his nephew Gilvaethwy, it was suggestedthat Ananrhod should mke her place. To test her purity fuianrhod had to step over Math's wand No sooner had she done so

ART, in Irish mythology, was the son of Conn of the Hundred Battles.In one myth, Conn's jealous mistress, the goddess Becuma Cneisgel,contrived to send Art off on a perilous journey through the Land of Wonder in search of Delbchaem ("Fair Shape") After facing untold dangers,he managed to find and rescue Delbchaem Art's son by another woman was ART Arr was hlled by C)PJ\LACMAC the rebel Lugaide Mac Con in the battle of Moy Muchruinne




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