Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About Mythology in General

What is "myth" or "mythology"?
What's the differences between myth and legend?
Myths in literature
Did you invent these stories?
Where did you get the materials?
Will you do anything on Chinese or Egyptian mythology?


About Using Timeless Myths

How do I know when something new or update is available?
How do I find a particular article in Timeless Myths? (eg. person, god or tale)
Example of finding a article through navigation
What this page NOT about...


About Assignment and Copyright

Can you help me with my homework? It's about....
I need your name for my assignment...
Can you send me pictures of ...?




What is "myth" or "mythology"?

Myth can usually be said to be a narrative of god or human with superhuman ability involved in events or circumstances that are extraordinary and unusual. Myths is often connected with supernatural or heroic endeavour. Myth usually set at unspecified time, but it is usually related to the distant past. Myth can be considered to be a traditional tale.

Mythology, by definition, is a collection or body of myths, as well as a study on myths.

Myth existed in many forms and shapes, and can have many types of subject matters. Myth are sometimes seen as tales that are fictional, since it make no attempt to be plausiable. Myth tends to tell of events that defy the laws of nature or beyond the ordinary experiences. Or myth can be used to explain natural phenomena, such as why it rain, where does the winds come from, or why the sun cross the sky, or why seasons do changes.

There are many types of narratives, such as fable, folktale and legend. These categories are different from myth, but the distinction between myth and other narratives are not always clear, since the other narratives can have mythical qualities or aspects. See What's the differences between myth and legend?

Myths can be found in every cultures.

Myths are very fluid. Meaning that myths would change over time, and it is usually shaped by different people in different generation. Therefore, myth will change and grow, from one time to another.

There are many types of myths, depending on the subject matters.

Mythology can usually be said to be tales told of different age, sometimes explaining the existence of the world and the human race, sometimes trying to explain the natural phenomena, other about the pantheon of gods and goddesses. There are also myths that retell the adventure of particular hero or heroine, or how the kingdom began and the families who ruled that kingdom. As it can be seen, myths may have different functions.

Myth on the deities and mankind are normally accounts that tell of how the world, gods, and mankind were created, as well as the relationship of gods and human. The myths probably started as a religion, where the people worshipped their gods. They were tranformed into myths, because man tried to explain the mysterious nature of life. Those myths concerning about the origin or creation of the world were known as the "Creation Myths".

The Creation Myths may also tried to explain the gods and human association with nature. For example, the Greek god Zeus was not only the sky god of thunder and lightning but he was thunder and lightning. Similarly, Poseidon was not only the great god of the sea, but he was actually the sea itself.

Human were also sometimes associated with natures. Example of this is the story of Greek god, Apollo and the beautiful maiden named Daphne. Apollo fell in love with Daphne and tried to seduce her. To escape from the god, Daphne was transformed into laurel tree. The name, Daphne, means "laurel" in Greek, not so much that the tree was named after her, as that she was into a tree and was the tree. Similarly, when the youth named Hyacinthus was transformed into a flower called hyacinth. Other popular metamorphoses was heroes or heroines, or beasts that was transformed into one of the many constellations in the sky, such as hero Perseus, or the giant crab killed by Heracles, that became the constellation Cancer. This myth is called transformation myth.

Another important category was the heroic myths. These existed in almost every cultures. They usually concerned with individual or group of people in various adventure to test their courage and strength to the limits. There are also myths of important or royal families finding new kingdom or making war upon their neighbour. I think this is called family myth. In this category, the tale may expanded over a generation or more. Sometimes the family myth have a heroic overtones, so the line between family and heroic myths may blurred.

The heroic and family myths may sometimes involved in tragedy and satires, depending on the author's mood or desire, and what he tried to achieve with tale.

However, some of the gods tends to be associated with abstract idea, such as law and order, art and music. Examples of this: Apollo was the god of prophecy and music; the Graces were goddesses of beauty; and Nemesis was the goddess of retribution.

Rulers and heroes are also enjoying popularity in myths. These tales were often told in narrative forms, such as in epics and sagas, in either verse or prose styles.

What's the differences between myth and legend?

"Legends" differed from "myths", in that legends may sometimes be based on historical facts or persons, that later become distorted over a period of time. Normally, legend tends to enlarge the figure to heroic proportion. Legend can also be confined to a particular time and place.

Myths tend to tell of fantastic tales of supernatural such as the gods and heroes with magical abilities. Myths make no attempts to prove it has any factual basis. (Doing so would tend to spoil the tales, anyway.)

However, the distinction between myth and legend tend to blur, due to the fact that tales can inherit both mythical and legendary aspects.

For me, I tend to leave the distinction of terms such "myth" and "legend", "fables" and "folktales", "epic" and "sagas", to the experts, since these definitions are vague and often imprecise.

Myths in literatures

There is one thing you must understand about myths and legends. Many myths (and legends) may originally come from oral tradition, before they were ever written down on paper.

Oral tradition was a mean of one person, known as a bard, storyteller, singer or whatever name they may used, passing what they know to another person by the words of mouth, from generation to generation. A century or more may pass before one person decided to write it down. It was common practice in illiterate societies, before they became literate.

The oral tradition usually composed in the form of song or poem. These bards either recite the poem or sang the song in front of an audience. The way the tale is told to the audience was just as important as what is told. A well told story by a bard could hold audience spellbound to their seats, as they listened how the story unfolds. Since, the audience are usually noble, most of their tales are usually heroic in style.

As a tale pass from generation to generation, the story may become more elaborated or refined, until the story was perfected. Well, perfect may be overstatement or exaggeration. The major problem with oral tradition is that tale can sometimes be inconsistent.

The Greeks, Romans, Celts, Germans, Scandinavians and other culture had used oral tradition before writing became common practice in their societies. The story of the Iliad and the Odyssey went through a long stage of oral tradition, before Homer produced his masterpiece by writing down. The same can be said about the Nibelungen legend, the Táin Bó Cúalnge and many other famous tales.

For example, most scholars believed that Homer was not the first to tell the stories of Achilles and Odysseus. The pre-Homeric bards sang the "Song of Achilles" and the "Song of Odysseus" to their audience, and they went through a long stage of oral tradition before Homer ever reproduced his masterpieces in writing, as we have them now. Most scholars are curious as to what the Song of Achilles or the Song of Odysseus would have been like? It would probably be different to what the Iliad and the Odyssey are like now (which is possible and logical).

Similarly, the Nibelungen legend, the Táin Bó Cúalnge and many other famous tales were probably told or sang in the same way, before they were ever written down. In fact, most of the Celtic myths were probably composed through oral traditions in 8th century, before it was written down in 12th to 16th century.


For the modern literate society, we rely heavily on the written works of myth and legend. Some of these myths had become classical masterpieces in literature. Among these great works is Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the plays of the three Athenian tragedians, Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's Metamorphoses. There was also Táin Bó Cúalnge, the Nibelungenlied, Chretien de Troyes' Arthurian romances and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.

Writing thing down has a sort of permanency. Yet these can be stolen, damaged (fragmented) or lost.

Unfortunately, not all the myth and legend had been successfully transmitted into literature. Quite a great deal have been lost.

By relying on the many different authors and sources, there's bound to be conflicting information. My job in Timeless Myths, is piecing them together.

Did you invent these stories?

No.

If I had actually written these myths, I would be writing books and making money out of this. I would also be a very rich and happy man.

Most of these myths were written centuries ago, coming from ancient and medieval literatures.

The whole purpose of Timeless Myths, is to retell many of the famous myths for the modern readers. You can also used Timeless Myths as a resource or reference. Personally, I preferred to read the actual translated literature than reading recount of the myth (which is what this page is).

My part of in mythology involved a lot of reading and researches. I may use one or more different sources of the myths. My job is to piece them together for the readers. What you find in Timeless Myths is a summarised version of the myths.

The ancient Greek and Roman authors wrote classical myths, between 9th-8th century BC and 3rd century AD. While Norse/Germanic, Celtic and the Arthurian legend were written during the Middle Ages, from the 8th century AD to the 16th century.

However, their own sources were often great deal older. They were mostly preserved by oral traditions, before it was ever written down.

Please note that I have been using the words "retelling" of myths, which means it is an summarised version of the myths. This is not the same as reworking and changing them, like some modern fiction novellists, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley ("Mist of Avalon") and Stephen Lawhead (Pendragon Cycle). Don't get me wrong, they are probably great writers, particular Bradley, though I have barely read them yet. These writers based their works on actual translations. However, their arrangement and composition are their own. Notice that I have used the word "based". They may change the material to suit their needs or the needs of the modern readers. After all they are novels.

Whereas in Timeless Myths, I have also used various ancient and medieval materials (translated, of course), but I have tried to summarise the sources that I have read. I have in no way, tried to change them like a novelist would. I have tried to keep all my works as accurate as possible.

Where did you get the materials?

Since I don't know how to read any language apart from English, I relied on most of my sources that had been translated into English from ancient and medieval texts.

What I used in Timeless Myths, come mostly from books I have actually bought and read. I have my own little library on literature. Most of these books are published by "Penguin Classics", "World's Classic" (Oxford), "Wordsworth", "Everyman", "Loeb Classical Library" (Harvand University Press), etc.

What I can't afford or what I can't find in the bookstore, I had to rely on the libraries. If you can't find them in local public libraries, then you have to resort to university or State libraries. The State Library in Victoria (in Melbourne, Australia) doesn't allow me to borrow these books, so I had to read them while I'm there.

I could not find the whole Book of Leinster (Celtic), and some of Arthurian tales in a bookshop. So with these books, I had to read them at the State Library.


Some of my materials come from the Internet, called Electronic Text. Some of these were extracted from books, and posted in the web site (available for free as "Public Domain"). My favourite is Online Medieval and Classical Library (OMACL):

http://omacl.org/

They have translated texts with various subjects, such as myths and history, from Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Norse sources.

Since some of you wanted to know my sources, I have recently compiled and published the Bibliography that can be found in the Bibliography. I have divided the bibliography into four sections, with a pages on Greek/Roman, Norse/German, Celtic (Irish/Welsh) and Arthurian.

At the bottom of all almost every pages, there is a link ("Bibliography") to my sources.

Please understand that I have not read all the literature, concerning myths or legends. Some of them has not being translated into English, while others I have no access to.

There are others I have read, but not the entire work. Example of this, is the Celtic myths in the Book of Leinster. It come in many volumes. I could only find this at the State Library. This State Library doesn't allow us to borrow books, so I had to read them while I am there. I have read a number of tales, including Tain Bo Cuilnge and others. I haven't had much time read all the tales in these volumes.

I have tried to buy books from bookstore, but the Book of Leinster is not available through a normal bookstore, and it is extremely expensive. (Over a thousand dollars (A$) for the entire collection of the Book of Leinster.)

Most of the myths you find in Timeless Myths come from reading these translation. I did not use any movies or TV shows to write these tales. So please don't bother asking about what I have seen on television or at the cinema. (See What this page NOT about...)

Will you do anything on Chinese or Egyptian mythology?

No.

Working on four different myths is hard enough for me. There's just too much works involved for one person.

Adding more myths from other cultures would just cause my brains to overload, and wear out my fingers from typing. Remember, I working on Timeless Myths without any help and pay. Timeless Myths is more like a hobby (and an overbloated one at that).

When I first planned to do Timeless Myths, I did not expect web page to be as large as it is today. And it's still growing.

Though, I am interested in other European myths and legends, as well as those in the Middle East and Egypt, I don't have any plan to do these. Even though, I am Chinese, I don't know anything about Chinese or any other Oriental myths.

After I put as much I can on the Arthurian Legends and the other myths, I may start on a new project. What this new project is, I won't know until I had, more or less, completed Timeless Myths.

How do I know when something new or update is available?

The best way to find out if there is a new or updated page or article available, is to check out the "What's New!" page.

This page list what information or story I have either added or modified.

Please note that I do not put a new page or article every day (or every week). If you are regular visitor to Timeless Myths, you should check out What's New!, every two or three weeks.

How do I find a particular article (eg. person, god or tale) in Timeless Myths?

One of the most common questions I receive by e-mails is when readers ask for a certain information or story from myths. "How do I find it?"

There are several ways of finding a specific page or article.


First Method

The first method involved in navigating through several links in the menu and index. Each menu page has button link.

The way I structured the Timeless Myths is that I have divided the website into branches, categories and topics, like a tree. The branches can be thought as Classical, Norses, Celtic myths, etc. By clicking on one of the links on this page, another page will appear in your browser, that has menu and buttons.

Each of these pages will have a menu with buttons. They have been divided into categories, and the links to these categories look like buttons. The buttons are actually links to various pages (categories), such as "Pantheon", "Heroic Age", etc, found in the Classical Myths section.

The category will also have menu and buttons (links) to topic such as the "Argonauts", "Trojan War", etc, found in the page called Heroic Age.

Note that each myths has different looking button images. Below I have the images of the button found in Greek/Roman, Norse, Celtic and Arthurian myths.

 
Classical button:
Norse button:
Celtic button:
Arthurian button:

At the top of each of these topics (pages), you will find the index to specific articles or episodes in a story.

An example of finding a article through navigation (the first method) is found in the next "Frequently Asked Question". You can go to this example by clicking here.

Unfortunately, the index are not exhaustive, to list all the deities, heroes or other characters. Actually, I never meant to provide an exhaustive index, but I realised that this can be quite frustrating when they can't find something you want. That's why there is a second method of finding article.


Second Method

The second method of finding the right article is using the search engine from BeSeen's MySearch.

The search engine can be found in most pages containing menu of buttons. Underneath the menu is a grey box that allow you type in a name or two, then press the "GO!" button.

The search engine looks like this:



If there are any matches, then it will list the "Search Results". Then you select any of the links from the search results.

If none of these results satisfy you or it could not find any name of the name you have typed, then just click on "BACK" button on your browser.

Example of finding a article through navigation (first method)

To find the Greek god "Apollo", you will have to follow these steps.

You have to have to be in the main page of "Classical Mythology" branch. There are four categories (sections) in the Greek mythology. The next step is selecting the right category (section). All information about gods and goddesses can be found in the Pantheon section. By clicking on the large blue button labelled "Pantheon", you will bring up another page containing a menu.

The Pantheon page has another menu with large blue buttons. I have divided the all the gods and goddesses into several groups. Since "Apollo" is an Olympian deity, you should select "Olympians" button. This will bring up a page containing information about the Olympian gods.

Near the top of the Olympians page, is the index that lists the names (links) of all the Olympian gods and goddesses (normal hyperlink with coloured underlined text that looks like this). Select the link (Apollo) with your mouse, will take you to article about Apollo.

What this page is NOT about...

First of all, Timeless Myths doesn't contain translation of the myth or legend. However, I did read and use translation to write them. Timeless Myths is about retelling these myths in my own way. I had tried to be accurate with my detail, but at the same time trying to keep it as brief as possible.


Secondly, I will not try to retell every single myths. It is difficult for me to put all the tales on the home page. I will mainly concentrate on the more popular myths than the obscure myth.


Last of all, Timeless Myths has nothing to do with any movies or TV shows. Movies like "Excalibur" and "Clash of the Titans" or television shows like, "Hercules: the Legendary Journey" and "Xena: Warrior Princess". This is not a fan club for these shows or any other movies.

If you want to compare these shows with the real myths, that's fine by me. Just don't expect me to answer questions relating to these shows and movies. Nor do I have any collection pictures, movie clips, or sounds of Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) or Lucy Lawless (Xena).

Speaking of the "Excalibur" movie, don't bother asking me what the title or composer of that theme in the soundtrack. I don't know.

I have nothing against them as entertainment values, but they are hardly accurate or faithful to the sources.

Take the "Clash of the Titans" for example. The real hero Perseus never rode any winged horse named Pegasus. Pegasus belonged to the hero named Bellerophon. However, Perseus did fly, because he was given a pair of winged sandals like the one that belonged to the god Hermes (Mercury).

The film industries never tried to fully follow the myths. They even make changes to scenes and plots from contemporary novels, which the movies are based on.


Can you help me with my homework? It's about....

I have many e-mails, particularly students, wanting me to help them homework or assignments.

I don't mind helping you find the right materials or direct you to appropriate book or provide you with link on my pages or someone else's websites who may have the information.

I will even briefly tell you of any tale that you may not find on my page. That is, if I am familiar with it.

What I won't do, is write your paper for you nor will I do the researches that you really should be doing yourself.

If I should not be able to help you, nor can I recommend any resources (eg books, websites, etc), then your last option is to try subscribing to the newsgroup.

Newsgroup are useful way to find information about subjects. Or you need to do is post your message on a specific subject. There are lot of people who are willing to help you with any sort of question. People can access the newsgroup from the servers on your schools, universities or ISPs (Internet Services Providers). Some Newsgroup can be accessed on the web itself.

I have listed three newsgroup on my Related Sites.

I probably should also tell you that I don't check my e-mails, every day. I only check my e-mails 3 to 4 times a week. I like to apologise if I don't answer you in time.

I need your name for my assignment...

Here is another common question I receive regarding homework: "What is your name?"

An important part of doing homework is listing where you got your materials or sources. If you read from a book, magazine, newspaper or a web page, I really recommend that you include them in your bibliography or note (or footnote). Particularly if you intend to copy a sentence or passage of texts on your own papers.

With a book, you need to list the title, author, possibly the publisher and the year it was published in your bibliography. See my own bibiography on Greek myths as a example.

You have to do a similar thing when you are quoting from web pages.

So if you are using materials from Timeless Myths, then must list my name, the title, the name of website and the URL address.

To answer your question my name is Jimmy Joe. (I am not joking. My family name is "Joe"). My name is listed on the bottom of every page, with the copyright information.

An example of listing my website in your Bibliography, then you will write something like this:

  Timeless Myths
http://www.timelessmyths.com/
written by Jimmy Joe

Or if you used a particular mythology, like Greek mythology, then you would probably have something like this in your Bibliography:

  Timeless Myths (Classical Mythology)
http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/index.html
written by Jimmy Joe

Or if you want to be even more specific, like a page on Jason and the Argonauts, then it may have to list the title as well. Your bibliography may look this:

  The Argonauts
http://www.timelessmyths.com/argonauts.html
from Timeless Myths (Classical Mythology)
written by Jimmy Joe

How detailed you do your bibliography, really depends on you.

I had listed my own sources in four different pages; one for each mythology (eg. Classical, Norse, Celtic and Arthurian pages), even though I didn't directly copy these works.

The myths and information in Timeless Myths is copytight. You may use as a guide, reference or resouce for educational purposes or personal uses. If you copy a sentences or paragraphs, place them within quotes it and indicate the sources. If you intends to reduplicate the document, you must also indicate the sources in bibliography or in the footnote. The documents in Timeless Myths must not be used for commercial purposes, because you will not get permission.

See the Copyright Notices for more information about guidelines on copyright.

The only things that are not copyright of Timeless Myths are the images of drawings, paintings, illustrations and statues from past artists. These belonged to the artists, publishers, art galleries, museums and private collectors.

Only some of buttons and a few drawings were done by me.

Can you send me pictures of ...?

I had often received e-mails from people, asking me to send picture about this myth or that. Pictures or images, such as photos, paintings and illustrations.

I understand that I have very little pictures on my web pages compare to other web site. Those images you find on my site, I have tried to place them in article of appropriate subject.

My object of this web site called Timeless Myths was to retell a myth and legend. The truth is that I've never had intention of turning this web site into an art gallery full of images.

If I don't have image you are looking for on my home page, then I don't have them at all. I like to apologise for not being able send you any image that I don't have.

There were other reasons for not putting too many images.

If there are too many images on a page, they will take quite a long time to load from my server to your browser, and slow down traffic between the server and browers, considerably. Unless, of course, you are fortunate enough to have broadband connection. Most of my pages contained long tales and a few images; this may take a while to load.

Another reason, why I don't have so many images, its because I don't always have access to a scanner. Most of the images you would find on my pages come from scanning books and magazines, while I was still studying at my university. Since I have graduated and no longer a student there, I haven't been able to scan any more pictures.

My suggestion is either try the Newsgroup on mythology or used one of the search engines or directory portals, like Open Directory, Yahoo! AltaVista, etc. Arts in mythology can usually be found in the Mythology category (probably under Humanities or Society and Culture).

For example, under one of these search engines, go to the "Humanities | Mythology and Folklore | Mythology | Greek Myths | Arts in Greek Myths" category. Note that each search engine or directory portal would have mythology in different category.







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