Magna Mater: The Cult of Cybele in Ancient Rome

Originally, the Cybelean cult was brought to Rome during the time of the Second Punic War (218 -201 BCE). Introduction History verifies the importance of religion not only on a society’s development but also on its survival; in this respect the Romans were no different than other ancient civilizations. During the formative years of the[…]

The Cult of Athena in Ancient Greece

In Athens, the cult of Athena Polias was the most important religious faction. Much like the Vestal Virgins of Rome, the priestesses of Greek religion enjoyed a great many perks that other Greek women did not. In exchange for the commitment to their religious and civic responsibilities, they were often paid, given property, and most[…]

Ancient Greek Sanctuaries as Artistic Hubs

Greek sanctuaries were perennially lively venues, each with their idiosyncratic myths and rites. Introduction For the ancient Greeks, religion was inextricably tied to everyday life. Gods and many other supernatural beings could manifest anywhere, at any time, and often in unexpected forms. Yet even within such a boundless concept of religion, there were locations deemed[…]

Fratricide: The Mythology of Romulus and Remus and the Founding of Ancient Rome

There is no evidence concerning the historicity of the Romulus and Remus mythology. Introduction The Romulus and Remus legend is perhaps one of the most famous myths in all Roman mythology and one of the best-known myths of all time. The story of the twins is the foundation-myth of Ancient Rome and it was central[…]

The François Vase: Story Book of Ancient Greek Mythology

The neat labels of Greek text that accompany and identify many of the characters on the vase still help us understand its imagery today. Introduction 270 figures run, fight, and dance across the surface of the François Vase. While the decoration seems dense and busy to our modern eyes, an ancient viewer would have known[…]

Meet an Ushabti, an Ancient Egyptian Statuette Made for the Afterlife

What we know about this figure discovered in Neferibresaneith’s tomb. What’s an Ushtabi? Ushabtis are figurines that were designed to be placed in someone’s tomb. Ushabtis look like human figures that have been mummified, usually with their arms crossed over their chest. Some, like the Getty’s ushabti, were very carefully made, with detailed features, while[…]

Exploring ‘End Times’ Armageddon Mythology across Faiths

The term is often used in a generic sense to refer to any end of the world scenario. Introduction According to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Armageddon (from Ancient Greek: Ἁρμαγεδών Harmagedōn,[1][2] Late Latin: Armagedōn,[3] from Hebrew: הר מגידו‎ Har Megiddo) is the prophesied location of a gathering[…]

Medieval Christian Saints and Magical Charms as Protection from Animals

Saints were sometimes associated with protecting animals, particularly in magical texts or ‘charms’. St Francis of Assisi (1181/82–1225) is traditionally known as the patron saint of animals and the natural environment. During the Middle Ages, however, other saints were sometimes associated with protecting animals, particularly in magical texts or ‘charms’. One such charm is found[…]

Sex with Demons: A Belief That Runs Deep in Christian and Jewish Traditions

The earliest account of demon sex in Jewish and Christian traditions comes from the Book of Genesis. Introduction Houston physician and pastor Stella Immanuel – described as “spectacular” by Donald Trump for her promotion of unsubstantiated claims about anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a “cure” for COVID-19 – has some other, very unconventional views. As well[…]

Exploring Abrahamic Mythology since the Ancient World

In its broadest academic sense, the word “myth” simply means a traditional story. However, many restrict the term to sacred stories. Introduction Abrahamic mythology is the body of myths associated with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The term encompasses a broad variety of legends and stories, especially those considered sacred narratives. Mythological themes and elements occur[…]

Myth and Epic in the Ancient World

Exploring believed what and the effect literal belief in myths had on given social orders. Introduction Anthropologists and literary critics tend to read even sacred ancient literature in the manner of Homer’s and Virgil’s epics, that is, as fiction with historical elements. They don’t, however, always follow up with the implications of that. Mesopotamian myths[…]

The Sun-Cult in Ancient Egypt

The name of the new god in ordinary everyday parlance was pa Aton, “the Aton.” By Dr. Aylward M. BlackmanLate Special LecturerUniversity of Manchester It has often been maintained that the Aton-cult instituted by Oklmaton (Amenophis IV.) displays non-Egyptian features and is in a large measure the product of foreign influences. I hope, however, clearly[…]

Gods and Religious Practices in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greek religious practice was essentially conservative in nature and was based on time-honored observances By Colette Hemingway, Independent Scholar and Seán Hemingway, Department of Greek and Roman Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art The ancient Greeks worshipped many gods, each with a distinct personality and domain. Greek myths explained the origins of the gods[…]

Eridu Genesis: The Sumerian, and Oldest, Flood Story in Ancient Texts

It would appear in later works such as the Atrahasis, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and – most famously – the story of Noah and his ark. Introduction The Sumerian Flood Story (also known as the Eridu Genesis, Sumerian Creation Myth, Sumerian Deluge Myth) is the oldest Mesopotamian text relating the tale of the Great Flood[…]

The Five Gifts of Hathor: Ancient Egyptian Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood

Hathor was a multifaceted goddess, appealed to for a wide variety of needs, who provided many of the best aspects of life to humanity. Introduction The central cultural value of ancient Egypt was ma’at – harmony and balance – which maintained the order of the universe and the lives of the people. Keeping balance in one’s[…]

Tiamat: Ancient Mesopotamian Mother Goddess

The author of Enuma Elish drew on the earlier Sumerian goddesses, Nammu and Inanna, to create the goddess of chaos. Introduction Tiamat is the Mesopotamian goddess associated with primordial chaos and the salt sea best known from the Babylonian epic Enuma Elish. In all versions of the myth, following the original, Tiamat always symbolizes the[…]

Yggdrasil: The Sacred Ash Tree of Norse Mythology

Yggdrasil stands at the absolute center of the Norse cosmos. This article, Yggdrasil: The Sacred Ash Tree of Norse Mythology, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ With its branches in the heavens and its roots in the underworld, the Cosmic[…]

Eris: Chaos and Confusion in Ancient Greek Mythology

The most famous tale of Eris recounts her initiating the Trojan War by causing the Judgement of Paris. Introduction Eris is the Greek goddess of strife and discord. Her Roman equivalent is Discordia, which means “discord”. Eris’s Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Roman counterpart is Concordia.[1] Homer equated her with the war-goddess Enyo, whose Roman[…]

The Dragon in Ancient China

Dragons were one of the earliest creatures to appear in the tales and legends of ancient China. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Dragons appear in the mythology of many ancient cultures but nowhere else in the world was the creature quite so revered as in China. There, in marked contrast to other world mythologies, the dragon[…]

Ten Ancient Stories and the Geological Events That May Have Inspired Them

If you dig deep enough, you can find some truth to legends and creation stories. Introduction Myths have fed the imaginations and souls of humans for thousands of years. The vast majority of these tales are just stories people have handed down through the ages. But a few have roots in real geological events of[…]

Ancient Mesopotamian Cosmology and Mythology

Mesopotamian myths appear to have had a more practical purpose and were used to cure and prevent various physical ailments. Introduction In order to understand the place of myth in Mesopotamian culture, it is first necessary to give a general introduction to Mesopotamian religion. First, there is no single Mesopotamian ‘religion.’ The region known by[…]

Elektra: A Sense of Justice in Ancient Greek Mythology

Meet one of the greatest of all the characters in ancient Greek drama. Elektra’s Story To understand Elektra (also known as Electra), daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, you need to know that her family is cursed. Her story is tragic. Elektra’s father is Agamemnon and her mother is Clytemnestra. She has a brother, Orestes, and[…]

‘Risen from Foam’: Aphrodite, Ancient Greek Goddess of Love

The lure of Aphrodite still resonates in Western popular culture today. Introduction Aphrodite is the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality. She is primarily associated with selfish sexual desire and lust. Thus, it is not surprising that Aphrodite is characterized in many myths as vain, ill-tempered, and easily offended. She is also often[…]

Spells, Charms, Erotic Dolls: Love Magic in the Ancient Mediterranean

Erotic spells were a popular form of magic in ancient Greece and Rome. Ancient spells were often violent, brutal and without any sense of caution or remorse. It was a well-kept secret among historians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the practice of magic was widespread in the ancient Mediterranean. Historians wanted[…]

Investigating Homo Floresiensis and the Myth of the Ebu Gogo

According to folklore, such tiny, hairy people as her once roamed the tropical forests alongside modern humans. An ancient legend from the Indonesian island of Flores speaks of a mysterious, wild grandmother of the forest who eats everything: the ‘ebu gogo’. According to folklore, such tiny, hairy people as her once roamed the tropical forests[…]