Mythology in a Click:
The Encyclopedia Mythica
Reviewed by Ann Kuykendall
World mythology is a big subject, but also a
rich one for anyone interested in adding a touch of the fantastical to their
writing. However, it doesn't have to be wild beasts with six legs and
super-strong men. Mythology also gives archetypes and stories that can be
adapted into a non-fantasy setting, and there is a great many to choose
from--all around the world, mythology has vastly different elements, and also
consistent elements that appear in nearly all civilizations.
With thousands upon thousands of figures, gods,
events, and monsters in the global realm of mythology, where can a writer
start? The Encyclopedia Mythica is a brilliant jumping point for anyone who
wishes to dabble in legends and lore, but find that they may not have the time
to read through volumes of books on the subject. (Or, for that matter, aren't
sure what books and subjects they want to start with!)
The Encyclopedia Mythica totes itself as "an
encyclopedia on mythology, folklore and legends." It boasts over 6100 articles
on various subjects from heroes, to goddesses, to items, and even some events.
In addition to articles, the site also hosts some images of the mythological, a
few online versions of older texts, and supplementary links to off-site pages
giving more information about the subject at hand.
The Encyclopedia Mythica features articles
divided into the following sections:
The Encyclopedia Mythica has information on
mythology from the following geographical areas: Africa, the Americas, Asia,
Europe, the Middle East and Oceania. Once you have selected your geographical
region and the particular culture/area you want information on, a convenient
frame appears to the side with all of the relevant articles, listed in
alphabetical order. The articles range from a single sentence to multiple
pages. Small illustrations and photographs are often provided when appropriate,
and key words and references to other articles are linked in the text.
The mythology area focuses on figures and
events, rather than on actual stories. In this section, for example, you will
not find an exhaustive account of Hesiod's Theogany, Homer's Iliad,
or Ovid's Metamorphosis, but you will find information on the gods and
stories mentioned within them.
The typical and most well-known areas of
mythology, such as the Classical, are present. However, the Encyclopedia
Mythica goes much further. There are articles available on lesser known
mythologies, such as that of the Basque region in Europe, Korea in Asia,
Aboriginal and Polynesian mythology in Oceania, African mythology, and the
legends of South and North America. In addition, they also have a section for
those cultures which have no yet been pigeon-holed into the larger categories,
including the Hittites and Madagascar.
The Folklore section has four main areas. The
first is a series of articles about the people, places and things of Arthurian
Legend, as well as a handy introduction. The next is called "folklore" and has
international information on things such as spirits, ghosts, demons, and
"creatures from cryptozoology". The third section covers folktales and has
stories from various regions of the world. The last section focuses on
Classical heroes and monsters from the Ancient Greek world.
Bestiaries and Heroes
These two areas include indexes of monsters and
heroes from myth and legends. You can find these in the other sections of
mythology and folklore, but they are also separated into this one to narrow the
This section currently includes four electronic
texts, including one on witchcraft. These texts appear to be older and no
longer protected by copyright laws.
Gallery and Genealogy Charts
The articles contain some images, but these
sections have a few more images to peruse from various mythologies. There are
also various genealogy charts for gods and heroes.
The Encyclopedia Mythica is a fantastic collection of myth
and legend. It can be used for basic research on a god, to gain a general sense
of a culture's mythology, and also for stories of folklore. Whether you're
looking for inspiration to jump off of, a place to start research in a large
subject, or are just curious about beliefs around the world, the Encyclopedia
Mythica is a corpulent resource to get lost in for hours--and find what you need