American Hero Myths
This little volume is a contribution to the comparative study of religions. It is an endeavor to present in a critically correct light some fundamental conceptions which found in the native beliefs of the tribes of America.
The time has long since passed, at least among thinking men, when the religious legends of the lower races looked upon as trivial fables, or as the inventions of the Father of Lies. They are neither the one nor the other. They express, in image and incident, the opinions of these races on the mightiest topics of human thought, on the origin and destiny of man, his motives for duty and his grounds of hope, and the source, history and fate of all external nature. The sincere expressions on these subjects of even humble members of humans deserve our most respectful heed, and maybe we shall discover in their crude narrations gleams of a mental light which their proud Aryan brothers have been long in coming to, or have not yet reached.
Bulfinch’s Mythology is a collection of public works by Latinist and banker Thomas Bulfinch, named after him and published after his death. The work was an outstanding popularization of Greek mythology for English-speaking readers. Carl J. Richard mentions that it was “one of the most popular books ever published in the United States and the standard work on classical mythology for a century” until the release of classicist Edith Hamilton’s 1942 Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes.
The book is prose recounting of myths and stories from three eras: Greek and Roman mythology, King Arthur legends, and medieval romances. It intersperses the stories with his own commentary and with quotations from the writings of Bulfinch’s contemporaries, which contain a reference to the story under discussion. This combination of classical elements and modern literature was novel for his time.
Custom and Myth
Custom and Myth, by Andrew Lang (1886). This book of fifteen sketches, ranging in subject from the Method of Folk-lore and Star Myths to the Art of Savages, illustrates the author’s conception of the inadequacy of the accepted methods of comparative mythology. He does not believe that “myths result from a disease of language, as the pearl results from a disease of the oyster.”
The notion that proper names in the old myths hold the key to their explanation, as Max Müller, Kuhn, Breal, and many other eminent philologists maintain, Mr. Lang denies; declaring that the analysis of names, on which the entire edifice of philological “comparative mythology” rests, is a foundation of shifting sand. Stories are anonymous at first, he believes, names being added later, and adventures grouping themselves around any famous personage, divine, heroic, or human.
Thus what is called a Greek myth or a Hindu legend may be found current among a people who never heard of Greece or India. The story of Jason, for example, is told in Samoa, Finland, North America, Madagascar. It makes each of the myths presented here to serve a controversial purpose in so far as it supports the essayist’s theory that explanations of comparative mythology do not explain. He believes that folk-lore contains the survivals of primitive ideas common to many peoples, as similar physical and social conditions breed the same ideas. The hypothesis of a myth common to several races rests on the assumption of a common intellectual condition among them.
Legends of the Gods
Comprises nine of the most important religious and mythological stories from ancient Egypt. These stories have seen throughout the years, but have found in their exact translations, all simultaneously in one volume. In most cases, the original Egyptian hieroglyphs appear on each facing page of text, making this a great study tool for those interested in ancient Egyptian writing. With practice, one may come away with the ability to read Egyptian hieroglyphs.
These essential works include The Legend of the Creation; The Legend of the Destruction of Mankind; The Legend of Ra and the Snake-Bite; The Legend of Horus of Edfu and the Winged Disc; The Legend of the Origin of Horus; A Legend of Khensu Nefer-Hetep and the Princess of Bekhten; The Legend of Khnemu and a Seven Years’ Famine; The Legend of the Death and Resurrection of Horus; and The Legend of Isis and Osiris According to Classical Writers. Essential texts for those researching ancient Egyptian history and mythology.
Legends of the Babylon and Egypt in Relation to Hebrew Tradition
This is a complete view of some mythology and spiritual traditions in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. From the preface: “In these lectures, it makes an attempt, not so much to restate familiar phenomena, as to take in them to new and supplementary evidence which has been published in America since the outbreak of the war. But even without the excuse of recent discovery, it would need no apology for any comparison or contrast of Hebrew tradition with the mythological and legendary beliefs of Babylon and Egypt. It only throws Hebrew achievements in the sphere of religion and ethics into stronger relief when studied against their contemporary background.
The bulk of our new material is furnished by some ancient texts, written towards the close of the third millennium B.C. They incorporate traditions that extend in unbroken outline from their own period into the remote ages of the past and claim to trace the history of man back to his creation. They represent the early national traditions of the Sumerian people, who preceded the Semites as the ruling race in Babylonia; and incidentally, they cause a revision of current views regarding the cradle of Babylonian civilization. The most remarkable of the new documents is one which relates in poetical narrative an account of the Creation, of Antediluvian history, and of the Deluge.
Myth, Ritual, and Religion
This looks at the history of mythology around the world. From the preface: “When this book first appeared (1886), the philological school of interpretation of religion and myth, being then still powerful in England, was criticized and opposed by the author. In Science, as on the Turkish throne of old, “Amurath to Amurath succeeds”; the philological theories of religion and myth have now yielded to anthropological methods.
The center of the anthropological position was the “ghost theory” of Mr. Herbert Spencer, the “Animistic” theory of Mr. E. R. Tylor, according to whom the propitiation of ancestral and other spirits lead to polytheism, and thence to monotheism. In the second edition (1901) of this work, the author argued that the belief in a “relatively supreme being,” anthropomorphic was as old as, and might be even older than animistic religion.
Myths and Legends of China
Showing an alluring glimpse into a world dominated by traditional rules of etiquette and inhabited by demons, dragon-gods, and spirits, the volume opens with a preparatory chapter on the origins of the Chinese people. In succeeding chapters, Mr. Werner’s readable, well-illustrated text considers the gods of China and myths of stars, thunder, lightning, wind and rain; of water and fire; of epidemics, medicine, and exorcism; and tales about the goddess of mercy, the guardian of the gate of heaven, accounts of how the Monkey became a god, and much more.
In addition, 32 striking illustrations depict such traditional deities as the Spirit That Clears the Way, civilian and military Door Gods, the Kitchen-God, Dragon-Gods, the Gods of Happiness, Office, and Longevity, and others.
Engrossing and informative, Myths and Legends of China will appeal not only to lovers of folklore but to anyone interested in Chinese art, culture, or philosophy.
Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Myths of Babylon and Assyria, by Donald A. Mackenzie. A rough narrative of both the myths and ancient history of Babylon and Assyria, with similarities and parallels tied to Greek, Egyptian, Norse, Indian, and much mythologies and Egyptian and Hebrew history.
“Myths of Babylonia and Assyria” looks at the ancient history of the land that is now part of Iraq and the Middle East. The book looks at the myths and legends of Babylonia and Assyria, and how these ancient tales manifest the beliefs and change of these ancient civilizations. The classical narrative of the book starts with the early Sumerian age and ends thirty centuries thereafter with the periods of the Persian and Greek Empires.
Representation of Deities of the Maya Manuscripts
The three manuscripts which we possess of the ancient Maya peoples of Central America, the Dresden (Dr.), the Madrid (Tro.-Cort.), and the Paris (Per.) Manuscripts, all contain a series of pictorial representations of human figures, which, beyond question, should regard as figures of gods. Together with these are several animal figures, some with human bodies, dress, and armor, which likewise have a mythologic significance.
Since the first edition of this pamphlet appeared in the year 1897, investigation in this department of science has made such marked progress, notwithstanding the slight amount of material, that a revision has now become desirable. It can be readily understood that new science, an investigation on virgin soil, such as the Maya study is, makes more rapid progress and develops more quickly than one pertaining to some old, much-explored territory.
The Golden Bough
James Frazer’s monumental study of world mythology and folklore has been a controversial work for over a century. The Golden Bough is “a substantial body of primitive and barbarous beliefs” and essential reading for anyone interested in mythology, supernatural magic or religion, especially modern neo-pagan practices. Over one critic has said that it should be required reading for everyone.
Frazer attempted to define the shared elements of religious belief and scientific thought, discussing fertility rites, human sacrifice, the dying god, the scapegoat, and many other symbols and practices whose influences had extended into 20th-century culture. His thesis is that old religions were fertility cults that revolved around the worship and periodic sacrifice of a sacred king. Frazer proposed that mankind progresses from magic through religious belief to scientific thought.
The Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome
Berens’ work is an extensive look at both ancient mythology and some noble figures of Greek and Roman history. From the preface: “The want of interesting work on Greek and Roman mythology, suitable for the requirements of both boys and girls, has long recognized by the principals of our advanced schools. The study of the classics themselves, even where the attainments of the pupil have rendered this workable, has not found altogether successful in giving to the student a clear and succinct idea of the religious beliefs of the ancients, and some suggest that a work which would so deal with the subject as to render it at once interesting and instructive would be hailed as a valuable introduction to the study of classic authors, and would found to assist the labors of both master and pupil.
In endeavoring to supply this want I have sought to place before the reader a lifelike picture of the deities of classical times as they conceived and worshipped by the ancients themselves, and to awaken in the minds of young students a desire to become more intimately acquainted with the noble productions of classical antiquity.
It has been my aim to render the Legends, which form the second portion of the work, a picture of old Greek life; its customs, its superstitions, and its princely hospitalities, for which reason they gave at somewhat greater length than is usual in works of the kind. In a chapter devoted to the purpose, it has collected some interesting particulars respecting the public worship of the ancient Greeks and Romans (more especially of the former), to which subjoined an account of their principal festivals.
The Myths of the New World
A study of the intellectual history of mankind as it exemplified by the American Indian: The questions of origin and destiny, the concepts of God and a soul, myths of creation, symbols such as the bird, serpent and the cross—universal questions analyzed in terms of the faith of the Indians.
According to Wikipedia: “The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Americas, their descendants, and many ethnic groups who identify with those peoples. They are often also referred to as Native Americans, First Nations, Amerigine, and by Christopher Columbus’ geographical mistake Indians, modernly clarified as the American Indian race, American Indians, Amerindians, Amerinds, or Red Indians. According to the still-debated New World migration model, a migration of humans from Eurasia to the Americas took place via Beringia, a land bridge that formerly connected the two continents across what is now the Bering Strait.
The most recent point at which this migration could have taken place is c. 12,000 years ago, with the earliest period remaining a matter of some unresolved contention.
The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi
By a concise analysis of present time Hopi way of life and a study into the myths and traditions making up the unwritten literature of this people, this bulletin proposes to show that an intimate connection exists between their ritual acts, their moral standards, their social organization, even their practical activities of today, and their myths and tales-the still unwritten legendary lore.
The myths and legends of primitive peoples have always interested the painter, the poet, the thinker; and we are coming to realize more and more that they make up a treasure-trove for the archaeologist, and the anthropologist, for these sources, tell us of the struggles, the triumphs, the wanderings of a people, of their aspirations, their ideals and beliefs; in short, they give us a twilight history of the race.