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Mythology: The Complete Guide to Our Imagined Worlds.

Mythology: The Complete Guide to Our Imagined Worlds. Christopher Dell. Thames & Hudson. 352 pages. ISBN 978-0-500-51615-7. Ensconced in a treasure-house of illustrations (numbering 410 of which 356 are in colour) this erudite and enjoyable guide to the world's myths is a journey through mankind's power of imagination. Mr Dell defines mythology as the result of telling stories in such a way as to understand one's surroundings. For us in Britain and the English-speaking world the most famous myths are those of the Old Testament's creation story in Genesis and the stories of ancient Greece--Apollo, Zeus, Aphrodite and their friends. But as the author points out, myths belong to all civilisations. They developed through the centuries before being written down and borrowed from one another. Because of this the text is organised by fifteen major themes: creation, the pantheons, the supreme being, mother goddesses, the world of the gods, the sun, moon and stars, the gods in love, weather gods, the rainbow, messengers of the gods, tricksters, the underworld, demons and 'other supernatural beings' that are not gods which include personifications of natural phenomena (rivers, trees etc), mankind itself (body parts and human attributes such as death, dreams or self-sacrifice), gifts from the gods (love, music etc), animals, symbolic substances (gold, salt, honey), heroes (including miraculous births and monstrous foes), and quests, journeys and epics. What a list! (K.T.)

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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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