Showing posts with label Realm of Myths and Legends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Realm of Myths and Legends. Show all posts

Thursday, September 1, 2011

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -16

Tantalus: King in Greek mythology who offended the gods by divulging their secrets to mortals. They punished him with everlasting thirst and hunger. He stood up to his chin in a river in Hades, but each time he bent to quench his thirst the water receded. Similarly the boughs above him, heavy with fruit, were always just out of reach. The ordeal of Tantalus is the origin of the word tantalize meaning to tease or torment by exciting a hope and then disappointing it, or to keep out of reach something that is much desired.

Tarot Cards: Elaborately decorated cards of unknown origin that are used for fortune telling or divination. There were traditionally 78 cards in the pack- 56 divided into four suits and 22 trump cards with symbolic pictures. There is no standard design for Tarot symbols, and there are many ways of interpreting them.

Sisyphus: In Greek mythology, king of Corinth, he offended Zeus, who condemned him to push a huge boulder up a steep hill eternally.

Sphinx: Monster of Greek and Egyptian mythology. In Greek mythology, the Sphinx had the head and breasts of a woman, the body of a lion, and the wings of a bird. In the story of Oedipus it waylaid travelers on the roads near the city of Thebes, carrying away and devouring anyone who could not answer its riddle: ‘what creatures walk on four legs in the morning, on two legs in the noon, and on three legs in the evening?’ Oedipus finally gave the correct answer: human beings, who crawl on all fours as infants, walk upright in maturity, and use a walking stick in old age. The Egyptian sphinx was usually portrayed as a lion with a pharaoh’s head, like the huge stone statue at Giza in Egypt.

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -15

Pied Piper of Hamelin: German folk tale from the Middle Ages about a town that was infested with rats, until a mysterious piper lured them into a river with his music. When the townspeople refused to pay the piper his fee, he used his strange music to lure their children away. The legend may be based on a folk memory of a medieval epidemic of ergotism, caused by a hallucinogenic fungus that grows on grain, which apparently caused crowds of people to dance from town to town until they were exhausted. However, a more likely basis for the legend is the children’s crusade.

Pluto: Pluto is the Roman name of Hades, god of the underworld and ruler of the dead.

The Planet Pluto is the ninth and normally the farthest known true planet from the Sun. However because of its elliptical orbit, Pluto will be closer to the Sun than Neptune until the year 2000.

Prester John: Legendry Christian monarch of the Middle Ages, believed to rule a kingdom in central Asia. His name means ‘Priest John” and he is thought to be descended from the Magi. In the Middle Ages many journeys were made to find Prester John’s country in the hope that he would help Europe’s kings to fight against Islam. From the mid -14th century the search focused on Ethiopia, a Christian country cut off from Europe

Valkyries: In the Norse mythology, fierce battle maids of the god Odin. The rode into battle and selected those who were destined to die, then conducted the souls of the heroes to Valhalla, the hall of the slain.

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -14

Druids: Priesthood of pre Roman Celtic religion in Gaul and Britain, whose rites are said to have involved human sacrifice. They seem to have had knowledge of astronomy, and claimed to have prophetic powers. They believed that the soul was immortal. It was once thought that the Druids built Stonehenge and other stone circles as their temples. However, although the Druids may have used Stonehenge, archaeology shows that the circle was finished around 1550 BC- some 1200 years before the earliest know Druids.

The druid means ‘knowing the oak tree’ and may refer to their rituals which took place in sacred oak groves.

Elysian Fields: In Greek mythology, the place where the soul of the righteous go after death. According to Homer, it is a beautiful region at the end of the Earth. Figuratively, the Elysian Fields are a place or condition of ideal happiness.

The French translation of Elysian Fields, ‘Champs Elysees’, is the name of the principal boulevard in Paris.

The Fates: Three Greek and Roman goddess who governed human fate. They are Clotho, the spinner of man’s destiny; Lachesis, the weaver of chance; and Atropos, who cuts the thread of life with her scissors when death comes.

Fairies: Supernatural beings found in the folklore of many countries; often mischievous, they are capable of assisting or harassing humans. Hundreds of kinds of fairies have been described, varying in size, character and magical powers. They are said to cover human babies, and cradle snatching is their chief vice. In place of the stolen baby they leave a changeling- a fairy child or a piece of wood carved to look like a child. The Christian church once thought that fairies were fallen angels, or the souls of babies who had died anabaptized.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -12

Amazons: In Greek mythology, a group of female warriors who lived near the Black sea. They had their right breasts burnt off in order to use a bow the arrow more efficiently in war. Theseus took a captive an Amazon named Hippolyta, and they had a son called Hippolytus. Any strong, aggressive woman is some time called an Amazon.

Ambrosia: Food of the gods in Greek mythology. Those who ate it were said to become immortal.

Particularly delicious food is sometimes referred to as ambrosia.

Atlantis: Lost continent first described by the Greek philosopher Plato more than 2000 years ago. Atlantis was said to have been a marvel of prosperity and advanced engineering, enjoyed by a just and peaceful society, until it became corrupted by its wealth. The gods then directed earth quakes and floods against Atlantis until it was swallowed up by the sea. This legend may simply have been a moral fable invented by Plato, but historians still argue about the continent’s possible existence and geographical position. Some scientists think Plato’s Atlantis may have been based on the Minoan civilization of Crete, destroyed around 1500BC by a series of natural disasters. Archeological discoveries suggest that the island of Santorini, 70 miles north of Crete, may have been Atlantis itself.

Fisher king: King in Arthurian legend who presided over the Grail castle where the Holy Grail was kept; he is also known as the Grail King. The Fisher King had been severely wounded yet was incapable of dying. His land was in desolation and the crops would not grow. According to a prophecy, he could be healed only when an innocent fool arrived in the court and asked him why he as ill. An innocent knight called Parsifal found the castle, and eventually asked the necessary question.

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -11

At Fowey, Cornwall, Stands this pillar with the Inscription:


Drustan lies here, son of Cunomorus

Tristan and Iseult: Two tragic lovers in the medieval legends of England, Ireland and Germany. After being wounded by a poisoned spear, Tristan was nursed back to health by Iseult the Fair – the king of Ireland’s beautiful daughter. Tristan brought her back to England to be the bride of his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall, but on the journey home, the couple accidentally drank a love potion which had been prepared for mark and Iseult on their wedding night. They fell deeply in love, and although Iseult married King Mark, the lovers were discovered and fled into the forest where they lived happily for four years, until Iseult decided to return to Mark, who banished Tristan. Years later, Tristan was wounded in a battle and sent for Iseult to heal him- telling his messenger to hoist a white sail on the returning ship if Iseult was on board, a black sail if not. As the shop approached, Tristan’s jealous wife lied and told him it had a black sail, whereupon Tristan died of grief. Iseult, on hearing the news, died soon afterwards.

Styx: In Greek mythology, the river which flowed seven times around the underworld of Hades, and across which Charon ferried the souls of the dead. Its waters were thought to be poisonous.

St. George: Saint of the Christian Church who may have been a high ranking officer in the army of the Roman Empire in Asia Minor in about AD300. In early Christian belief, the legendary slaying by St. George of a dragon symbolized the triumph of Christ over the Devil.

St. George is the patron saint of England and Portugal. In England, St George’s Day is celebrated on April 23. It seems likely that Edward III made him patron saint of England when he founded the Order of the Garter in St George’s name in the mid 14th century.

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -10

Holy Grail: Sacred cup said to have been used by Jesus at the last Supper. It became an object of quest for the Knights of the Round Table, Including Sir Galahad and Parsifal. In one story, it was kept in the Grail castle of the crippled Fisher King. According to the legend, the Grail is said to rest beneath the spring on Glasstonbury Tor.
Narcissus: Beautiful youth in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection. Because he was unable to tear himself away from the image, he wasted away and turned into the narcissus flower. In psychology narcissism is the excessive admiration of oneself.
Midas: King of Phrygia in Greek mythology, who was granted one wish by the god Dionysus – that everything he toughed would turn to gold. He regretted his request when his food became inedible metal and he turned his daughter into golden stature. On the instruction of Dionysus, he bathed in the river Pactolus to rid himself of his golden touch.
Pygmalion: Legendary king of Cyprus who fell in love with a statue he had made of his ideal woman. Aphrodite brought it to life so that he could marry her. George Bernard Shaw’s play PYGMALION adapts this theme.

Psyche: Beautiful girl in Roman mythology. Venus was so jealous of her beauty that she ordered her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with someone ugly. But Cupid himself fell in love with Psyche; he visited her every night in the dark and ordered her never to try to see him. One night Psyche lit a lamp to look at Cupid while he was asleep, but he awoke and fled. While Psyche searched for him, Venus treated her cruelly and set her many harsh tasks. Eventually Jupiter made Psyche immortal, and she and Cupid were married.

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -8

Unicorn: Mythical and heraldic animal resembling a small white horse with one spiraled horn growing out of its forehead.

WereWolves: Men who, according to ancient superstition, could assume the form and characteristics of a wolf. The term lycanthropy is used to describe both this supernatural ability and the insanity afflicting a person who imagines him to be some kind of animal.

Scylla and Charybdis: In Greek mythology, Scylla was a six headed sea monster that lived on a rock on one side of a narrow strait, while Charybdis was a whirlpool on the other side. When the ships passed close to Scylla’s rock in order to avoid Charybdis, she would seize and devour their sailors.

Pegasus: Winged horse in Greek mythology, that sprang from the blood of the dying Medusa. The hero Bellerophon tamed Pegasus and tried to fly to heaven, but was thrown off. Pegasus created Hippocrene, the fountain of the Muses, when he struck his hoof on Mount Helicon.

Harpies: vicious monsters in Greek mythology often depicted as birds of prey with women’s faces and breasts. In the story of Jason, the Harpies were sent by the gods to punish the blind king Phineus, by stealing his food at every meal. Figuratively, a harpy is a fierce, grasping hag or a merciless sponger.

Cerberus: three headed dog in Greek mythology who guarded the entrance to Hades, the underworld.

Chimera: Fire breathing she monster in Greek mythology, usually represented with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a serpent.

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -7

Medusa: In Greek mythology, the best known of three Gorgons whose gaze turned people to stone. The hero Perseus killed her with the aid of Athena. While fighting Medusa he avoided her stare by looking only at her reflection in his polished shield. From the blood of the slain Medusa sprang the winged horse Pegasus.

Minotaur: Monster in Greek mythology with human body and a bull’s head. It was born to Pasiphae, the queen of Crete, after she mated with a scared bull. King Minos ordered Daedalus to construct the Labyrinth in which to keep the monster, and every year seven young men and seven maidens were sent from Athens to be its prey. To stop the slaughter, Theseus volunteered to fight the Minotaur. As he went through the maze he unwound a ball of thread and, after killing the Minotaur, used the thread to find his way out.

Phoenix: A mythical bird that lived in Arabia and burned itself to death every 500 years. The roots of this story first appeared in Greek literature, in an account of Egypt given by Herodotus around 430 BC. When the phoenix was nearing death, it built a nest of sweet spices and sang while the sun ignited it. A worm arose from the ashes and grew into the new phoenix. A Phoenix can also be a person or thing that has been restored to a new existence from destruction, down fall or ruin.

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -6

Hydra: In Greek mythology, a many headed water snake that lived in the marshy plain of Lerna in new Argos. As one if his 12 Labors, Hercules was sent to kill the Hydra, but as soon as he cut off one of its heads two grew in its place. His charioteer had to help by burning the roots of each head.

Loch Ness Monster: large aquatic creature, nicknamed Nessie, said to live in Scotland’s Loch Ness. The first sighting was made in AD 565 by St Columba but only after a newspaper article in 1933 did the creature become world famous. In 1934, a London gynecologist called R.K. Wilson supposedly took a photograph of Nessie’s swan like neck, which resembled that of an extinct marine reptile called a plesiosaur. This has since been exposed as a hoax mounted by Marmaduke Wetherell, a film producer and big game hunter. Large, unidentified shapes have been picked up on sonar equipment, but there is still no undisputed proof of Nessie’s existence.

Mermaid: Mythical sea creature with a woman’s body and a fish’s tail. Mermaid legends are very old, and are remarkably similar whatever their country of origin. Mermaids are seductive Sirens, personifying the beauty and treachery of the sea. They are said to lull sailors to sleep with their sweet singing and they carry them away beneath the waves. Belief in the existence of a race of merfolk was wide spread among seamen until the late 19th century. Ti see a mermaid was considered a portent of danger and disaster.

Monday, August 29, 2011

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -5

Centaur: Creature in Greek mythology with the upper part of a human being and the lower body and legs of a horse, representing animal desires and barbarism. Centaurs were often depicted being ridden by Eros the Greek god of Love- an allusion to their lustful nature.

Cyclopes: Savage one eyed giants in Greek mythology. Their leader Polyphemus, son of Poseidon, imprisoned Odysseus in his cave and ate some of his men. The survivors blinded Polyphemus in his drunken sleep with a hot poker, and escaped by clinging to the bellies of his sheep when they were let out of his cave to graze. Odysseus incurred the undying hatred of Poseidon, who burdened his journey home with difficulties.

Gremlins: Mischievous spirits in the lore of British and American airmen. Gremlins were blamed for causing mechanical problems in military aircraft during World War II. They supposedly drank petrol , and were said to have the ability to raise and lower airfields beneath novice pilots as they came in to land.

Dragon: Imaginary fire breathing beast that figures in mythology and tales of chivalry, usually as a winged serpent with glaring eyes, flared nostrils, sharp teeth and talons. To Christians the dragon was a symbol of the Devil, and slaying the beast symbolized the triumph of Christ over evil. Many saints were depicted as dragon slayers, including St. George. In heraldry the dragon symbolized strength, and in Chinese mythology it was a benevolent beast.

Gog and Magog: Two mythical giants in British legend, statues of which now stand in London’s Guildhall. According to the legend, they were the last survivors of a race of British giants conquered by Brutus and his Trojan warriors.

Realm of Myths and Legends -4

Leda and the Swan: Story from Greek mythology about the rape of Leda, a queen of Sparta, by Zeus, who had taken the form of a swan. As a result of the rape, Helen of Troy hatched from w a white egg. The rape of Leda has frequently been portrayed in art, and W.B.Yeats wrote a poem entitled Leda and the Swan.

Hercules: Greek name Heracles. One of the greatest heroes of Classical mythology- a son of Zeus and supposedly the strongest man on the earth. To atone for slaughtering his family a fit of madness- inflicted on him by Hera- he was set 12 seemingly impossible tasks were to kill the Nemean Lion; to kill the many headed Hydra; to catch the Arcadian stag; to kill the Erymanthian boar; to clean the Augean Stables; to kill the vicious flock of Stymphalian birds; to catch Cretan bull given to Minos by Poseidon; to catch the man eating horses of Thrace; to seize the girdle of the queen of Amazons; to catch the cattle of monster Geryon; to fetch the golden apples of the Hesperides nymphs; and to fetch the three headed dog Cerberus who guarded the entrance to Hades. After successfully completing his labours and surviving many other adventures, Hercules was rewarded with immortality.
An extraordinary effort or task can be described as ‘Herculean’.

Nemesis: Greek goddess of retribution, who punished the wicked as well as anyone she deemed to be too fortunate. Anything that brings about a person’s down fall is described as their nemesis.

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -3

Apple of discord: In Greek mythology, an apple that was thrown into a banquet of the gods by the goddess Discord, who had not been invited. The apple had ‘For the Fairest’ written on it, and it was to resolve the conflicting claims of Aphrodite, Athena and Hera that the Judgement of Paris was made.

Charon: Ferryman in Greek mythology who carried the souls of the dead across the River STYX and into HADES, the underworld. The Greeks used to put coins in the mouths of the dead as his fee.

Eldorado: Mythical ‘Golden Land’ in South America said to belong to El Dorado, a Golden Man’ who covered himself with gold dust. The golden land was thought to exist in the area of the Orinoco and Amazon rivers, but centuries of exploration, including two expeditions led by Sir Walter Raleigh failed to locate it.
Figuratively, Eldorado is a place of fabulous wealth, or an opportunity to obtain it.

Friar Tuck: One of Robin Hood’s legendary ‘merry men’’, a fighter with whom Robin had a trial of strength. The pair met by a river at Fountain Dale, Nottinghamshire, where the Friar agreed to carry Robin over the water, but dropped him into the stream. He joined the outlaws only after a ferocious and in decisive battle with them.

Gaia: The ‘earth goddess’ of Greek mythology. The daughter of Chaos, she was both mother and wife of Uranus, by whom she produced the Cyclopes and the Titans. There is one hypothesis called Gaia hypothesis we will discuss it in the later stage.

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -2

Devil: Supreme embodiment of evil and the archenemy of God, also known as Beelzebub, Lucifer, Old Nick, Satan and the Prince of Darkness. Satan has been depicted in many ways: as a man with horns, goat hoofs and pitchfork, and as an angel with large bat wings. In the early book of the Old Testament, it was God who inflicted punishment on men, while one of his officials- known as ‘the Satan’, Hebrew for ‘adversary’ – acted as a prosecutor. In the New Testament and in later times, the image of Satan grew increasingly monstrous, until he was eventually blamed for all sin and evil, the story of the fall from heaven of Lucifer is told in the Book of Isaiah, in the Old Testament. Belief in the Devil was largely abandoned among theologians as a result of the Enlightenment. John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost tells of the rebellion and punishment of Lucifer, a proud, arrogant and tragic figure who believes that it is ‘better to reign in hell than serve in heaven’.

Faust: Legendary scholar, magician and practitioner of astrology, who sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for youth, knowledge and power. A ‘real’ Faust lived in 16th century Germany- a charlatan who boasted that he could perform miracles because he was in league with the Devil. The writers Christopher Marlowe and Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe wrote plays about Faust. In Marlowe’s Dr. Faust, ends up being dragged to hell to face an eternity of torment; in Goethe’s version, however, Faust is finally redeemed. A ‘Faustian’ bargains is one in which a person sells his soul for huge tangible material gain.

History Mystery: Realm of Myths and Legends -1


Astral body: in occult belief, an exact- though no material copy of the physical body. It is capable of separation itself, and remains attached to the physical body by a seemingly endless cord. At death the cord is severed and the astral body is freed from the limitations of the flesh.


Ball of lightning: Mysterious luminous globe said to appear during electrical storms. Witnesses claim that the balls can either explode on contact with objects or burn their way through them. Although ball lightning has won the credence of many scientists, its physical composition still remains a mystery.


Book of the Dead: Ancient Egyptian texts concerned with the guidance of the soul in the afterlife. Containing spells, incantations and rituals, they were placed in the tombs of the dead to help them rise again, pass safely through the dangers of the underworld, achieve eternal happiness in the next life. They were adapted from Pyramid texts written by the priests for dead pharaohs, and Coffin Texts written for nobles. Simple versions were available to the poor, while the wealthy bought elaborate, illustrated versions. The use of these texts continued into the 1st century BC.


Corn circles: Circular formations that began to materialize in British corn fields in the 1980s, mainly in Wiltshire and Hampshire. The crops are flattened into precise circles and patterns. Theories regarding their creations range from UFOs to rampaging hedgehogs, but in September 1991, two artists called Doug Bower and Dave Chorley admitted that they had made many of the more elaborate circles. Some scientists believe that others may be caused by electrically charged whirlwinds.