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The World of Myth: An Anthology

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Hercules, Zeus, Thor, Gilgamesh--these are the figures that leap to mind when we think of myth. But to David Leeming, myths are more than stories of deities and fantastic beings from non-Christian cultures. Myth is at once the most particular and the most universal feature of civilization, representing common concerns that each society voices in its own idiom. Whether an Egyptian story of creation or the big-bang theory of modern physics, myth is metaphor, mirroring our deepest...
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Hercules, Zeus, Thor, Gilgamesh--these are the figures that leap to mind when we think of myth. But to David Leeming, myths are more than stories of deities and fantastic beings from non-Christian cultures. Myth is at once the most particular and the most universal feature of civilization, representing common concerns that each society voices in its own idiom. Whether an Egyptian story of creation or the big-bang theory of modern physics, myth is metaphor, mirroring our deepest sense of ourselves in relation to existence itself.
Now, in The World of Myth, Leeming provides a sweeping anthology of myths, ranging from ancient Egypt and Greece to the Polynesian islands and modern science. We read stories of great floods from the ancient Babylonians, Hebrews, Chinese, and Mayans; tales of apocalypse from India, the Norse, Christianity, and modern science; myths of the mother goddess from Native American Hopi culture and James Lovelock's Gaia. Leeming has culled myths from Aztec, Greek, African, Australian Aboriginal, Japanese, Moslem, Hittite, Celtic, Chinese, and Persian cultures, offering one of the most wide-ranging collections of what he calls the collective dreams of humanity.
More important, he has organized these myths according to a number of themes, comparing and contrasting how various societies have addressed similar concerns, or have told similar stories. In the section on dying gods, for example, both Odin and Jesus sacrifice themselves to renew the world, each dying on a tree. Such traditions, he proposes, may have their roots in societies of the distant past, which would ritually sacrifice their kings to renew the tribe.
In The World of Myth, David Leeming takes us on a journey "not through a maze of falsehood but through a marvellous world of metaphor," metaphor for "the story of the relationship between the known and the unknown, both around us and within us." Fantastic, tragic, bizarre, sometimes funny, the myths he presents speak of the most fundamental human experience, a part of what Joseph Campbell called "the wonderful song of the soul's high adventure."
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Indispensable and by far the most accessible anthology available."--Susan A. St. Peters, Riverside City College

"The World of Myth is incredibly informative, covering a large range of cultures and regions. It could easily stand alone as the main text in an Intro to Mythology course. It is comprehensive, culturally inclusive, and well researched."--Maggie DiVito, Columbus College of Art and Design

"This text is the most accessible survey of world myth on the market today. All cultures are represented. As far as coverage goes, it offers all that teachers need in order to give students a concise but representative perspective on the stories that we tell about ourselves."--Edward Karshner, Roberts Morris University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199316366
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/26/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 303,248
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author
David Adams Leeming is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, and is the author of several books on myth and literature.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Dimensions of Myth
Select Bibliography
The Creation
Egypt: Ex Nihilo Beginnings
Mesopotamia: Enuma Elish and the World Parent
Israel: Genesis and the Talmudic Lilith
India: The Sacred Words
Iran (Persia): Aryan and Zoroastrian
China: Cosmic Egg and Yin and Yang
Greece: Hesiod's Theogony
Iceland (Norse): The World Parent of the Eddas
Meso-America (Aztec-Mexica): Coatlicue the World Mother
Native North America (Onondagan): Star Woman and Earth Divers
Africa (Boshongo-Bantu): Bumba's Creation
Native North America (Acoma); Goddesses and the Emergence
Darwin: Origins
Modern Physics: The Big Bang
The Flood
Mesopotamia (Sumer-Babylon): Utnapishtim (Ziusudra)
Israel: Noah
Iran (Zoroastrian): Yima
Egypt: Hathor, Blood and Beer
China: Yü
India: Manu
Greece-Rome: Deucalion and Pyrrha
Meso-America (Mayan): The Popol-Vuh
South-America (Incan): Viracocha and the Giants
The Apocalypse
Israel: The Day of Yahweh
Asia Minor (Christian): The Book of Revelation
Iran (Zoroastrian): The Savior Saoshyant
Arabia (Muslim): End of the World
India: The End of the Kali Age
Native North America (Hopi): Emergence to the Fifth World
Iceland (Norse): Ragnarök
Modern Physics: Entropy and Heat Death
The Pantheons
Mesopotamia (Sumer): Gods of the Elements
India: The Triad
Greece: Orginators and Olympians
Rome: The Renamed Olympians
Iceland (Norse): The Aesir and the Vanir
Ireland and Wales: The Family of Don and the Tuatha de Danann
The God as Archetype
The Supreme Being
India: Krishna-Vishnu as Brahman
Israel: Yahweh
Native South America (Uitoto): Nainema
Africa (Bushman): Mantis
Native North America (Cherokee): Sun Goddess
Japan: Amaterasu
Modern Science: Immanent Mind
The Great Mother
Ireland and Wales: Danu-Don
Native North America (Inuit): Sedna
North America (Lakota Sioux): White Buffalo Woman
Mexico: Our Lady of Guadaloupe
Modern Science: Gaia as Earth
The Dying God
Mesopotamia (Sumer): Inanna (Ishtar)
Egypt: Osiris and Isis
Greece and Rome: Adonis and Aphrodite
Asia Minor (Phrygia): Attis
Greece: Dionysos
Iceland (Norse): Odin
Native North America (Penobscot): Corn Mother
The Trickster
Mesopotamia (Sumer): Enki and the Me
Greece: Hermes Steals the Cattle
India: Krishna and the Gopis
Iceland (Norse): Loki
Native North America (Maida): Coyote
Africa (Fon): Legba
Gods, Goddesses, and Lesser Spirits
Greece and Rome
Native North America (Tewa): Water Jar Boy
Greece: Theseus
Greece: Herakles (Hercules) and the Twelve Labors
India: The Buddha
Ireland: Cuchulainn
Greece: Antigone
Europe: King Arthur
Europe: Parcival and the Holy Grail
Israel: Jonah
Greece: Jason and the Golden Fleece
Rome: Aeneas
Arabia: Muhammad and the Night Journey
Africa (Kikuyu): Wanjiru
Indonesia (Ceram): Hainuwele
India: Rama and Sita
India: Draupadi
Australia (Aboriginal): The Pleiades
Mesopotamia: Gilgamesh
Greece and Rome: Orpheus and Eurydice
Greece: Odysseus
Israel: Jesus
Meso-America (Toltec/Aztec): Quetzalcoatl
Europe: Mary
Greece: Alcestis
The World of Afterlife
Egypt: Osiris
Greece and Rome: Lands of the Dead
Native North America (Hopi): The Kachinas
The Mountain
India: Mount Meru
The City
Greece and Rome: Troy
Israel-Palestine: Jerusalem
Greece: Delphi
The Temple
Europe: The Chapel Perilous
The Genitals
Greece: Tiresias
Native North American (Apache): The Vagina Girls
The Stone
Asia Minor (Phrygia): The Agdos Rock
Australia (Aboriginal): Erathipa
The Tree
India: The Cosmic Tree
China: Fusang
Iceland (Norse): Yggdrasil
The Garden, the Grove, and the Cave
Arabia: Muhammad's Cave
The Labyrinth
Greece: Daedalus and Icarus

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012


    I had to get this book for a class I am taking for my Bachelor of Arts in English. The book arrived in perfect condition and is an AMAZING book for those interested in mythology pieces of literature!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2000

    Must for Humamities Classes!

    This book was used constantly at my high school in my Humaities class. Could put you to sleep at times, but OK reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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