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Epic, complex, contradictory, and utterly beguiling, myths come from every society throughout the world, and never lose their power to stir the imagination. Deeply ingrained in our culture, and forever exploring the mysteries of life and death, love and hatred, they are the backbone of writing, painting, even modern cinema. Illustrated with a wealth of artwork and photography of archeological treasures--masks from the Iroquois, a Spartan theater, depictions of Celtic deities--this visual encyclopedia introduces you to hundreds of timeless characters and transports you into the magical legends of the classical Mediterranean countries, as well as those from Scandinavia, India, China, the Americas, and others. In addition to surveying mythology's symbolic depths, and giving an overview of the diversity and similarities of these tales, individual geographical sections cover the major world cultures and detail alphabetically their gods and goddesses; heroes and heroines; monsters and villains; achievements and adventures, and trials and travels.