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Great Mythologies of the World

Learn what makes myths in every culture so important, distinctive, and able to withstand the test of time in this comprehensive and engrossing course.
Great Mythologies of the World is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 41.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, But A Bit Uneven This course appears like it could have been 5 separate courses that they put under one umbrella. However, given that all 5 groupings used the same set, maybe it was intended all along to be one very long course. It covers the mythologies of 5 distinct areas of the globe: Europe starting with the Greeks and Latins; the Middle East starting with Egypt, but also including India and Persia; it moved on to a huge continent full of myths, Africa; it followed this with Asia that also included Polynesia and Australia; finally covering the myths of the indigenous peoples of North America, Central America and ending with the Incas. Each section was covered in 12 units. Simply due the ambitiousness of this project, it could not be anything other than a quick survey of each of these regions. For a deeper dive into Greek and Latin mythology I would recommend these two Wondrium courses: Elizabeth Vandiver’s “Classical Mythology” as well as her course on “The Odyssey of Homer”. I say it was a bit uneven as the last 12 units taught by Professor Grant L. Voth on the myths of indigenous peoples of North America, Central America, and South America was a 5 star presentation IMHO. The other groupings, had they been separate, would have bounced between 3 stars and 4 stars. ‘ The first two sections were taught by Professor Kathryn McClymond and on the whole were pretty good, although she tended to look at these mythologies with a 21st century feminist prospective that at times seemed a little out of place. The section on Africa was taught by Professor Julius H. Bailey was interesting, but given the size of Africa and the diversity of Africa he had an almost Olympian task presented to him. He did a reasonable job and many of the myths were new and very interesting to me. One of the African tricksters he presented had me thinking of one of the Spiderman movies. Perhaps this is where they got their villain. The section on Asia, Polynesia and Australia was taught by Professor Robert André LaFleur. His knowledge was deep, as it appeared was his love of the subject. His presentation style was a bit rough and occasionally got in the way. If you have 30 hours to invest I would recommend this course. After all it is less time than it takes to listen to “Moby Dick” or “Ulysses” as audio books. I watched this course as I put in my time on the treadmill, and it made that time fly by quickly.
Date published: 2024-01-31
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Chapter Nine-The Mother Goddess in Rome and Beyond In this chapter, while comparing Anatolian Cybele and Roman Cybele, a female professor uses a very unfortunate comparison. She says, Anatolian Cybele is associated with nature and animals and she is wild. She describes Roman Cybele as a sophisticated god. Then she says, Anatolian Cybele is the girl you party with in college while Roman Cybele is the girl you take home to meet your parents! Such an unfortunate and appaling comparison. What is worse is it is coming from a woman! She should apologize and Great Courses should take out that sentence from the publication.
Date published: 2023-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really 4.5 stars This is not a perfect series of lectures, but its pretty darn good. The series starts with the basic Greek and Roman stuff we all know about already. I've done several of the Egypt courses so I skipped those. Then we have a fascinating look at many of the Middle East and Indian myths. This was the highlight for me. The African ones were good, but seemed stretched at 12 episodes. Then we get to the Americas. Again, I've done several courses, so much of the basic mythology was known. People not familiar with those myths will be thrilled. Overall, a really fun watch despite the fact there are 60(!) episodes.
Date published: 2023-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievably comprehensive Usually when a course says "ancient world" or "world" it really means Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome, sometimes with China or the Maya thrown in. Not here! A mind-boggling romp through the actual world! I have a grad degree in anthropology and an interest in history and culture of as much of the world as I can learn about in this lifetime: I read the Popol Vuh in high school; know the Gita, Mesoamerican cultures, Vikings and Celts, most of native North America, Pacific Islands. Was really interested to see this team of scholars tackle all that and more. Particularly interested in the myths and heroes of the various regions of Africa. My other love is astronomy, and I've known that every group of humans on Earth had deep sky lore. Great class!
Date published: 2023-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course is extraordinary! Various civilizations are included with excellent teachers. It allows us to see the world and humans in different ways, which can enrich our lives.
Date published: 2022-11-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Just average... with problems I just finished the episode on Odin and Thor. The professor made Thor sound like some kind of heroic figure who was willing to die to destroy evil. Actually, Odin was continuously looking for ways to avoid death. Also, Odin was not some beneficent being. Instead, he spent much of his time harvesting souls for Valhol for the final battle of Ragnarok. Finally, she portrays Ragnarok has having already taken place, giving rise to the age of humans. Where did this serious inaccuracy come from? Once again, a professor deviates from mainstream teachings. Maybe peer reviews of these lessons are needed...
Date published: 2022-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Better than others This is better than any cable network special. It's more informative and lacks the pseudo Hollywood garbage.
Date published: 2022-06-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well done Teaches a lot about the basic character and ethos of various contries
Date published: 2022-03-17
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The deep-seated origins and wide-reaching lessons of ancient myths built the foundation for our modern legacies. Explore the mythologies of Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Learn what makes these stories so important, distinctive, and able to withstand the test of time. Discover how, despite geographical implausibilities, many myths from across the oceans share themes, morals, and archetypes.


Dr. Grant L. Voth

No idea of any single culture will ever capture the entire human sense of god, or creation, or the hero; and to get a more complete human picture, we have to look at the myths of many cultures.


Monterey Peninsula College
Dr. Grant L. Voth, is Professor Emeritus at Monterey Peninsula College. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Greek, he received his Master of Arts degree in English Education from St. Thomas College and his doctorate in English from Purdue University. Professor Voth was the Monterey Peninsula Students' Association Teacher of the Year and the recipient of the first Allen Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching in Monterey County. Professor Voth is the author of more than 30 articles and books on subjects ranging from Shakespeare to Edward Gibbon to modern American fiction, including the official study guides for 26 of the plays in the BBC Television Shakespeare project. He created a series of mediated courses in literature and interdisciplinary studies, one of which won a Special Merit Award from the Western Educational Society for Telecommunication. Professor Voth's other Great Courses include A Day's Read, The History of World Literature, Myth in Human History, and The Skeptic's Guide to the Great Books.

By This Professor

Great Mythologies of the World
Kathryn McClymond

…Myths still speak to universal human experience, containing kernels of truth that seem to transcend space and time.


Georgia State University

Professor Kathryn McClymond is Chair and Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Georgia State University, where she has taught since 1999. Professor McClymond graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in History and Literature and later pursued her M.A. and Ph.D. in Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her focus was on comparative ritual studies, with an emphasis on Hindu and Jewish traditions.

Professor McClymond has published widely on religion and ritual, focusing on sacrifice and violence. She also has been involved in collaborative research that emphasizes the importance of story and narrative in individual lives. Current projects include developing an oral history archive of the religious life stories of residents of Atlanta, Georgia, and an interdisciplinary program that encourages military personnel and veterans to integrate morally traumatic experiences into their own moral and ethical life stories.

Professor McClymond is the recipient of the Georgia State University College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award (2006) and the Georgia State University Distinguished Honors Professor Award (2002). In 2013, she was elected to the American Society for the Study of Religion. She also has been a member of the Board of Regents for the University of California.

Professor McClymond is the author of Beyond Sacred Violence: A Comparative Study of Sacrifice and the forthcoming Ritual Gone Wrong: What We Learn from Ritual Disruption, as well as numerous academic articles.

By This Professor

Great Mythologies of the World
Julius H. Baliey

Ancient African myths considered some of humanity’s earliest thoughts about divinity, the world, and life itself.


University of Redlands

Professor Julius H. Bailey is a Professor of Religion at the University of Redlands. He received a B.A. in Religious Studies from Occidental College and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research interests include African mythology, African American religious history, and new religious movements. He teaches courses on varied aspects of religion.

Professor Bailey’s research focuses on the diverse experiences of the African diaspora. His first book is entitled Around the Family Altar: Domesticity in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1865–1900. This work examines the ideology of domesticity in the lives of African Americans in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and its distinctiveness in light of recent studies of 19th-century white Protestant and Catholic homes. The book traces the efforts of AME Church leaders and members to apply notions of domesticity to the challenges facing the denomination after the Civil War, such as regional tensions, the restoration of families after slavery, the licensing of female preachers, and the spiritual nurturing of children.

Professor Bailey’s second book is Race PatriotismProtest and Print Culture in the AME Church. This work analyzes the ways in which various understandings of race, gender, and place influenced the framing of social issues for African Americans in the 19th century. Issues discussed include westward migration, the selection of the appropriate referent for the race, social Darwinism, the viability of emigration to Africa, and cultural and religious connections to African traditional religions.

Professor Bailey’s research also looks at African American new religious movements. His work on this topic includes “‘Cult’ Knowledge: The Challenges of Studying New Religious Movements in America” (a chapter in Doing Recent History: On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History That Talks Back) and “The Final Frontier: Secrecy, Identity, and the Media in the Rise and Fall of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors,” published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. The professor also has written an article on white supremacist movements, “Fearing Hate: Reexamining the Media Coverage of the Christian Identity Movement,” which appeared in the Journal for the Study of Radicalism.

Professor Bailey is currently at work on two books, a collection of international myths and a textbook on African American religious history.

By This Professor

Great Mythologies of the World
Robert Andre LaFleur

The myth that began all Chinese myths tells the story, not of how the world began, but of a culture hero who transformed daily human life.


Beloit College

Professor Robert Andre LaFleur is Professor of History and Anthropology at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he has taught since 1998. He received his doctorate from The University of Chicago's John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought, where he combined work in anthropology, history, and Chinese literature. Professor LaFleur received the Charles S. Bassett Teaching Award from Colby College, as well as the James R. Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award from Beloit College. He is the recipient of a Millicent C. McIntosh Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and has been a frequent visiting scholar with the University of Wisconsin's Institute for Research in the Humanities and the East-West Center in Honolulu. In 2013, Professor LaFleur gave a series of lectures and seminars at Beijing University. Professor LaFleur is the lead author and editor of two textbooks: China: A Global Studies Handbook and Asia in Focus: China. He has published book chapters, articles, and research papers about topics ranging from Chinese historiography, literature, ethnicity, and mythology to the history and anthropology of Oceania. Professor LaFleur's current work combines historical research using Chinese, Japanese, and Korean sources with anthropological fieldwork on each of China's five sacred mountains.

By This Professor

Great Mythologies of the World
Books That Matter: The Analects of Confucius
Great Mythologies of the World


The Titans in Greek Mythology

01: The Titans in Greek Mythology

Welcome to the ancient Greek myths: some of the most popular, well-known stories in Western civilization. When did these tales emerge, and what are our earliest sources for them? Find out in this lecture on father-son conflicts between Uranus, Kronos, Zeus, and the other first-generation gods known as the Titans....

35 min
Complex Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera

02: Complex Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera

Meet three iconic goddesses whose personalities and stories reflect how the ancient Greeks viewed women. They are: Athena, who emerged fully-formed from Zeus's head and is linked to legal courts; Aphrodite, best known for her wild love affair with Adonis; and Hera, Zeus's wife-sister, who presides over marriage and childbirth....

31 min
Gods and Humanity in Greek Thought

03: Gods and Humanity in Greek Thought

Discover fresh insights into several Greek myths that teach us about the relationship between gods and humans. Is Prometheus a troublemaker (according to Hesiod) or a liberator (according to Aeschylus)? What happened after Pandora's box of evil spirits was opened? How did Persephone's kidnapping inspire the Eleusinian Mysteries?...

33 min
Herakles and the Greek Hero

04: Herakles and the Greek Hero

Investigate the mythological roots and legacies of the powerful-but flawed-Greek hero, Herakles. Explore common threads that run through some of his twelve labors, including the slaying of the Hydra and the cleaning of the Augean stables. Also, ponder Herakles's role in ancient Greek society as both mortal and god....

32 min
Odysseus, Master of Schemes

05: Odysseus, Master of Schemes

Turn now to the hero of Homer's celebrated Odyssey: Odysseus. From his plans for the Trojan horse to his tricking of a murderous cyclops to his final arrival back in Ithaca, learn how Odysseus's scheming and lying led to heroic triumphs that made his story relatable to everyday ancient Greeks-and to modern readers....

33 min
The Golden Fleece and the Hero's Return

06: The Golden Fleece and the Hero's Return

An altogether different-and darker-mythological adventure story is Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece. In pondering the best-known versions of both Jason's story and his wife, Medea's, you'll begin to see Jason as a failed hero and Medea as more than just the woman who murdered her own children....

33 min
Romulus, Remus, and Rome's Origins

07: Romulus, Remus, and Rome's Origins

Not all Roman mythology is indebted to Greece. Focus on several uniquely Roman myths about the empire's founding, including the lives of the brothers Romulus and Remus and the abduction of the Sabine women. What's the difference between creation and origin stories? What are some traditional mythic elements we find in ancient Rome?...

33 min
Roman Heroes and Traitors

08: Roman Heroes and Traitors

Discover why Aeneas, the ancestor of all Romans, and Tarpeia, who betrayed Rome for personal gain, are two sides of the same coin. As you explore their stories, you'll see how they offer inspirational (and cautionary) testaments to Rome's values-and reflect character types we see in almost every civilization's myths....

33 min
The Mother Goddess in Rome and Beyond

09: The Mother Goddess in Rome and Beyond

What does Cybele reveal about the great mother goddesses of mythological traditions? Learn how this classic figure evolved over thousands of years, how it adapted to different cultures, how it became connected in Rome with power and aristocracy, and where it appears (and doesn't appear) in other human cultures....

32 min
The Dagda's Harp and Other Celtic Myths

10: The Dagda's Harp and Other Celtic Myths

Using the intriguing tale of Dagda and his magic harp as a framework, Professor McClymond introduces you to the often unappreciated world of Celtic mythology. Meet unforgettable heroes like Cú Chulainn and Lugh, and encounter powerful magical items and treasures with unique personalities, including the Stone of Fal....

32 min
Norse Tales of Odin and Thor

11: Norse Tales of Odin and Thor

Dark and brooding, Norse mythology reflects the harsh living conditions of ancient Germanic and Scandinavian people. Here, focus on two of the most well-known Norse gods: Odin (the god of war who sacrificed himself on a tree) and Thor (the god of order who wields his dwarf-crafted hammer, Mjolnir)....

31 min
Hammers, Rings, and Other Norse Magic

12: Hammers, Rings, and Other Norse Magic

Skidbladnir, the ship of the gods that can also fit in your pocket. Andvarinaut, a powerful ring that inspired a cycle of mythological stories. These and other magical items are the prized possessions of Norse kings, warriors, and heroes. And their importance-and legacies-are the subject of this final lecture....

33 min
The World's Oldest Myth: Gilgamesh

13: The World's Oldest Myth: Gilgamesh

Start these riveting lectures at the only appropriate point: the oldest story in the world. In looking at the epic of Gilgamesh, you'll learn how this foundational Babylonian myth reflects real historical tensions between ancient Eastern city-states; tensions mirrored in the myth's concerns with civilized-and untamed-human nature....

33 min
The Babylonian Creation Story

14: The Babylonian Creation Story

Where did ancient Babylonians believe the world came from? What startling similarities does their account have with the Bible's? Explore these and other questions in this look at the Enuma Elish, a sophisticated creation story (or cosmogony) that casts the average Babylonian as a mere afterthought in the eyes of the gods....

31 min
Chaos and Order in Egypt

15: Chaos and Order in Egypt

Perpetual violence. A destructive struggle between order and chaos. Welcome to the mythography of ancient Egypt, which includes multiple creation stories tied to different city centers; a fantastic pantheon of gods; different historical and mythic "time lines"; and maat, the overarching concept of morality and justice....

33 min
Horus, Osiris, and Ra

16: Horus, Osiris, and Ra

Focus on three Egyptian gods who are inextricably linked with the pharaohs. They are the murdered and resurrected Osiris, associated with nature; Horus, the sky god responsible for unifying Upper and Lower Egypt; and Ra, the popular sun god known for his nightly journeys through the land of the dead....

32 min
Myths of the Pharaohs

17: Myths of the Pharaohs

The pharaohs themselves played a vital role in Egyptian culture, maintaining cosmic order throughout the land. Investigate the lives and deaths (and possible afterlives) of several of ancient Egypt's 330 pharaohs, including King Amenhotep IV, who tried to become a supreme god, and Cleopatra, the civilization's last pharaoh....

32 min
The Book of Job

18: The Book of Job

Examine the biblical Book of Job through a mythological lens and learn how it addresses the same basic questions of other myths. How do Job's trials and tribulations at the hand of the Hebrew god force us to look at the world-and our role within it-from a fresh perspective?...

30 min
The Great Indian Epics

19: The Great Indian Epics

Get inside Indian culture with this lecture on its two great epics: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Both are frame narratives that bring together hundreds of smaller stories. Both help establish Vishnu's importance among other Hindu gods. And both have had a lasting effect on Indian spirituality, politics, and literature....

33 min
The Bhagavad Gita

20: The Bhagavad Gita

Turn now to a section of the Mahabharata known as the Bhagavad Gita. You'll peel back the layers behind the popular story of the warrior Arjuna; learn how to read the Gita as a devotional story and a manual for life; and discover how it shaped Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy....

32 min
Stories of the Buddha

21: Stories of the Buddha

According to Professor McClymond, it's best to understand the mythology of Buddhism as a grand anthology of short stories. With this in mind, explore the life and beliefs of the Buddha, ponder the teachings of Buddhist myth as told through its stories, and examine stories that pit Buddhism against other religious traditions....

31 min
Persia's Book of Kings

22: Persia's Book of Kings

The Book of Kings is widely regarded as the national epic of the world's Persian-speaking community. Go inside this 11th-century epic poem that traces 50 generations of Persian kings and heroes, including Rostam-whom you'll follow on his famous "seven labors" and his battle with the crown prince of Persia....

31 min
One Thousand and One Nights

23: One Thousand and One Nights

Can an overwhelmingly secular text be read as mythology? Find out in this lecture on the One Thousand and One Nights, known in the West as The Arabian Nights. You'll get insights into great heroes like Sindhbad the sailor, mythical creatures like jinns, and the text's use of the supernatural to provide real-world guidance....

31 min
Tales of Flood and Fire

24: Tales of Flood and Fire

Fire and flood are universal images, so it's not surprising that many myth traditions in South Asia and the Middle East include them in their stories of destruction and eventual renewal. See this powerful theme at work in Gilgamesh, Zoroastrian mythology, and the Buddha's "Sermon of the Seven Suns."...

33 min
The Beauty of African Mythology

25: The Beauty of African Mythology

Jump right into the distinctive elements of African mythology with the story of Shango-a fearsome king of the city-kingdom of Oyo who later became a god. Explore how the cyclical structure of the story is another distinctive feature of African myths. Rather than moving in a straight line, African myths may start in the middle, seem to end, circle back to the beginning, and then reach a conclusion....

32 min
African Creation Stories

26: African Creation Stories

Many myths found across the globe wrestle with the concept of how the world started. African mythology is no exception, embracing a variety of philosophies including ex nihilo ("out of nothing") myths, chaos stories, and cosmology tales to explain our existence....

29 min
African Religious Cosmology

27: African Religious Cosmology

The hierarchy of African religious myths is similar to that of many Western cultures. A single god occupies a high position of authority, responsible for the overall creation of the world. In variations across Africa, this supreme creator has many different names and stories. Learn about Cagn, Jok, Ngewo, and others, as well as a plethora of lesser divinities, sprit beings, and the emergence of sh...

34 min
Tricksters of Africa

28: Tricksters of Africa

Tricksters are prevalent in mythologies around the world. From Anansi the Trickster spider to Norse Loki and Japanese Susa-no-wo, the archetype of the Trickster has resonated in storytelling worldwide. Tricksters in African myth are unrepentant troublemakers who are skilled at deception, just as they are in other folkloric traditions around the world. Often humorous, they can be interpreted as rep...

30 min
Africa's Gods and Humanity

29: Africa's Gods and Humanity

A recurring theme in African myth is the physical separation between the original creator god and humanity and how that separation came about. While there are parallels to biblical stories of the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, the many ways in which theme is explored and retold offer interesting insights into the cultural framework behind it....

32 min
Close Encounters with African Divinities

30: Close Encounters with African Divinities

Lesser divinities are often heavily involved in human affairs, even going so far as to wed or otherwise have close relations with mortals. The interactions between African gods and mortals express many different ideas about the relationship between mortal life and the divine. Examine the stories of Mregho and Ruwa, Miseke and Thunder, goddesses and mortals, and how Tricksters get involved in morta...

31 min
Culture Heroes of African Myth

31: Culture Heroes of African Myth

The earliest superheroes were the cultural heroes of mythology. Although they are known for playing pivotal parts in the founding of societies, it is often impossible to know whether they actually ever existed. And fact-based or not, they inevitably capture something essential about the characters of the societies that tell them. Compare the Mongo story of Lonkundo, the Maasai story of Le-eyo, the...

32 min
The African Morality Tale

32: The African Morality Tale

Myths about the creation of the world or the establishment of a society provide people with an important sense of shared origins and beliefs. Stories play an essential role in maintaining a code of behavior and morals and in exploring the inevitable gray areas that lead to disputes. In many cases, morality tales provide no clear right or wrong answers, but invite listeners to seek answers in discu...

29 min
The Dausi and African Epics

33: The Dausi and African Epics

The epic looms large as a storytelling genre in world mythology, and not only because its characters and tales are usually so memorable. Because of their customary length and level of detail, epics often provide a more comprehensive sense of the early cultures that spawned them than any other literary form, and many appear to incorporate genuine historical information. African mythology contains n...

31 min
The Epic of Bakaridjan Kone

34: The Epic of Bakaridjan Kone

The epic of Bakaridjan Kone is much more recent than the Dausi, but it comes from almost the same part of Africa. Much of its history was wracked by war and tensions with the peoples of the surrounding communities, many of whom had been converted to Islam. Bakaridjan's story bears clear traces of the strong Muslim influence in that society....

33 min
Death and the Afterlife in African Myth

35: Death and the Afterlife in African Myth

Since the goal of mythology is often to provide reason to the unexplainable, it is no surprise that death and the afterlife are major themes throughout African stories, expressing yearning for immortality and questioning why we die. These myths draw blatant links between the importance of following divine instructions and adhering to communal law, the consequences of human disobedience, and what i...

33 min
African Heroes in the Underworld

36: African Heroes in the Underworld

In African mythology, as in myths around the world, it's not uncommon to find characters traveling to the land of the dead to face an ultimate challenge and experiencing a transformation as a result. Become familiar with three African mythological characters who brave the land of the dead, and witness how the experience affects them. Explore the deeper meaning of those visits by viewing them in th...

33 min
Culture and Cosmos in Chinese Mythology

37: Culture and Cosmos in Chinese Mythology

Begin your journey into the mythology of Asia and the Pacific with the story of Fu Xi, which illustrates a profound truth about both Chinese society and the mythology of the Pacific Rim: culture and human relations come first. See how the importance of social networks, the omnipresence of water, and the value of sacrifice comprise the three key motifs of the myths of this region....

33 min
Chinese Heroes, Kings, and Destroyers

38: Chinese Heroes, Kings, and Destroyers

Chinese myths about the feats of culture heroes and the deeds of rulers, while relating stories about how things came to be, also engage with questions of what ought to be. Utopian stories of sage-kings are often told alongside dystopian tales of degenerate leaders. Explore the legends of the three revered kings Yao, Shun, and Yu the Great, and those of the two degenerates Jie and Zhou Xin....

32 min
Peasant Folktales and Chinese Scholarship

39: Peasant Folktales and Chinese Scholarship

After centuries of oral retellings, the myths and sayings of rural peasants were transformed into formal verse by scholars, becoming the foundation for a highly sophisticated and nuanced body of writing that profoundly shaped subsequent literature. Unfortunately, much of the originality and charm of the myths was often removed in the name of moral lessons....

32 min
Spirits and Syncretism in Korean Myth

40: Spirits and Syncretism in Korean Myth

Early Koreans interacted with the spirit world through spirit mediums, primarily women, who perform shamanic rituals and preserve cultural knowledge even up to the modern day. These traditions incorporate religious, mythological, and scholarly borrowings from Japan and China into a distinctively Korean syncretic blend....

33 min
Korea's Warring Kingdoms and Flying Dragons

41: Korea's Warring Kingdoms and Flying Dragons

Meet some pivotal figures of Korean mythology: the mythical culture hero Mireuk and his rival Seokga, the legendary king Hyokkose of Silla, and the self-sacrificing magistrate Pak Che-sang. Consider the porous border between mythology and history, and learn a trick for telling which myths have been altered by scholars....

34 min
Japanese Tales of Purity and Defilement

42: Japanese Tales of Purity and Defilement

Prepare yourself for stories of decaying goddesses, befouled maidens from the underworld, deities emerging from a parent's dirty nostrils, and the contamination of the gods' most sacred spaces with divine excrement. The mythology of this culture, which prizes purity and has strong pollution taboos, is not for the squeamish....

32 min
Gods, Rice, and the Japanese State

43: Gods, Rice, and the Japanese State

Discover how centuries of borrowing religious and political mythology from China and Korea led to a syncretic blending of political myth-making that was heavily influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism. Consider the dynastic myth of Okuninushi and his 80 brothers, and compare it to the story of the brothers Hoderi-no-mikoto and Hoori-no-mikoto....

32 min
Nature Gods and Tricksters of Polynesia

44: Nature Gods and Tricksters of Polynesia

Polynesian tales center around spirits of the natural world, some of whom are compassionate helper-deities and some, like the nasty menehune, that delight in causing trouble. Meet the supreme figures Ku and Hina, who have myriad subordinate versions; Lono, who has power over seas, clouds, and storms; and Maui, an inveterate Trickster who brings many gifts to humanity....

33 min
Creation and Misbehavior in Micronesia

45: Creation and Misbehavior in Micronesia

Compare versions of the same myths found all over Micronesia, such as the creation story of the cosmic spider and the rebellious acts of the Trickster Olofat. Consider how the missionaries, anthropologists, and other Westerners who recorded these myths left their own indelible marks....

30 min
Melanesian Myths of Life and Cannibalism

46: Melanesian Myths of Life and Cannibalism

Delve into variations of myths about the sun and moon, how humans and other creatures were created, and how death came into the world. Learn about the development of anthropology as a field of study, and see how cross-cultural misconceptions and fascinations can fuel false reports....

31 min
Origins in Indonesia and the Philippines

47: Origins in Indonesia and the Philippines

Examine many variants on common mythological themes in this region: accounts of humanity emerging from eggs, intricate tales of the origins of different animals, and stories of how humans acquired (or reacquired) fire. Compare Trickster tales of the clever, delicate mouse-deer with those of the mischievous ape....

31 min
Aboriginal and Colonial Myths of Australia

48: Aboriginal and Colonial Myths of Australia

Australian mythology, like its wildlife, has features found nowhere else. Discover the mysterious underworld, from where most of life arose from the ground; encounter the Totemic Ancestors; hear tales of the creation of the world during Dream Time; and explore the mystical songlines. Another mind-bending aspect of Australian mythology: colonial occupiers who create their own myths....

34 min
Nature in Native American Myth

49: Nature in Native American Myth

Nature spirits take on a variety of forms in various cultures. Discover the maize myths and other stories about the origins of nature in the Americas. Learn how these stories demonstrate the way people answered questions about how the world came to be as it is....

31 min
Inuit and Northern Forest Mythology

50: Inuit and Northern Forest Mythology

Hear a riveting Inuit story of Sedna, the Old Woman (or Earth Mother) who lives under the sea. You'll also encounter the Nanabushu stories and the archetype of the Trickster, who is often a cultural hero, responsible for aiding in the creation of what we know today....

30 min
Tales and Rituals of the Iroquois League

51: Tales and Rituals of the Iroquois League

Get an introduction to the "earth-diver" creation myths, and learn how many other peoples near the Iroquois and far away tell the same kind of story. You'll also consider myths that deal with the founding of various groups-different from what we normally think of as Native American myths, since they deal not with the long-ago mythic past but rather with a more recent, historical past....

30 min
Southeast Amerindian Origin Stories

52: Southeast Amerindian Origin Stories

The Southeast region of the United States was home to many different Native American cultures. Five major languages were spoken in the area, and a sign language was invented for easier inter-group communication. Learn how the constant cultural exchange resulted in an encompassing body of myths that tie the peoples together....

29 min
Mythology of the Plains Peoples

53: Mythology of the Plains Peoples

Journey through the Great Plains to look at new myths involving creatures and environments that can't be duplicated in other regions. Hear the fascinating story of the Buffalo Woman, and learn the way myths not only connect different groups of people, but also serve as a beacon of individuality....

31 min
Amerindian Tales from the Northwest

54: Amerindian Tales from the Northwest

Life on the Northwest coast did not fit our image of typical Native American civilizations. Learn about how myths helped create these societies, villages, governing systems, and even an economic hierarchy that you don't see duplicated in many other regions, but remarkably mirrors some aspects of broader society today....

32 min
The Navajo Emergence Myth

55: The Navajo Emergence Myth

Revisit the concept of "earth-diver" and "emergence" origin stories and see how they differ in the Southwest as you explore "air-spirit people" and their intriguing fables. Gain a deeper understanding of the duality of the Trickster as he both thwarts and contributes to the cultivation of the world....

31 min
Stories of the Pueblo

56: Stories of the Pueblo

Explore an excellent example of an emergence myth from the Zuni people, involving Awonawilona All-Father, his two boys, and the first writhing creatures of the deep. Compare this to a similar story from the Hopi, which stars Tewa the Sun Spirit, the culture hero Spider Grandmother, and Masauwu the Skeleton Man....

30 min
Native American Tricksters

57: Native American Tricksters

Go in-depth with the Trickster archetype. Although not exclusive to Northern American tales, the Trickster is the most popular character in Native American myths. There are likely more stories about him than about anyone else....

31 min
The Maya and the Popol Vuh

58: The Maya and the Popol Vuh

Travel down to South and Central America to learn about the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Incas. While there are many shared stories and common origins, these people maintain cultures and myths that are significantly different from those of their cousins to the north....

31 min
Aztec Myth Meets Hernan Cortes

59: Aztec Myth Meets Hernan Cortes

Mesoamericans gods have several "manifestations" or "aspects," and each different manifestation has a different appearance, different powers, and is responsible for different things. Meet some of the major characters, and learn how to follow the stories in all their iterations....

33 min
Inca Myth as Imperial Mandate

60: Inca Myth as Imperial Mandate

Comparing the Incas to the Roman Empire, you'll find some fascinating parallels, both in history and in mythology. Hear the Kolla creation story from the Incas, based on their understanding of their world, which can still speak to us across the years....

32 min