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Fantasy vs. Mythology

February 18, 2008

Often, people confuse fantasy with mythology. Let me clear the air and show you that there are quite a few differences between the two.

Fantasy writers often include “mythological” creatures in their writings. C.S. Lewis (“The Chronicles of Narnia”) often used both Greek and Roman mythology in his books. (This, by the way, was not supported by his friend J.R.R Tolkien, author of “The Lord of the Rings”, who disagreed with the intermixing of mythologies.)

Without some form of mythological creature, most fantasies would be a gang of people running around performing magic tricks. However, fantasy and mythology are two different things.

First of all, mythology, as practiced in the ancient world, was a religion. The worshipping of gods like Pan (faun) was a serious part of everyday life.

Secondly, mythological creatures did not mix with humans. They were revered as higher beings, never seen (in truth) by human eyes. They often punished humans for their misdeeds.

Third, in fantasy, there are many instances of mythological creatures befriending or, at times, performing small services for humans. They have no real boundaries between humans and mythological creatures.

Fourth, mythology was a very important part of many cultures. It was revered, never looked at lightly, and meant a great deal to its followers. Fantasy is merely based on those beliefs or, in some instances, it has nothing to do with it whatsoever.

Not all creatures in fantasy have basis in mythology. Those that do are not always discriminated as higher or lower than people. They are equal. That is the main conflicting factor between fantasy and mythology.

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