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A Dictionary of Greek Myths & Norse Mythology

I was reading Plato in middle school, and become so obsessed with Greek mythology I got a PhD in Comparative Literature… but that was a long time ago, when I was a poor grad student learning to write ancient Greek and Chinese characters by hand at the train station.

Now I write novels, and it’s super rewarding – especially when I get to base my stories on classic Greek mythology. My books go deep on more obscure myths from world folklore, but I hope to share my passion for these characters by creating a new series featuring lore, legends and fan art from each ancient god, goddess, demigod, supernatural creature or demon…

For now, start with free dictionary of mythology, organized by region/culture. It’s quick cheatsheet and will be very cool once I add art.

Greek Mythology

  • Zeus (Zues): The king of the gods, ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky, lightning, thunder, and law.
  • Athena: Goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, and warfare.
  • Aphrodite: Goddess of love and beauty.
  • Ares: God of war.
  • Artemis: Goddess of the hunt, wilderness, and childbirth.
  • Atlas: Titan condemned to hold up the sky for eternity.
  • Eros: God of love and desire.
  • Hekate (Hecate): Goddess of magic, witchcraft, and crossroads.
  • Scylla: A monstrous sea nymph turned into a creature with six dog heads.
  • Hades: God of the underworld.
  • Persephone: Queen of the underworld, wife of Hades, and goddess of spring growth.
  • Dionysus: God of wine, pleasure, and festivity.
  • Minotaur: A creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man, confined to the Labyrinth in Crete.
  • Hephaestus: God of metalworking and craftsmanship.
  • Ares: God of war.
  • Hydra: A multi-headed serpent that regrows its heads when cut off.
  • Hera: Queen of the gods and goddess of marriage and childbirth.
  • Aeolus: Keeper of the winds.
  • Basilisc: A serpent or dragon known to kill with its gaze.
  • Adonis: A youth loved by both Aphrodite and Persephone.
  • Daphne: A nymph who was turned into a laurel tree to escape Apollo’s advances.
  • Cerberus: The three-headed dog guarding the gates of the underworld.
  • Morpheus: God of dreams.
  • Centaur: A creature with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse.
  • Nemesis: Goddess of retribution.
  • Nymph: Minor nature goddesses.
  • Chimera: A creature with parts from different animals, often lion, goat, and serpent.
  • Hestia: Goddess of the hearth and home.
  • Helios: Titan god of the sun.
  • Medusa: Once a beautiful woman, Medusa was cursed with snake hair and a gaze that turns anyone to stone.
  • Erinyes: Deities of vengeance.
  • Echidna: Mother of monsters and half-woman, half-snake.
  • Hyperion: Titan of heavenly light.
  • Sirens: Creatures that lured sailors with their enchanting music.
  • Nyx: Primordial goddess of the night.
  • Prometheus: Titan who defied Zeus to bring fire to humanity.
  • Thanatos: God of death.
  • Perseus: A hero known for beheading Medusa.
  • Gorgon: Three sisters, including Medusa, known for their petrifying gaze.
  • Manticore: A creature with the body of a lion, wings of a bat, and the face of a man.
  • Rhea: Titaness and mother of many Olympian gods.
  • Harpy: A creature with the body of a bird and the head of a woman.
  • Poisedon (Poseidon): God of the sea.
  • Satyr: Creatures with human upper bodies and the legs of goats.
  • Thalia: Muse of comedy and pastoral poetry.
  • Priapus: Minor god of fertility.
  • Maia: One of the Pleiades and mother to Hermes.
  • Psyche: Mortal woman who became the wife of Eros.
  • Io: Mortal woman and lover of Zeus, turned into a cow to hide her from Hera.
  • Lamia: A woman turned into a child-eating monster.
  • Chiron: The wisest of all centaurs.

Japanese Mythology

  • Shinto God of War: There isn’t one specific god of war in Shinto mythology, but several kami (deities) have martial attributes. One example is Hachiman, the god of war and archery.
  • Shinigami: Spirits associated with death, similar in nature to the Western Grim Reaper, though they can be plural.
  • Qilin: While Qilin is often associated with Chinese mythology, it’s known in Japan as “Kirin.” It’s a mythical hooved chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures.

Egyptian Mythology

  • God of Death: Anubis, god of mummification and afterlife. He has a jackal’s head and is known for guiding souls in the underworld.
  • Eye of Horus: An ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power, and good health.
  • Osiris: God of the afterlife, death, and resurrection.
  • Ankhesenamun: Wife of the famous Pharaoh Tutankhamun, not a goddess but a significant figure in Egyptian history.
  • Ashera: Often associated with Canaanite mythology rather than Egyptian. Asherah is a mother goddess.

Norse Mythology

  • Sakaar: It’s not from Norse mythology but a fictional planet from the Marvel Universe. However, Thor, a Norse god, is featured there in the Marvel adaptations.
  • Jormungandr: The Midgard Serpent, a sea serpent so large it can encircle the world.
  • Asgard: The heavenly realm where the Aesir tribe of deities resides.
  • Freya: Goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, and war.
  • Mimir: A being known for his knowledge and wisdom.
  • Helm of Awe: A symbol of protection and might, but also of the power to achieve one’s aims.
  • Ragnarok: The series of events that will bring about the end of the world, where gods, giants, and creatures will perish in battle.
  • Valknut: A symbol associated with the god Odin, death, and the afterlife.
  • Niflheim: One of the Nine Worlds, a place of ice, cold, and mist.

Slavic Mythology

  • Baba Yaga: A witch-like character who flies around in a mortar, wielding a pestle. She can be malevolent or benevolent, depending on specific tales.
  • Koschei: Often known as Koschei the Deathless, he’s a powerful and evil figure associated with a particular tale of kidnapping the hero’s wife.

Other Mythologies and Folklore

  • Medusa (Greek): A gorgon with snakes for hair. Those who look into her eyes turn to stone.
  • Cleopatra (Historical): Not a mythical figure but the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt.
  • Phoenix Bird (Various): A mythical bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.
  • Pied Piper (German Legend): A rat-catcher from Hamelin who lured rats and then children away with his magical pipe.
  • Emerald Tablets (Alchemy): A text attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and influential on alchemists.
  • Wendigo (Algonquian folklore): A mythical man-eating creature or evil spirit.
  • Immurement (Practice): The practice of entombing someone within a structure, where they die from lack of food and water. Not a mythological creature but a dark historical practice.
  • Enochian (Magical system): A system of ceremonial magic centered on the evocation and commanding of spirits. It’s based on the 16th-century writings of John Dee and Edward Kelley.
  • Oshun (Yoruba): A goddess of love, beauty, wealth, and divine order.
  • Baron Samedi (Vodou): One of the Loa of Haitian Vodou, Baron Samedi is the loa of the dead.
  • Seal of Solomon: A magical signet ring attributed to King Solomon in medieval Islamic tradition, later also in Jewish and Western occultism.
  • Charybdis (Greek): A sea monster or whirlpool that threatens sailors.
  • Faerie (Celtic): Mythological creatures or spirits, often described as metaphysical, supernatural, or preternatural.
  • Jian Shi (Jiangshi, Chinese): Also known as a hopping vampire or hopping corpse, it’s a reanimated corpse in Chinese legends and folklore.
  • Lilith (Jewish folklore): Often associated with the mythological female demon, later folklore portrays Lilith as Adam’s first wife.
  • Greek Fire (Byzantine Empire): Not a myth but a weapon. It was a technological invention of the Byzantine Empire, an incendiary weapon used in naval warfare.
  • Aztlan (Aztec): The ancestral home of the Nahua tribes, believed to be an island.
  • Tiamat (Babylonian): A chaos monster, a primordial goddess of the ocean.
  • Jacob’s Ladder (Biblical): A ladder to heaven that the biblical Patriarch Jacob dreams about.
  • Centurion (Roman): Not mythical, but historical. A centurion was a professional officer in the Roman army.
  • Fertility Goddess (Various): A goddess that represents fertility and motherhood. Examples include Isis from Egyptian mythology and Freyja from Norse mythology.
  • Aluxe (Mayan): Also known as Alux, these are spirits of the forest in Mayan tradition.
  • Manananggal (Philippine folklore): A creature known to sever its upper torso to fly at night and suck the blood from sleeping victims.
  • Hatshepsut (Historical): A female pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt.
  • Kratos (Greek): Represents strength and might, but notably, the God of War video games depict Kratos in a narrative that is not traditional to ancient myths.
  • Orichalcum: A metal mentioned in several ancient writings, most famously in the story of Atlantis as described by Plato.
  • Fiji Mermaid: A common feature of sideshows, it’s an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish.
  • Lovelock Cave: An archaeological site in Nevada, not a myth but has ties to Paiute Native American legends.
  • Ark of the Covenant: A gold-covered wooden chest described in the Book of Exodus that contains the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.
  • Vajra (Buddhist): A ritual object symbolizing both the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force).