Saturday, 15 September 2012

Mixing Mythologies

We are the heirs of all the traditions. Like our European ancestors, we can read both the Bible and Homer but we also have access to the Eddas, the Vedas etc. Mythologies have always interacted:

Lau Tzu was supposedly a contemporary of Confucius and a teacher of the Buddha;
Mani claimed to fulfill the teachings of the Buddha, Zarathustra and Jesus;
the Romans identified Zeus and Thor with Jupiter.

Modern fantasy writers, notably Neil Gaiman in The Sandman, can imagine all mythological realms as coexisting and interacting. In Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword (London, 1977):

Odin masquerades as Satan and lists "Brahm" as one of the names of Time;
a faun flees north after the Olympians have died;
the elves enslave one of the Cathayan Shen.

I am still rereading The Broken Sword so expect to find other examples.

Anderson knows that "...As..." (a god) is the singular of "Aesir" (the gods) and does not use the Marvel Comics monstrosity, "Asgardian." (p. 84)

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