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I am currently in the process of building my fantasy world, specifically the history of the fantastical world. So, I've been contemplating the essential elements used to construct a cohesive and integrated mythology for the fantasy world. By "elements," I don't mean, for instance, the creation story or how the dark lord turned evil. Specifically, what I'm looking for are elements akin to Zeus' association with lightning and thunder in Greek mythology, where Zeus represents the sky, lightning, thunder, law, order, and justice, or like Hades, who represents death and the underworld.

I'm looking for similar elements or traits to build the mythology of my world. So, I would like around ten or 36 of the most important elements to construct a cohesive mythology. To provide you with some context, I'll explain some of the absolute entities in my world that I plan to create.

World Explanation:

My world initially consists of a complex entity that is challenging to explain here, but to be concise, my world resembles parallel dimensions where hundreds of worlds are connected through a mental artery. These worlds float in a space called the 'Imagination Field.' So, the fantasy world is one of these multiple worlds, which is a bubble called 'Alafkarwo-Logiata' (the name might be challenging to pronounce, so there's no need to read it).

Inside this bubble exists an entity known as the 'Weaver of Imagination,' and these Weavers exist in every bubble, being the absolute entities of these bubbles. Meaning, they can do anything and create anything they want.

This Weaver or, as it's known (Aro-Aro Eltharion-Elwakthar), created the known universe, a vast cosmos with galaxies, planets, stars, and various celestial bodies. However, for an unknown reason, Aro decided to create something peculiar in this space and separated it from the stellar cosmos.

This peculiar thing is the world 'Yaronthea' (my fantasy world), and it's a vast, flat land no similar to planets. Aro then created seeds and breathed into them with a force called 'Alarogmata,' creating two types of mighty entities: 'Alayans' and 'Alkarya.'

The Alkarya, being 36 entities and a few hundred Alayans, were stronger due to their excessive absorption of the Alarogmata's energy. Meanwhile, the Alayans, while less potent, were still extremely powerful, numbering in the hundreds.

Aro assigned one task to both Alayans and Alkarya: to embellish Yaronthea (the world) with their unique creations and craft a beautiful world. Then, he left them to do as they pleased. Here is where the story shortens; after thousands of years, Alayans and Alkarya split into four different groups: Light, Darkness, Idols, and the Indolents.

The Light, consisting of 18 luminous Alkarya and a few hundred Alayans, aimed to suppress the Darkness and Idols from corrupting the world, creating a peaceful world filled with light.

On the other hand, the Darkness, equal to the Light, with 18 dark Alkarya and a few hundred Alayans, aimed to bring balance to the world, believing in a philosophy that if there is good, there must be evil, and if there is light, there must be darkness. Thus, they opposed the Light in an eternal war but did not seek to destroy the world; instead, they brought balance with dark beings they created.

Then comes the third group, the Idols, the most malevolent. They are a group of Alayans who grew tired of the world, and the 36 Alkarya controlled them due to their abundance in Alarogmata's energy. So, they decided to destroy it all, creating demons and sowing discord between the two major groups, Light and Darkness, escalating the conflict. The Idols were not stronger, but they were more cunning than the others, and they were immortal, making it impossible for the Light and Darkness to kill them, despite their immense strength.

Finally, there's the last group, the Indolents, a group of peculiar Alayans who didn't want to interfere with the world, remaining in their respective domains to enjoy peace of mind. Therefore, they were named the Indolents.

Well, this is a brief overview of my mythology, and now I need elements to assign to the influential characters to write the history of the world.

My question may seem multifaceted, but I'll simplify it: I want the elements only. If you have any advice, it's appreciated, but I mainly need the elements

Some meanings may differ due to poor translation. I apologize

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  • $\begingroup$ Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ I've added the problem. Which is the search for elements of chithology. While I explained in enough detail to answer $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ You get to decide what is important not us. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ VTC:Opinion-based. Who decides what's "most important?" 10-36 answers is open-ended, which is prohibited in the help center. Asking a question where no answer is any more valuable than another is also prohibited. We embrace the concept of list answers, but the question must still be specific and asked with the expectation of one best answer. Brainstorming open-list questions are off-topic. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH --- Well, mythologers & folklorists for one! There are people who study and analyse these kinds of stories, they may compare them both across cultures and also through time. They categorise them they determine things like "important" vs unimportant elements. They can reconstruct missing pieces. While I agree with you that a question like this "opinion based", it is not of the same order as a query like "what colour should the Princess of Gampf wear to her second divorce from the Archon of Alcoria". This question may elicit opinions, but those can be based in real world scholarship. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 19:40

3 Answers 3

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Back to Basics


If I understand you correctly, it seems that what you're working towards is a sort of taxonomic codification of mythological material. In my own world, this is called sawyery, deriving from the word saw, meaning a story or a saga. It is the study & categorisation of old lore and newer variants.


Essentially, you're going to want to determine the most appropriate and fundamental realities for your world's circumstance. You've got some fundamental infrastructure (the parallel dimensions and mental arteries) that I don't think exist in the real world, so you're likely to have need of categories that a real world mythologer or sawyer wouldn't have.


I would argue that you've already listed some really good categories to start with. You've mentioned some physical realities like the sky and weather as well as some sophont realities like justice and law. Your task, quite simply, is to determine which of all of these realities are most important to your people. For that, you're going to be looking into their biology, their mental, spiritual, physiological natures, their evolution, their cultures, their ideologies, their cognitive capacities and the like.


Fortunately, real world mythologers have done quite a bit of leg work in this direction! You can hardly go wrong in delving into the Motif Indexes such as were laid out by Stith Thompson. Along those lines, you might find this classification of deities useful in getting you started.

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This answer takes the question at face value, assuming that the asker is a would-be mythographer really interested in constructing a mythology.

Note that a mythology is not a religion and it is not a summary list of gods and their areas of action or responsibility. It is a set of stories, which may or may not be in harmony with the religion and the areas of responsibility of the gods.

TL;DR

A mythology is simply a collection of stories about the gods. In the context of a mythology, the gods are simply human-like very powerful characters. A culture which has abstract gods will not have a well-developed mythology, because abstract gods, being abstract, do not have adventures. Constructing a mythology is not really different from constructing any other set of stories. List your characters with their virtues, vices, strengths, and weaknesses, invent plots, flesh them out.

Long-winded

I seems to me that the question shows a certain degree of misunderstanding of what a mythology is. It is a collection of stories. It is never fully coherent, because the stories were created and told and retold and embellished by hundreds, thousands, of different authors, with different goals and for different audiences. The Hebrew and Christian mythology collected in the set of books known as the Bible is only semi-coherent, but it is nevertheless a thousand times more coherent than the endless luxuriant jungle of the Greek mythology.

Do not take the short and bowdlerized high-school summary of the classical Greek mythology as if it represents something which really existed outside high-school textbooks. That high-school overview is just a rose-tinted brief introduction strictly for the use of high-school pupils.

Then, the question gives the example of Zeus "representing the sky, lightning, thunder, law, order, and justice". This might be a (misremebered) modern view, developed two thousand years after the death of the classical Greek religion. In the actual mythological stories Zeus does not represent anything. He is a character in many of the stories, but definitely not in all the stories. His attributes are not fully consistent. And Hades does not "represent" death: he is the immortal ruler of the underworld, with power over the shadows of the dead. The god who personifies death is Thanatos.

(By the way, the god who really is the sky is of course Uranus. Zeus may live up there on Mount Olympus, and he may use thunderbolts as a weapon, but he is not the sky. And I have no idea from where the question got it that Zeus has anything to do with justice. That would be Themis. Or maybe Dike, if we are speaking of moral justice. Zeus may be taken to represent law enforcement, at least in some of the stories. But he can be as capricious and self-centered as any other of the very much human-like gods of the classical Greek mythology.)

Now, the first design element to be set is whether your fantasy world even has a mythology; the ancient Greeks, and the Indians, and the ancient Gemanic people had well-developed mythologies: but the ancient Romans did not. And, you know, in the end it was the Romans who took over Greece, and not the other way around, showing that having a well-developed mythology is not really strictly necessary.

To decide whether the fantasy world has a well-developed mythology, the question to be answered is what kind of gods it has. A mythology needs human-like gods, who have adventures and desires, who sometimes win their battles and sometimes lose. The alternative is to have almost purely abstract gods, in the Roman style, gods who are not at all similar to powerful humans, but are more in the nature of abstract ideas, gods who do not mingle with humans, do not have adventures, and who really "represent" stuff.

Then, assuming that it is decided that the fantasy world will have a mythology, the second design element to be considered is what kind of mythology it will have.

You can take the example of the Germanic mythology, which is constructed as a not-so-large set of stories of the lives and adventures of some really powerful, but not all-powerful, and long lived, but not really immortal, characters, who have a beginning and an end.

Or you can take the example of the classical Greek mythology, which is a very large set of stories of the ancient adventures of really really powerful explicitly immortal characters, who have a beginning but have no end.

Or you can take the example of the Indian mythology, which is a completely incoherent, endless collection of stories about an ill-defined set of characters, some very powerful, some not really all that powerful, who may of may not be really gods, and who may or may not be aspects of the One.

But then, what's the goal?

Constructing a full-blown mythology is hard. It is not a secondary project; it is the project. I don't know of any book, film, whatever, which has a fully-developed mythology behind the actual stories in the book, or film, or whatever.

So then, the obvious question is, why would one want to develop a mythology behind the fantastic stories? After all, the fantastic stories are themselves a mythology. Why bother to create another set of stories, which are not intended to be told?

How-to

If I understand the question correctly, it is about how to make a list of attributes of characters, which can then be assigned to a list of characters, which can then be involved in plots, which can then be fleshed out into stories.

What you want is a book of emblems. Many such books have been compiled and published, mostly in the 1500s to the 1700s. For example, at Archive.org:

  • Caesar Ripa's Iconologia, or, Moral Emblems, in English, London, 1709.

    An extract from the index: Agriculture, Ambition, America, Amity, Anger, Apprehension, Apulia, Architecture, Aristocracy, Arithmetic, Arrogance, Art, Artifice, Asia, Assiduity, Assistance, Astronomy, Avarice, Authority, etc. etc.

  • Andrea Alciati's Emblemata, in Latin, Lyon, 1551. This is the foundational emblem book, the prototype of them all. It lists Virtues, Vices, Love, Luck, Statehood, Friendship, Enmity, Revenge, Peace, Ignorance, Marriage, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ Re stories with mythologies: I'm not sure I'd call it fully developed, but Tolkien certainly tried to have a mythology of sorts in his Legendarium. But he only used like 1% of it in LotR, so maybe that was not the best use of his time (if you think that LotR was the "main" story of the Legendarium, which is certainly debatable in its own right). $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Kevin: Yes, Tolkien did attempt to create a full-blown mythology. The LoTR is just as much part of the mythology as The Silmarillion. (The Hobbit is the only story which stands out as just a story set in the world instead of part of the mythology of the world.) This is actually my point: creating a mythology is not a side project, it is the project. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ Part of the mix for ancient Greek religions is that each town seemed to have their own version of the dominant religion. Different towns gave different attributes to their deity. Small towns had one temple, one deity, no collection of deities with different attributes. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidR: While it is correct that small towns had one temple or at least only a few temples etc. this is misleading. Of course nobody had temples for all the gods, just like not even the richest Christian city has churches for all the saints. But even if a small town only had a temple for, say, Hercules, this does not mean that they didn't know who Zeus or Hera or Athena or Apollo or Artemis etc. were, and it does not mean that either the town as a whole or individual residents did not send delegations or go personally to Delphi or Olympia. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidR: As for each city practicing a local variant of the religion, I just don't see how this is surprising or unexpected. Of course they did, just like today the actual practice of religion varies from place to place. For example, the feast day of Saint Parakeva is a big thing is some parts of Romania, but I bet it's not a big thing at all in, say, St. Petersburg; or like the Day of the Dead is a big thing in Mexico, but not so much in France. (And then, of course, religion and mythology are two very different things.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 15:35
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There are Gods for everything that is important... To them

Them being the inhabitants of your world.

Consider Tolkein - You have Aule - The God of the Forge because metalworking and crafting is important to all peoples of Middle Earth

Consider the Maori - they have no history of Metalworking and so have no God of the Forge - but they do have Haumia-tiketike - God of Uncultivated plants and Rongomātāne - God of Cultivated plants. Both of these concepts were important to Maori - that which was Forged wild and that which was deliberately grown.

Consider the Egyptians - they don't have Volcanoes - so they don't have a deity for it, but they do for Earthquakes like the Maori have a god for Earthquakes, however they also have a Desert (which the Maori do not) and so they have Set - the God of the Desert.

I could go on through various mythologies - Roman, Greek, Nordic etc. but the secret is to decide what things the groups of people in your story consider important - what are things which can Kill you if you don't respect their power (storms, Earthquakes, Deserts etc.) and what things can Kill you if you don't have them (Healing, Wisdom, Knowledge etc.)

Then decide how you want to differentiate them - for example the Greeks had 2 gods of War: Ares - the Masculine form - God of Bloodshed, Violence and Slaughter and my personal Favourite - Athena - the Feminine form - God of Battle Cunning, Deception and Strategy.

Ares will rip your arm off and beat you to death with it. Athena will trap your arm and let your other enemy finish you off.

Both represent different aspects of War - which IMO the Greeks rather astutely observed and divided into the Masculine and Feminine forms (one relying on the Strength of Arms, the other having to rely on wits and cunning).

As a rule - the longer a civilization remains and the larger and more complex the society that forms, the more Gods will spring up and the more differentiated the Gods will be - for example the Maori have a single god for War and Hunting, whereas the Greeks have several to cover different aspects of these concepts.

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