marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,


Stealing deriving your mythology from a single real-world source has its advantages -- as with your monsters -- but one thing it doesn't prevent is a clutter of contradictory myths.  How many places was Jupiter born?  Is Apollo or Helios the god of the sun?  Does Persephone come up from the Underworld for the summer, or do the spirits of the dead always find her presiding as the Queen of the Underworld?

Indeed, a world where the myths are too tidy and neat comes across as thin.  Partly because there are generally too few myths, but the schematic nature doesn't help.

On the other hand, if the gods are running about --

If you keep them off stage, or mostly off-stage -- vague portents or even brief appearances with little more than hi/goodbye -- you can evade the issue and make the myths incompatible.  But even that may be frustrating to the reader.  And if you bring them onstage fully, it's going to put the issue front and center.

A mass of compatible and non-contradictory myths is possible.  Needs to be fit into the whole spirit of the world.  humm.  The dead always find Persephone in the Underworld because when she passes over the River Styx, inaugurating winter, the dead are allowed to cross, but when she returns to inaugurate spring, the dead are trapped.  So it's unlucky to die in the spring or summer -- especially early in the spring -- but lucky to die in the winter.  Nasty kings delay executions to ensure that the ghosts have to wander before they find rest.  Necromancers find it easy to talk to the dead who died after the opening of spring that year, but earlier is difficult if not impossible.   Etc!

And then there's the bold faced "They're all true" approach.  (And not please because the beliefs of the worshipers make the gods.  shudder.)

There is the farcical comic approach that brazens it out; it doesn't matter that it doesn't cohere because the story, aesthetically, doesn't need it.  I won't like the story, mostly likely, but it doesn't need it.

Then there is heating it all up and fusing it into an aesthetic coherent thing despite the contradictions.  To pull this off, the gods need to be transcendental beings of awe and mystery.   The sort of beings who can say I was born to three mothers and convince you that it's true and how transcends your ability to understand it.  Harder than any other approach but really impressive if you pull it off. 
Tags: aesthetics, world-building: deities, world-building: metaphysics

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