What I love most about mythology is that the stories are both fantastical and so deeply rooted in the human psyche. Their messages are universal, despite the obvious mythical (and often hyperbolic) material surrounding these great stories.
When I was making the rounds marketing my debut novel, Dragonfly Warrior, I was asked so many great questions by my fellow bloggers. Many of them asked, "What inspired you to write this book?" That's easy.
All the great mythology I read growing up.
So I'd like to share just a few of my favorites that I drew direct inspiration from.
King Arthur. These stories are such a part of our cultural knowledge, it's not even funny. And I have no problem giving a nod to Monty Python either! To me, the story of King Arthur is the original "love triangle." The myth of King Arthur is really made up of a bunch of different stories all tied together. It starts out with how Arthur was first conceived (and it ain't pretty), then goes on to tell the tale of how he pulls the sword from the stone, the creation of the Knights of the Round Table, The Quest for the Holy Grail, and of course, the betrayal by Arthur's wife and his best friend.
Throw in some wizardry, Excalibur, the Lady of the Lake, and one ticked-off bastard son, and you've got one helluva an epic adventure.
The Odyssey. After the fall of troy, King Odysseus of Ithaca thinks that he's "just too cool for school." Instead of paying homage to the gods, he boasts how awesome humans are. So when he and his crew set sail for home, the gods totally mess with him, and allow him to wander the seas for a good 20 years. He's desperate to get back to his wife and son, and he's tempted with really sexy goddesses and stuff along the way. Odysseus' tale has several themes running through it. It's a morality tale, but it also focuses on how dangerous a huge ego can be. Oh, and there's no place like home.
Masamune and Muramasa. This story is about two legendary swordsmiths. Muramasa challenges his master to a contest to see who can forge the greatest sword. When they're finished, they take their swords to a river. Both dip their blades into the current. Muramasa's sword cuts everything that comes along its path - the fish, the petals of flowers, and even the air.
Masamune's sword, however, has the opposite effect. No flowers or leaves drifted by it. Instead of cutting the fish, the fish swam right up to it. Muramasa laughed at his master for creating such an inferior sword. But Masamune's blade was the finer of the two, as it couldn't kill anything innocent. Muramasa's weapon was bloodthirsty. In fact, the legend says that Muramasa's katana could never go back into its scabbard until it drew blood. The wielder either had to kill someone or commit suicide! This mythology is obviously about the yin and yang in the universe, the balance of good and evil in everything.
Mulling And The Humans. I had to include one African myth in here! So in the beginning, there were no humans. Mulling and his animals live in peace. One day, a fish finds little tiny humans in his trap, so he brings them to Mulling. The god lets the humans live and roam the earth. Humans eventually grow bigger. They build fires...and burn down some forests. They kill the animals and eat them. Humans are essentially destroying everything, which makes Mulling really angry. So what does this god do? He runs away! He climbs up to the heavens.
Kind of reminds me of the premise behind The Matrix.