Q:

What characteristics do myths, fables, legends and folktales have in common?

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Quick Answer

Myths, fables, legends and folktales are all stories originally passed on through word of mouth, and all have endured as both teaching tools and entertainment. While myths, fables and legends appeal to children and adults alike, folktales are often written primarily toward children.

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Full Answer

Myths are cultural tales that address the "big picture" questions of life, death, creation and the human condition. Fables are those short stories that feature anthropomorphized animals conveying special lessons or morals. Legends have a basis in truth, often telling the story of a heroic character imbued with mystical qualities. Folktales are primarily passed down through generations by mouth. There are usually several versions of a folktale, and the original author is seldom known. Folktales are sometimes known as "urban legends."

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  • Q:

    Why do we study mythology?

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    Mythology is studied because myths are ways in which cultures attempt to explain the world and answer questions of human concern. For instance, mythology delves into such basic debates as good versus evil or looks into the nature of man.

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  • Q:

    What special powers did the Greek goddess Hera have?

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    As Queen of the Olympians and wife of Zeus, Hera's special powers were varied and far-reaching; transmogrification, asexual reproduction, disguise, banishing mortals to Hades and the summoning of fierce and legendary creatures (such as Hydras and Dragons) were all attributed to her by various myths. She was considered the goddess of women and marriage, and to a lesser extent the skies. In depictions, although Hera is more difficult to identify than the other Olympian goddesses, she is typically seated wearing a crown and veil while holding a royal scepter.

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  • Q:

    Where did Artemis live?

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    In the Ancient Greek myths, Artemis is an adolescent to post-adolescent huntress most often found wandering through the forests and wilderness, dancing in groves or hunting in shadowy mountains. She was also associated with the moon, though she is not said to have been the moon, necessarily.

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  • Q:

    What are some mythological stories that feature Demeter?

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    One of the most famous Greek myths about Demeter involves the goddess cursing the earth after her daughter Persephone is kidnapped by Hades and taken to the underworld, causing plants to wither and die, and leaving the ground barren. In this myth, Persephone is eventually rescued but is forced to return to the underworld for four months of the year. During Persephone's absence, Demeter withdraws from the world and grieves for her daughter, causing winter.

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