GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

Web sites, TV, films, books and the search for meaning.

Gods and monsters

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Dragons, deities, fabled lands: Encyclopedia Mythica has 7,000 articles about ’em — enough to hook you for hours.

And the pantheon goes far beyond the usual Jupiter and Odin. A little browsing will take you to Huwe of the African Bushmen, the Spider Woman of the Navaho, and the Chinese Yellow Emperor — said to have formed spontaneously at the dawn of time.

Then there are the beasts: the giant, condor-like Roc from the Arab world, the chimeric Yali of India, Behemoth and Leviathan from the Bible, the Kraken from Norway, even Sasquatch from North America.

A long article on dragons duly notes differences between European and Asian breeds. Another points out that Indra, a Persian demon, is different from the Vedic god of the same name.

As in other encyclopedias, context can be spotty. The article on Excalibur cites five ponds as the possible resting place of Arthur’s famed sword. But the piece about Atlantis gives only one of the 20 or so candidates for the legendary kingdom.

Also spotty are the 276 images in the picture gallery. Most are Greek or Roman. Hindus, Aztecs, Norse and Mayas each have less than a dozen. And most of the pictures are disappointingly small.

But the encyclopedia has handy tools. One lets you grow or shrink the text. And once you’re deep in the site, a separate frame shows the subdirectory you came from. So you can do keyword searches, then return without hitting the back arrow a lot.


Written by Jim Davis

September 19, 2008 at 4:44 am

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