A mythology is the entirety of the myths
, and traditional beliefs of a specific culture, people, or region. The term can also mean "the study of myths," but in colloquial usage and around this wiki, expect the former meaning. Though these are often thought of as "dead" genres that only contain ancient works, most religions and cultures have mythology, and mythological stories continue to be created and reinterpreted all the time in living religions.
The terms myth and legend are used more or less interchangeably in everyday language. When things are interpreted a little more strictly, then myths are lore about gods and other entities of cosmic relevance, while legends are narratives with human protagonists. A third segment of mythology is so-called "low mythology," which encompasses folk beliefs about lesser non-human mythical beings.
Mythology is one of the oldest known genres
and exists in different media. It's certainly grounded in Oral Tradition
, but all known and troped mythological stories are necessarily Literature
. Mythology has inspired copious visual Art
since ancient times and, in some cultures, Theatre
. The modern Fantasy
genres are also strongly influenced and inspired by mythology.
Mythological narratives are (or were) not usually considered Fiction
by the people or community which create(d) them -- instead they are often interpreted as true accounts of past events or the present state of the world. As such, a mythology is directly relevant to the society that made it: Myths especially form an important part of Religion
and shape the worldview and the practices of worship of their believers. Legends supposedly record history and may evoke a sense of a cultural or national identity, as well as reinforce a society's social norms and values. All in all, mythology provides a people or community with ideas about their own place in the greater context of the universe and history. This doesn't mean it can't provide more mundane services like entertainment, too.
What distinguishes the mythological worldview from other ways of thinking is that it refers to a supposed ancient, immutable and truthful tradition as its highest authority, rather than human reasoning, first-hand experience, or science.
Bodies of mythology with their own pages: