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Mythical Motifs
Mythical motifs are similar to Animal Motifs, but with mythical creatures being used as symbols. They, like animals, can be used to underline something important in the plot or to convey a character's personality. A particularly tough and quick-tempered character may be compared to a dragon, or a MacGuffin or delicate-but-powerful or wise character may be compared to a unicorn.

It can also be the use of mythology as a motif.

Here is a partial list of mythical creatures:

  • Gorgon: Hideous monsters, causes people to turn to stone (from the Medusa myth)
  • Hydra: Many headed creature, where if you cut off one head, two more grow in its place.note 
  • Pegasus (or winged horses in general): Freedom, high ideals, thought. Can be called "horse of the poets" thanks to his connection with Athena and the Muses, so is also linked with imagination, and writers in particular.
  • Phoenix: A flaming bird capable of rising again from the ashes: Death and rebirth; fire; eternal life; (Eastern) female.
  • Ouroboros: A serpent eating its own tail: Infinity, alchemy, death and rebirth; lives at the edge of the world or at its base
  • Salamander
  • Sphinx: Cunning, mystery, riddles, desires. Terribly mysterious.
  • Unicorn: Purity, rarity, magic, power (which goes against tradition, 'cause in heraldry they are chained down because they're violent MFs). Usually the last of its kind. Often associated with virgins.
  • Mermaid


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam, the Unicorn is the symbol of the Cool Ship White Base. Later on in life, Gundam pilot Amuro Ray adopts it as his own.
  • Most of the guilds in Fairy Tail have a mythical motif in their name, including the titular Fairy Tail (fairies), Quatro Cerberos, Blue Pegasus, Lamia Scale, Grimoire Heart (Devils), Phantom Lord and recently Sabertooth and Mermaid Heel.

Comics
  • HYDRA, the ersatz SPECTRE (who incidentally use the very similar motif of the octopuss), in the Marvel Universe.
  • Phoenix from X-Men. She is a nurturing, subtly powerful figure with a hot temper, and holds untapped power that the others around her cannot quite match or comprehend.

Film
  • Rick Deckard in Blade Runner has a Unicorn motif, unlike the rest of the cast with regular Animal Motifs.
  • The murders in Sherlock Holmes are based of the parts of a Sphinx, the migget-the face of a man, the Sir Thomas the tail of a bull, the American ambassador the wings of an eagle, and the British parliament the body of a lion.

Literature
  • Mayland Long (Oolong) from Tea With The Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy.
  • Several characters in The Circus of Doctor Lao.
  • The dragon Smaug in The Hobbit.
  • The Ordo Hydra, another conspiracy group, in the Inquistion War Trilogy by Ian Watson ( a series of Warhammer 40000 novels). They are a secret group in the already secret group of the Ordo Malleus who are already part of the "mostly ignored of by the general population" group, the Inquisition. They are really secretive.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire the Targaryen have a three headed dragon as their coat of arms. The dragon heads represented Aegon, and his sisters, as well as their three dragons. The old Ghiscari Empire had the Harpy as their sigil, the cities of Slaver's Bay kept it as their heritage.

Tabletop Games
  • The Dragonmarked Houses in Eberron.
  • The Alpha Legion from Warhammer 40,000 have the hydra as their symbol, representing the doctrine of autonomous operation and the ability to have multiple fronts who can act even without chains of command (the "head" being removed).
    • The Thousand Sons, on the other hand, use the Ouroboros to signify their mystical nature.
  • In the Iron Kingdoms, the Retribution of Scyrah fields myrmidons named after mythical beasts and often designed after the traits of their namesake ; the Phoenix is a perfect example with its regenerating force field and ability to bathe its surroundings in a roaring inferno.

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