Welcome to week 20 of the Folklore and Mythology Thursday blogposts. This week I’ll focus on figures from myth and folklore whose names start with ‘t’, including; Tiresias, Tuatha Dé Danann, Tapio, Triglav, Tuoni, Tahmuras, the Thens, and Tengu.
The son of the nymph Chariclo and Everes, Tiresias is the blind seer of Thebes who was so wise “that even his ghost had kept his wits, and [had] not been overcome by forgetfulness like other inhabitants of the underworld” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:88). Tiresius plays a part in various myths, including:
- advising Odysseus that “he would never return to Ithaca if he harmed the cattle of Helios, the sun god” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:88)
- warning King Pentheus about the identity of Dionysus when the god came to Thebes in disguise (Pentheus’ refusal to listen to Tiresias leads, ultimately, to his death at the hands of the god’s worshippers)
- Tiresias confirms the Delphic Oracle that it was King Oedipus who “was personally responsible for the plague which troubled the Thebans” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:88)
(see Cotterell & Storm, 2007:88).
There are various stories which explains Tiresias’s blindness. In one of these myths Tiresias is blinded by the goddess Hera, but given a long life and the gift of prophecy by the god Zeus (see Cotterell & Storm, 2007:88).
Tuatha Dé Danann
The Tuatha Dé Danann (’people of the goddess Dana’) “were the last generation of gods to rule Ireland before the invasion of the sons of Milesius, the ancestors of the present-day Irish”(Cotterell & Storm, 2007:172). Cotterell & Storm (2007:172) notes that the Tuatha Dé Danann overcame the Fomorii at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh “largely because of their superior magic”.
The Tuatha Dé Danann “learned magic, crafts and knowledge in four marvelous cities of the north, Falias, Gorias, Finias and Murias” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:172). From these four cities they brought four talismans (see also Cotterell & Storm, 2007:172):
- the Stone of Fal
- the sword of Nuada
- the spear or sling-shot of the sun god Lugh
- the cauldron belonging to Dagda
After their defeat by the Milesians, the Tuatha Dé Danann went underground, living beneath grassy mounds that contained a “sidhe, a subterranean court which glittered with wonders within” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:172). See also The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends by P.B. Ellis (2002).
Tapio is the Finnish forest god “who, along with his wife Meilikki and his son Nyyrikki, was believed to ensure that woodland game remained in plentiful supply” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:232). Cotterell & Storm (2007:232) notes that there is also a dangerous side to him “as he enjoyed tickling or smothering people to death”. Tapio is “often portrayed as wearing a cloak of moss and a bonnet of fire” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:232). Cotterell & Storm (2007:232) further states that “[along] with other sylvan deities, [Tapio] was lord not just of forest plants, but also of forest beasts and the herds of woodland cattle”.
Triglav is the “three-headed god of the Slavs living in central Europe” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:240). See Cotterell & Storm (2007:240) for more about the temples at Stettin and the war-booty due to the god.
Tuoni is the Finnish god of the dead who lives in a dark world called Tuonela (see Cotterell & Storm, 2007:240). “With his wife Tuonetar he had several children who were deities of suffering, including Kipu-Tytto, goddess of illness” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:240). Vainamoinen is one of the few heroes who manage to escape from Tuoni and Tuonela (see Cotterell & Storm, 2007:240 and the Kalevala).
Moving on to Iranian mythology, Tahmuras is the son of Hoashyanga (the first king), who taught people to spin and weave and train birds of prey (see Cotterell & Storm, 2007:320). Tahmuras had to take up arms against the Daevas and managed to capture two-thirds using his magic and killed the remainder with his club. (see Cotterell & Storm, 2007:320).
“The daevas pleaded for mercy” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:320), promising to teach Thamuras a great secret if he should spare their lives. “Tahmuras relented and … [they] taught him how to write and made him extremely wise and learned” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:320).
“[According] to the people of Laos and northern Thailand” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:479) the Thens are the “three divine ancestors who, together with three great men, Pu Lang Seung, Khun K’an and Khun K’et, established human society (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:479).
The myths of the Thens also contains a great flood myth (see Cotterell & Storm, 2007:479) (similar to that in the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh).
“The three great men taught the people how to cultivate fields and how to weave” (Cotterell & Storm, 2007:479). For further myths about the Thens, the coming of the different peoples and how other skills were taught to the Thais, see Cotterell & Storm (2007:479).
In Japanese folklore the Tengu are supernatural creatures that are sometimes worshipped as Shinto kami (see Rosen, 2009:373). “Tengu are usually depicted as kites or other birds of prey, but, even in bird form, they often have human characteristics. Their bird beak may become a long nose or they may have a human body with a bird’s wings, head, or beak. As Kami, Tengu may take the form of beaked, winged figures with snakes wrapped around their limbs, riding a fox” (Rosen, 2009:373).
See also Rosen (2007:373) for further information and myths surrounding the Tengu.
Sources and Other Websites
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Also be sure to stop by Ronel’s blog for her folklore and fiction posts!
Cotterell, A. & R. Storm. (2007). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology. London: Hermes House.
Rosen, B. (2008). The Mythical Creatures Bible. London: Sterling Publishing.
The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends by P.B. Ellis (2002) is also a book I have read, enjoyed and can recommend.