Mythology is the study of myths, or sometimes it is referred to the collection of myths. Comparative mythology is the comparative study of myths from different cultures, while Greek Mythology is defined as the set or collection of myths, exclusively from the Greek culture. Myths are in fact sacred narratives, at times transferred from one generation to the next in the form of a written literary genre. In some tribal cultures, myths are passed on from each generation through ancestral stories and word of mouth. Gods, deities and demi-gods form the matrix of mythology. The characters mentioned in mythology find high renown in literature and have been kept preserved for centuries through constant reference to them. Quite understandably, in the ancient times, hunting was something of prime importance- being an essential art for survival. Those who excelled at the skill of hunting were viewed with respect by related cultures.
In Greek mythology Endymion was a handsome hunter. He is also variously perceived as a shepherd. Of the many versions, the romantic myth of Diana and Endymion has been most inspiring for many. Endymion the handsome hunter and shepherd, used to graze his flock on Mount Latmos. One night Diana; the moon goddess saw him sleeping and the cold heart of the virgin goddess was warmed by his awe inspiring beauty. She came down, kissed him and watched over his flock while he was asleep. Lines from Keats’s poem ‘Endymion’ read,
‘ ‘¦ The Sleeping Kine
Couched in thy brightness dream of fields divine.
Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,
Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes ‘¦’
Orion was a great huntsman of his time and was the most handsome giant with the gifted ability to walk over the surface of water. He served King Oinopion of Chios for some time but was blinded and exiled from the island for raping Merope; daughter of the king. Orion walked over the sea to Lemonos and requested the God Hepaistos to help him restore his lost vision. The god lended him his assistant Kedalion and instructed him to go to the place of the sunrise. On returning to Greece he looked for the king Oinopion who concealed himself evasively in an underground bronze chamber to defend against his vengeance. The giant went to Krete and accompanied the most beautiful Artemis in her hunting errands but was killed accidentally. He was given a place amongst in the stars as the constellation ‘Orion’.
In Greek Mythology, Amarynthus; son of King Abas was a hunter of the island of Euboea. The Huntress Goddess Artemis loved him and kept him her company during hunting. He insulted the Goddess of Sea who was also the Earth Shaker Goddess of earthquakes, by saying that the bounty of the Earth was superior to that of the sea. For this hubris and the arrogance against the goddess, Gods sent a huge wave towards him which washed and drowned him into the sea. Thereupon, Artemis the goddess in his love turned him to the eternal Amarynthus flower. Purplish pink color, known as Amaranth, denotes immortality in western culture. Amaranth (Food Red 9, E-123, C.I.# 16185) is also the name of a food color.
Atlanta’s father desired a son and at her birth, he left her in Arcadia to die. A female bear nourished her until she became a beautiful young woman who kept herself always armed to defend herself. Her agility and energy was unmatched and she won the wrestling match against Peleus, father of Achilles. While offering the first fruits of his harvest to gods, the King Oeneus of Clydon forgot Artemis who being displeased with the negligence, sent a huge boar to destroy his crops. To kill the boar, the king gathered the noblest of his people; the Calydonian hunters, like Arcadian’s king Cepheus of Tegea and Ancaeus who did not like the woman Atlanta in their hunting team. However Meleager, son of King Oeneus and husband of Cleopetra, who fell in love with Atlanta insisted on her inclusion. During the hunt, Atlanta was the first to shoot the boar with her arrow.
Ipabog was a Wendish (Danish) demigod. A demigod is a half god- one parent of the demigod is god, while the other parent is a human being. In some cases both parents may be human beings possessing godlike powers. Ipabog is described as a small figure with a huge head. His other salient features include a straight beard and bulging cheekbones. His attire is a formless gown reaching down to his knees with hunting equipments attached to it. He wears a round helmet with two horns.
6. Fion Mac Cumhaill
According to the Irish Mythology and also in the mythologies of Scotland and Isle of Man, Fion Mac Cumhaill is a hunter warrior, who is also known as Finn McCool. Stories of Fionn and his followers are narrated by his poet son ‘Oisin’. Fionn means white and on account of his hair going prematurely white, he was called as Fionn. In 18th century the Scottish poet James McPherson narrated these stories in epic form. Sucking his magic thumb, one day he saw that Cunhullin was coming to kill him. Since he was unable to overpower him, he shared his anxiety with his wife Oona who hid him as a baby in a cradle. His wife enticed Cunhullin to put his finger in the baby’s mouth who cut it and Cunhill lost his power, became an ordinary man, and ran away.
Mixcoatl was a God of hunt In the Mesoamerican cultures. He was the patron god of the Otomi, the chichimecs (the Mexican tribes). He was symbolized with the Milky Way. He was worshipped as the central god of Huejotzingo. He was the part of, but not the head of the Aztec Pantheon. Mixcoatl is shown ,wearing a black eye mask, prominent red and white stripes like cane candy painted on his body just like the god of dawn .While sharing some features with the god of dawn, Mixcoatl is distinguished from him by his exclusive hunting equipment including a bow , arrows and a basket for carrying the hunted game.
Broteas was the ugly son of Vulcan and Minerva (of Hephaestus and Athena in Greek Mythology). He was a famous hunter who refused to honor Artemis. In punishment thereof, Artemis induced madness in him and under its influence he offered he immolated himself .His refusal to honor Artemis, his madness, and his self immolation relate him to the hunter Acteon who too was similarly sacrificed. Borotes was one of the fighters at the marriage of Phineus. According to the tradition of the Magnetes, Broteas sculpted the oldest statue of the mother of the gods- Cybele, on the rock of Coddinos. The rock mentioned by Pausanias was rediscovered by W.M. Ramsay and is seen with its head partially torn away for natural causes.
In Greek Mythology, narcissus literally meaning sleep or numbness. Narcissus was a beautiful hunter from the region of Thespiae in Boetia. He was famous for his beauty and so proud of that he used to ignore and look down upon all those who loved him. Nemesis, the ruthless goddess of revenge was intolerant towards those who succumbed to hubris or arrogance before gods. She was displeased with the behavior of Narcissus and lured him to the edge of a pool wherein he saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with it. Being unaware of the fact that what he saw was merely his own image, he remained dedicated and in love with it and could not leave it till he, ultimately died at that spot.
10. Heracles Kynagidas
Heracles Kyngidas (Kyngidas meaning hunter) was a patron god of hunting in Macedonian Mythology. Hunting trophies were dedicated to him. In its female version, Artemis is given this status and the hunting trophies were dedicated to her. From 4th century BC to 2nd century AD, 14 inscriptions relating Heracles have been found in different locations of Macedonian Kingdom. Two inscriptions relating to Artemis have been traced in these locations. The oldest inscription has been recovered from the sanctuary of Heracles in Beroea belonging to the period 350-300 BC.
It took quite some time before the hunting tribes became the sedentary, agricultural societies- after domestication of dogs, turkey, dairy animals and horses. Prior to this period, hunting was the first priority and retained in the uppermost strata of citizen’s minds. Even romance was not free from hunting and their fanciful thinking devised Cupid. Cupid was a hunter boy, always at hunt with a bow and a quiver of arrows filled with passion and love. Most of the mythologies portray hunters with an elevated degree of respect and honor.