Many books, like ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ contain symbolism.
Dmitriy Os Ivanov/Shutterstock.com
Authors sometimes put deeper meanings into their stories, but really, it's the reader who decides.
Statuette of a female vulve called Baubo, terracotta, from Priene, Asia Minor, 4th century BC.
An ad alluding to the vulva is sparking controversy, but there are few objections to phallic symbols. What explains this difference in treatment?
Our cult of youth continues into the afterlife.
Our dreams of the afterlife need to challenge the idea that only the appearance of youth is worthy.
Who made him up?
The Santa myth tells us more about adults than children.
Standard of Ur mosaic, 26th century BC.
Enheduanna's name means 'Ornament of Heaven'. She wrote hymns and myths more than 4000 years ago, studied the stars and yet is almost entirely unknown in the present day.
Jason Momoa as Aquaman in the forthcoming film.
With his beard, trident, and status as Atlantean ruler, the superhero Aquaman borrows many traits from the sea gods of mythology.
The Tanami desert in central Australia is haunted by beings called the jarnpa, which look like people but possess superhuman powers.
All monsters make their mark on the communities they haunt. Some are cheeky and mischievous, some are mysterious, others are downright evil.
Roman mosaic from the Villa del Cicerone in Pompeii.
How Romans overcame their fear of witches by finding them funny.
Why are we drawn to tech toys?
An expert argues our connection with these figures is longstanding. They are embedded in our myths and help us explore deeper questions about being human.
Giovanni Lanfranco’s Norandino and Lucina Discovered by the Ogre (1624): in many societies giants were long part of received wisdom.
Tales of giants can be found around the world - in Wales, in Australia, and the Pacific Islands. They helped people explain the sometimes cataclysmic changes to the environment they saw around them.
Have you seen a mermaid?
Even if mermaids aren't real, they'll likely feature in human stories for many years to come. Very few mythical creatures are found in so many diverse cultures, across so many years without changing.
An 1894 image of Lambton fighting the worm from the book More English Fairy Tales.
A monstrous worm that features in English mythology shares remarkable similarities with the watery serpents of Indigenous stories.
The “Burney Relief,” which is believed to represent either Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, or her older sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the underworld (c. 19th or 18th century BC)
Sex was central to life in ancient Mesopotamia. And the authors of Sumerian love poetry, depicting the exploits of divine couples, showed a wealth of practical knowledge about the stages of female sexual arousal.
There is a rich tradition of trees in mythology.
From the Thirteen-Storey Treehouse to the Magic Faraway Tree, kids loves treehouses. These books tap into a rich tradition of mythology, which takes characters into forests to come to terms with life.
The Superman character has endured and continues to be popular because he is a symbol of renewal and hope.
Superstition holds that Friday 13th is the day to stay in bed and avoid taking risks. But it's all in our heads.
A 1765 painting of Helios, the personification of the sun in Greek mythology.
The sun was worshiped as a deity in many cultures – and witnessing it get extinguished could be a particularly terrifying event.
Prometheus statue at Rockefeller Center, Manhattan. The inscription behind it is a paraphrase of Aeschylus that reads: “Prometheus, teacher in every art, brought the fire that hath proved to mortals a means to mighty ends”.
How the idea of a hyper-connected society could quickly go from utopia to dystopia and why neither scenario is likely to last.
Watch out! The gingerbread zombies are coming!
James, aged 8, of Sydney wants to know: are zombies real?
Ishtar (on right) comes to Sargon, who would later become one of the great kings of Mesopotamia.
Edwin J. Prittie, The story of the greatest nations, 1913
Love, it is said, is a battlefield, and it was no more so than for the first goddess of love and war, Ishtar. Her legend has influenced cultural archetypes from Aphrodite to Wonder Woman.