I think the Norse mythos is my favorite as far as overall dramatic impact of the story and characters. =) Can't get any more crazy than the "end of the world!"
But I think Greek myths have more depth to them.
* * *
Some quick info about Egyptian mythology
that I found interesting.
1. Heliopolis, Memphis, and Hermopolis, three ancient Egyptian civilizations, each had unique versions of the creation of the world and what the pantheon was like. They each believed that their city was the site from where "it all began." Surprisingly, there was very little arguing about who was wrong and who was right.
2. Heliopolis had the Ennead
(or "Nine") and they considered Atum
to be the Supreme Creator. Gods belonging in the Heliopolis mythos include: Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys. They believed Atum emerged as the first sunrise from a lotus flower that sprouted on the primeval mound, and he contained within himself the life-force of the universe.
3. Memphis believed that Ptah
, the god of writing, thought the world into being and made all things a reality simply by speaking their names.
4. Hermopolis had the Ogdoad
(or "Eight") and they believed that there were eight deities whose combined energies made life possible and they were all responsible for the creation of the primeval mound, from which the sun burst forth. Gods belonging in this pantheon include the forces of the primeval waters - Nun and Naunet, the gods of infinity, Heh and Hauhet, the gods of darkness, Kek and Kauket, and the hidden forces of life, Amun and Amaunet. Amun
became the national deity instead of Heliopolis' Atum
5. The universe was by all Egyptians imagined to be a place of balance, truth, and harmony, characteristics personified by the goddess Ma'at,
and the afterlife was believed to be a parallel Egypt with all the same landmarks, and none of the bad stuff, like illnesses and famine and so on.
6. The sun was obviously very important to the Nile dwellers. In Heliopolis, while Atum
was considered to be the creative power of the sun that put everything in being, Re
(or Ra) was believed to be the sun itself. Even then, Re still took on different forms, depending on the sun's position in the sky. At dawn, the sun had the form of a scarab (a dung beetle) and was known as Khepri
"Evolving One." When the sun rose higher in the east, it became Horus
, or "The Far One," also known as Harakhty
, "Horus of the Horizon." A lot of Egyptians called him Re-Harakhty,
combining the two names. As the sun came closer to the end of the day, it became Re-Atum.
Re is usually depicted as a falcon, man, falcon-headed or ram-headed human.
7. At night, the sun, or Re, battled the denizens of the underworld (Duat) such as his archenemy, the giant serpent of chaos, Apep
(or Apophis). Re was reborn with each morning and always emerged victorious.
8. From the Hermopolis mythos, Amun
(also known as "The Unknowable" or "The Hidden One") was later on linked to the sun instead of Atum when the Thebans came in power, and so was born Amun-Re
. A goddess known as Mut
also became popular and supplanted Amanet as the consort of Amun, and they had a son called Khonsu.
Together they were known as the "Divine Triad."
9. There were quite a number of prominent goddesses in Egyptian mythos too. The best known is Isis,
who was believed to be the most powerful and clever. But there was also Hathor,
a very popular bovine-headed goddess of love, beauty, and revelry, also known as the "Mistress of Drunkenness." There are some more interesting ones:
, "The Mighty Ones," twin goddesses who respectively took on the forms of a vulture and a cobra and who were believed to protect the pharaoh at all times. Hence why the pharaoh is often nicknamed "He of the Two Ladies."
the lioness goddess, the "Powerful One," also known as the "Eye of Re." Bastet
, the cat goddess, was originally an aspect of Sekhmet, but went on to become a separate deity.
the "Mistress of Bow, Ruler of Arrows," an ancient northern goddess.
the scorpion goddess. Isis, Neith, and Selket would often be found on pharaohs' sacrophaguses.
, the "Great One," a hippopotamus goddess.
10. The only time all these traditional beliefs were even challenged (before Christianity) was when Thutmose IV,
argued that the sun disk Aten
was the true deity and the only god to worship. His son, Amenhotep IV
developed this mythos further, and his time was characterized by sudden naturalistic art styles (he also changed his name to Akhenaten.
This belief became increasingly unpopular though, and Akhenaten's son Tutankhamun
(you guys know about him, dontcha?) led the movement back to the traditional gods. Hereafter, Akhenaten was known as a heretic.
That's it for now... of course there was the tale of how Osiris died and then was resurrected, but I'm sure everybody has heard of that one.