Ancient roman myths in modern literature

Bona Dea

New Member
The most obvious is that Remus and Romulus being raised by wolves - this has been used many times, the most famous being the Jungle Book.

But what other myths have been reused in modern culture?


Active Member
There's the great novel Ulysses by James Joyce, but it really derives from Homer's Odyssey. Ulysses is the Latin (Roman) name for Odysseus. Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain is full of references to Greek mythology.


Actually, I think "The Jungle Book" was based on the concept of the "feral child" ( ), that is children who were raised by animals after being lost or abandoned somewhere in the jungle. There were actual documented cases of such children.

The important Roman deities were eventually identified with the more anthropomorphic Greek gods and goddesses, and assumed many of their attributes and myths. As far as Roman mythology influencing modern culture, one should think about the fantasy genre in literature and cinema. For example, the various mythological creatures from "The Chronicles of Narnia"... and also Hercules.


New Member
I think many writers of modern fiction take what they want from all mythological categories and rewrite them as they please. I think that's why so many of us find myths confusing.


Roman, or Greek? Tim Powers uses both in modern fiction in varying degrees of effectiveness. The Dionysius figure appears frequently in his fiction, particularly in relation to California's wine country. He has other examples, but I'll have to have the books in front of me to be exact.

I'm going to feel very nerdy when I say this, but there are also a lot of examples of Roman mythology in comic books. The marvel universe draws from it fairly frequently, and I stumble across it once in awhile in various vertigo novels as well.


Well-Known Member
I think many writers of modern fiction take what they want from all mythological categories and rewrite them as they please. I think that's why so many of us find myths confusing.
Taking aspects from mythological stories and using them in modern fiction is not the same as rewriting. Taking a story from mythology and reworking it is rewriting. Some writers like to incorporate elements of mythology into their stories, and that's fine. They are merely a source of inspiration. Like in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings; Middle Earth, the one ring, even Gandalf's appearance and some of his character have been derived from Norse mythology. But they are merely references back to the myths. Neither the story or plot line was derived from the myths, it is completely new. Therefore it is not a rewriting, but solely inspirational to the author. It supplies nothing more than mere background.

J. K. Rowling drew elements from both Arthurian legend and Classical mythology in her Harry Potter series; Argus Filch, the Dumbledore and Harry relationship, Minerva McGonagall, Fluffy the three-headed dog, etc. But again, only elements. Obviously the series is amazing, and completely of her own making with only the obvious points of inspiration that she had. Every author has some point of inspiration from somewhere, often from mythological stories. Even derived into the Arthurian Legends are aspects of Celtic mythology; Merlin appears in both, as does the Lady of the Lake and even Excalibur.


New Member
[quote="But what other myths have been reused in modern culture?[/quote]

In my series I use myths from ancient Mesopotamia (including Lilith and Gilgamesh), myths from ancient Persia and myths from ancient Greece. If you look closely at these myths, they are remarkably similar, even though they are describing these phenomenon differently (angels, gods, demons, daeva). It really does make you wonder what the myths were based on.