The mythologies of the world are collective cultural dreams, and as such should be analyzed first from cultural perspectives. How do myths of the ancient Egyptians or Greeks, for instance, reflect the realities of the Egyptian and Greek cultures? When compared, however, mythologies reveal certain universal themes or motifs that point to larger trans-cultural issues such as the place of the human species in creation or the nature of deity as a concept. World Mythology: A Very Short Introduction is organized around the universal motifs.
Creation, the Flood, the Hero Quest, the Trickster/Culture Hero, the Pantheons, the High God, the Great Goddess. Veteran mythology scholar David Leeming examines examples of each motif from a variety of cultures-Greek, Egyptian, Norse, American Indian, African, Polynesian, Jewish, Christian, Hindu-treating them as reflections of the cultures that “dreamed” them. He compares and analyzes them,exposing their universal significance and creating a “world mythology.”