What Are the Different Types of Mythology Characters?

G. Wiesen

There are many types of mythology characters, much as there are many types of characters in other stories, though a few general categories can include most of these figures. Heroes are usually the protagonists of many myths and legends, and can be gods or humans, depending on the story. The gods themselves are often characters in myths, and while they can be heroes in some stories, they are often used as antagonists or to otherwise move the action of a story or myth forward. There are also a number of different mythology characters that can act as antagonists or villains in various tales.

A sculpture of Hercules.
A sculpture of Hercules.

Mythology characters are usually those figures who are prominent in myths and legends that have come from numerous cultures throughout the world. Many of these stories feature a hero who is the main protagonist or character in a particular story, sometimes becoming involved in numerous stories. The hero is often a human character, though he or she can sometimes be a god or is otherwise touched by the divine or supernatural in some way. Many Greek mythology characters, for example, have one parent who is a god, such as Hercules or Perseus who both have human mothers but were fathered by Zeus.

In Greek mythology, Medusa turned anyone who looked at her to stone.
In Greek mythology, Medusa turned anyone who looked at her to stone.

The hero of mythological stories is typically compelled to complete some action or go on a heroic journey. These mythology characters are commonly human so that they are more compelling and interesting for a human audience, though creation myths and similar stories may feature heroes who are gods. In some mythological systems, such as Greek and Roman myths, a mortal or demigod hero can eventually ascend to godhood, usually upon death.

Gods are often featured as mythology characters in many stories, and their involvement and roles in these stories can vary widely. In many tales, the gods act as catalysts that set events in motion for the rest of the story, which then requires human action and intervention to resolve. Gods may also act as antagonists in stories, especially when they are characterized as especially cruel or uncaring toward humanity. The story of The Odyssey results from Odysseus offending Poseidon, the god of the seas, who then causes Odysseus to become lost at sea and take 10 years to return home.

There are also mythology characters who act only as villains or antagonists in mythological stories. In the story of Perseus, the gorgon Medusa is a creature that turns anyone who looks upon her into stone and must be slain by Perseus. These types of mythological monsters often act as villains and antagonists for heroes, whose exploits become legendary by overcoming such creatures.

Gods are mythology characters that appear in Homer's "The Odyssey".
Gods are mythology characters that appear in Homer's "The Odyssey".

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