Friday, November 30, 2012


If you're ever trying to describe what it is you do, and people just look at you funny when you say "I'm a world builder" - say "I do mythopoeia" and watch their face...just watch.

The founding father of fantasy, Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien, revived this word in the 1930s. Mythopoeia means - a narrative genre in modern literature and film where a fictional mythology is created by the writer of prose or other fiction. The idea is actually from the Hellenic Greeks in the fashion of the Homeric epic the Illiad and the Odyssey.

There are many examples of this now, but Tolkien was among the pioneers in modern times.

One last bit of trivia: Tolkien was never knighted. Queen Elizabeth did award him with the Order of the British Empire (one level below knighthood) in early 1973. He passed away September 2, 1973. It is thought that perhaps if he'd lived longer to see the Silmarillion get published in 1977, he may have died Sir J.R.R. Tolkien.

I like to think that even if he were knighted it would mostly be an honorary title that didn't change his hobbit-like outlook - much like Merry and Pippin being conferred with the titles of Rohan and Gondor.


  1. I really do not like the term (just a weird sound), and usually tell people, "Oh, I create worlds" when they ask me for my hobby.

    It's funny that you bring up Mythopoeia. Like so many things, I once started a Mythopoeia project and I have actually been thinking about it lately. And yes, I realize I should be working on making interstellar empires bomb each others colony worlds back into the stone age, but if I could focus well on one project I'd actually get something done and we can not have that, now can we?

    I do not think Mythopoeia is the very same as world-building, though. My understanding is that WB creates wholly artificial world - and certainly includes facets of Mythopoeia - while Mythopoeia by itself is all about creating artificial myths for our world.

    Got anyhting special in mind, or are you just doing this as part of your normal worldbuilding?

  2. I'm of the meticulous sort. When I construct worlds and cultures within those worlds, a part of me cannot feel the story is complete until the characters are fleshed out. I need to know what they do, how they act/think, and what they believe. I'm of the opinion that religion (or sometimes lack thereof) determines one's worldview and puts in place a system of behavior viewed acceptable or not by that person's society - more specifically what that society measures as tolerable by their chosen deity. A god of chaos would differ quite a bit from one of mercy. A benevolent, interactive god would not be the same as an apathetic creator who merely creates then ignores said creation.