Literature cycle

Literature cycle

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Literary cycles are groups of stories grouped around common figures, often (though not necessarily) based on mythical figures or loosely on historic ones. Cycles which deal with an entire country are sometimes referred to as matters. A fictional cycle is often referred to as a mythos
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...


Examples of Literary Cycles

  • The Matter of Britain
    Matter of Britain
    The Matter of Britain is a name given collectively to the body of literature and legendary material associated with Great Britain and its legendary kings, particularly King Arthur...

     (or the "Arthurian cycle"), which centers around King Arthur
    King Arthur
    King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...

     and the Knights of the Round Table
  • The Matter of France
    Matter of France
    The Matter of France, also known as the Carolingian cycle, is a body of literature and legendary material associated with the history of France, in particular involving Charlemagne and his associates. The cycle springs from the Old French chansons de geste, and was later adapted into a variety of...

     (or the "Carolingian cycle"), which centers around Charlemagne
    Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

     and the Twelve Peers
    The paladins, sometimes known as the Twelve Peers, were the foremost warriors of Charlemagne's court, according to the literary cycle known as the Matter of France. They first appear in the early chansons de geste such as The Song of Roland, where they represent Christian martial valor against the...

  • The Matter of Rome
    Matter of Rome
    According to the medieval poet Jean Bodel, the Matter of Rome was the literary cycle made up of Greek and Roman mythology, together with episodes from the history of classical antiquity, focusing on military heroes like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar...

     (or the "cycle of Rome"), which centers around Julius Caesar
    Julius Caesar
    Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

     and Alexander the Great
  • The Reynard cycle, which centers around the fabular fox Reynard
    Reynard is the subject of a literary cycle of allegorical French, Dutch, English, and German fables largely concerned with Reynard, an anthropomorphic red fox and trickster figure.-Etymology of the name:Theories about the origin of the name Reynard are:...

  • The Epic Cycle, which centers around the Trojan War
    Trojan War
    In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

  • The Mythological Cycle
    Mythological Cycle
    The Mythological Cycle is one of the four major cycles of Irish mythology, and is so called because it represents the remains of the pagan mythology of pre-Christian Ireland, although the gods and supernatural beings have been euhemerised into historical kings and heroes.The cycle consists of...

    , which centers around the Celtic pantheon
    Celtic pantheon
    The gods and goddesses, or deities of the Celts are known from a variety of sources, including written Celtic mythology, ancient places of worship, statues, engravings, cult objects and place or personal names....

  • The Fenian Cycle
    Fenian Cycle
    The Fenian Cycle , also referred to as the Ossianic Cycle after its narrator Oisín, is a body of prose and verse centering on the exploits of the mythical hero Fionn mac Cumhaill and his warriors the Fianna. It is one of the four major cycles of Irish mythology along with the Mythological Cycle,...

    , which centers around Fionn mac Cumhaill
    Fionn mac Cumhaill
    Fionn mac Cumhaill , known in English as Finn McCool, was a mythical hunter-warrior of Irish mythology, occurring also in the mythologies of Scotland and the Isle of Man...

     and the Fianna
    Fianna were small, semi-independent warrior bands in Irish mythology and Scottish mythology, most notably in the stories of the Fenian Cycle, where they are led by Fionn mac Cumhaill....

  • The Ulster Cycle
    Ulster Cycle
    The Ulster Cycle , formerly known as the Red Branch Cycle, one of the four great cycles of Irish mythology, is a body of medieval Irish heroic legends and sagas of the traditional heroes of the Ulaid in what is now eastern Ulster and northern Leinster, particularly counties Armagh, Down and...

    , which centers around Cú Chulainn
    Cú Chulainn
    Cú Chulainn or Cúchulainn , and sometimes known in English as Cuhullin , is an Irish mythological hero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore...

     and the Kingdom of Ulster
    Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

  • The Cycle of the Kings
    Cycle of the Kings
    The Cycles of the Kings, also known as the Kings' Cycles or the Historical Cycle are a body of Old and Middle Irish literature. They contain stories of the legendary kings of Ireland, for example Cormac mac Airt, Niall of the Nine Hostages, Éogan Mór, Conall Corc, Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, Diarmait...

    , which centers around the monarchy of Ireland
    Monarchy of Ireland
    A monarchical polity has existed in Ireland during three periods of its history, finally ending in 1801. The designation King of Ireland and Queen of Ireland was used during these periods...

  • Der Ring des Nibelungen
    Der Ring des Nibelungen
    Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

     (or the "Ring cycle"), which centers around the Ring and the Norse pantheon
  • The four troubadour
    A troubadour was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages . Since the word "troubadour" is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a trobairitz....

    s Bernart d'Auriac
    Bernart d'Auriac
    Bernat or Bernart d'Auriac was a minor troubadour notable mainly for initiating a cycle of five short sirventes in the summer of 1285. According to a rubric of the chansonnier in which the cycle is preserved, Bernart was a mayestre de Bezers .The sirventes cycle was prompted by the Aragonese...

    , Pere Salvatge
    Pere Salvatge
    Pere Salvatge or Peire/Peyre Salvagge was a Catalan troubadour of the late thirteenth century . He is most notable as a constant attendant at the court of Peter III and Alfonso III of Aragon...

    , Roger Bernard III of Foix, and Peter III of Aragon
    Peter III of Aragon
    Peter the Great was the King of Aragon of Valencia , and Count of Barcelona from 1276 to his death. He conquered Sicily and became its king in 1282. He was one of the greatest of medieval Aragonese monarchs.-Youth and succession:Peter was the eldest son of James I of Aragon and his second wife...

     composed a cycle of four sirventes
    The sirventes or serventes is a genre of Occitan lyric poetry used by the troubadours. In early Catalan it became a sirventesch and was imported into that language in the fourteenth century, where it developed into a unique didactic/moralistic type...

    in the summer of 1285 concerning the Aragonese Crusade
    Aragonese Crusade
    The Aragonese Crusade or Crusade of Aragon, a part of the larger War of the Sicilian Vespers, was declared by Pope Martin IV against the King of Aragon, Peter III the Great, in 1284 and 1285...

  • The Japanese literary concept of sekai (世界, lit. "world") bears strong similarities to that of a cycle. Those surrounding Minamoto no Yoshitsune
    Minamoto no Yoshitsune
    was a general of the Minamoto clan of Japan in the late Heian and early Kamakura period. Yoshitsune was the ninth son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, and the third and final son and child that Yoshitomo would father with Tokiwa Gozen. Yoshitsune's older brother Minamoto no Yoritomo founded the Kamakura...

     and the Soga brothers are likely the most popularly reproduced.