I have been doing a lot of reading lately. And obviously I've been doing a lot of writing. But I want to ask you a question, my followers, because I feel that if you were not interested in mythology, you would not really be reading my blog. I mean, let's face it, it is mythology city over here. SO.
When does Historical Fiction, influenced by myth, become Fantasy?
We have Homer, and Virgil, both of whom wrote epics which included elements of mythology -- gods and monsters and more gods and lots of divine hands floating about, messing with fates and destinies -- and we don't call them fantasy. We call them history and literature, and archaeologists over the years have gone looking for evidence that these people lived and breathed in our past. Agamemnon, Odysseus, Theseus, Aeneas. You all remember the guy who claimed to have found Odysseus' palace on the island of Ithaca, a while back, I'm sure. And obviously we have to question these things and take them apart, but what turns a work of historical fiction, based on these same people and characters, into fantasy?
Is it the inclusion of the gods as living breathing people? Margaret George does this with her book on Helen of Troy (though she really did not need to).
Is it the inclusion of visions and prophecy, signs from the gods? Mary Renault uses omens and signs in her books on Theseus quite well, and Theseus even has a vision of himself fighting for Athens at the battle of Marathon in the future. I would also argue that many ancient cultures leaned quite heavily on these kinds of things, and NOT to include them would make the novel historically inaccurate to the extreme.
Where is the line?