Andrew Lang's Fairy Books
The Langs' Fairy Books are a series of 25 collections of true and fictional stories for children published between 1889 and 1913. The best known books of the series are the 12 collections of fairy tales known as Andrew Lang's "Coloured" Fairy Books or Andrew Lang's Fairy Books of Many Colors. In all, the volumes feature 798 stories, besides the 153 poems in The Blue Poetry Book. Andrew Lang was a Scots poet and literary critic, he edited the series and wrote prefaces for its entire run, while his wife, the translator and author Leonora Blanche Alleyne, known to friends and family as Nora, assumed editorial control of the series in the 1890s. She and other translators did a large portion of the translating and retelling of the actual stories, as acknowledged in the prefaces. Four of the volumes from 1908 to 1912 were published by "Mrs. Lang". According to Anita Silvey, "The irony of Lang's life and work is that although he wrote for a profession—literary criticism. A. Wallis Mills contributed some illustrations.
The best-known volumes of the series are the 12 Fairy Books, each of, distinguished by its own color. The Langs did not collect any fairy tales from oral primary sources, yet only they and Madame d'Aulnoy have collected tales from such a large variety of sources; these collections have been immensely influential. Andrew selected the tales for the first four books, she and other translators did a large portion of the translating and retelling of the actual stories. Lang's urge to gather and publish fairy tales was rooted in his own experience with the folk and fairy tales of his home territory along the Anglo-Scottish border. British fairy tale collections were rare at the time. According to Roger Lancelyn Green, Lang "was fighting against the critics and educationists of the day" who judged the traditional tales' "unreality and escapism to be harmful for young readers, while holding that such stories were beneath the serious consideration of those of mature age". Over a generation, Lang's books worked a revolution in this public perception.
The series was immensely popular, helped by Lang's reputation as a folklorist and by the packaging device of the uniform books. The series proved of great influence in children's literature, increasing the popularity of fairy tales over tales of real life, it inspired such imitators as More English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs. Other followers included the American The Oak-Tree Fairy Book, The Elm-Tree Fairy Book, The Fir-Tree Fairy Book series edited by Clifton Johnson, the collections of Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith; some of Lang's collected stories were included without any attribution at all, the rest are listed with brief notes. The sources can be tracked down when given as "Grimm" or "Madame d'Aulnoy" or attributed to a specific collection, but other notes are less helpful. For instance, "The Wonderful Birch" is listed only as "from the Russo-Karelian". Lang explained in the prefaces that the tales which he told were all old and not his, that he found new fairy tales no match for them: The collections were intended for children and were bowdlerised, as Lang explained in his prefaces.
J. R. R. Tolkien stated in his essay "On Fairy-Stories" that he appreciated the collections but objected to his editing the stories for children, he criticized Lang for including stories without magical elements in them, with "The Heart of a Monkey" given as an example, where the monkey claims that his heart is outside his body, unlike "The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body" or other similar stories. However, many fairy tale collectors include tales with no marvelous elements; the first edition consisted of 5000 copies. The book assembled a wide range of tales, with seven from the Brothers Grimm, five from Madame d'Aulnoy, three from the Arabian Nights, four Norwegian fairytales, among other sources; the Blue Fairy Book was the first volume in the series, so it contains some of the best known tales, taken from a variety of sources. Media related to Blue Fairy Book at Wikimedia Commons It appeared at Christmas 1890 in a first printing of 10,000 copies. Sources include French, Russian and Romanian tales as well as Norse mythology.
Media related to The Red Fairy Book at Wikimedia Commons Contains 153 poems by great British and American poets. In his Preface to this volume, Lang expressed the view that it would be "probably the last" of the collection, their continuing popularity, demanded subsequent collections. In The Green Fairy Book, the third in the series, Lang has assembled stories from Spanish and Chinese traditions. Media related to Green Fairy Book at Wikimedia Commons Contains twenty-four true stories drawn from European history. Media related to The true story book at Wikimedia Commons Its initial printing was 15,000 copies; the Yellow Fairy Book is a collection of tales from all over the world. It features many tales from Hans Christian Andersen. Media related to The yellow fairy book at Wikimedia Commons Contains thirty true stories drawn from European history. Includes the life of Joan of Arc and the Jacobite uprising of 1745
A nymph in Greek mythology is a supernatural being associated with many other minor female deities that are associated with the air, seas or water, or particular locations or landforms. Different from Greek goddesses, nymphs are more regarded as divine spirits who animate or maintain Nature for the environments where they live, are depicted as beautiful, young graceful maidens, they are divided into various broad subgroups, such as Aurai, Nereides and Dryades The Greek word νύμφη has the primary meaning of "young woman. Yet the etymology of the noun νύμφη remains uncertain; the Doric and Aeolic form is νύμφα. Modern usage more applies to young women at the peak of their attractiveness, contrasting with parthenos "a virgin", generically as kore "maiden, girl"; the term is sometimes used by women to address each other and remains the regular Modern Greek term for "bride". Nymphs were sometimes beloved by many and dwell in most specific areas related to the natural environment. E.g. mountainous forests by springs or rivers.
Other nymphs appeared in the shape of young maidens, were part of the retinue of a god, such as Dionysus, Hermes, or Pan, or a goddess the huntress Artemis. The Greek nymphs were spirits invariably bound to places, not unlike the Latin genius loci, sometimes this produced complicated myths like cult of Arethusa to Sicily. In some of the works of the Greek-educated Latin poets, the nymphs absorbed into their ranks the indigenous Italian divinities of springs and streams, while the Lymphae, Italian water-goddesses, owing to the accidental similarity of their names, could be identified with the Greek Nymphae; the classical mythologies of the Roman poets were unlikely to have affected the rites and cults of individual nymphs venerated by country people in the springs and clefts of Latium. Among the Roman literate class, their sphere of influence was restricted, they appear exclusively as divinities of the watery element; the ancient Greek belief in nymphs survived in many parts of the country into the early years of the twentieth century, when they were known as "nereids".
Nymphs tended to frequent areas distant from humans but could be encountered by lone travelers outside the village, where their music might be heard, the traveler could spy on their dancing or bathing in a stream or pool, either during the noon heat or in the middle of the night. They might appear in a whirlwind; such encounters could be dangerous, bringing dumbness, besotted infatuation, madness or stroke to the unfortunate human. When parents believed their child to be nereid-struck, they would pray to Saint Artemidos. A motif that entered European art during the Renaissance was the idea of a statue of a nymph sleeping in a grotto or spring; this motif came from an Italian report of a Roman sculpture of a nymph at a fountain above the River Danube. The report, an accompanying poem on the fountain describing the sleeping nymph, are now concluded to be a fifteenth-century forgery, but the motif proved influential among artists and landscape gardeners for several centuries after, with copies seen at neoclassical gardens such as the grotto at Stourhead.
As H. J. Rose states, all the names for various classes of nymphs are plural feminine adjectives agreeing with the substantive nymphai, there was no single classification that could be seen as canonical and exhaustive. Thus, the classes of nymphs tend to overlap. Rose mentions dryads and hamadryads as nymphs of trees meliai as nymphs of ash trees, naiads as nymphs of water, but no others specifically; the following is not the authentic Greek classification, but is intended as a guide: The following is a list of groups of nymphs associated with this or that particular location. Nymphs in such groupings could belong to any of the classes mentioned above; the following is a selection of names of the nymphs whose class was not specified in the source texts. For lists of Naiads, Dryades etc. See respective articles. Sabrina Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-36281-9. Larson, Jennifer Lynn. Greek Nymphs: Myth, Lore. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-514465-9.
Lawson, John Cuthbert, Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1910, p. 131 Nereids paleothea.com homepage Tomkinson, John L.. Haunted Greece: Nymphs and Other Exotika. Athens: Anagnosis. ISBN 978-960-88087-0-6; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Nymphs". Encyclopædia Britannica. 19. Cambridge University Press. P. 930. Theoi.com: Nymphs Theoi Project – List of Nymphs
In Greek mythology, the Naiads are a type of female spirit, or nymph, presiding over fountains, springs, streams and other bodies of fresh water. They are distinct from river gods, who embodied rivers, the ancient spirits that inhabited the still waters of marshes and lagoon-lakes, such as pre-Mycenaean Lerna in the Argolis. Naiads were associated with fresh water, as the Oceanids were with saltwater and the Nereids with the Mediterranean, but because the ancient Greeks thought of the world's waters as all one system, which percolated in from the sea in deep cavernous spaces within the earth, there was some overlap. Arethusa, the nymph of a spring, could make her way through subterranean flows from the Peloponnesus, to surface on the island of Sicily; the Greek word is Ναϊάς, plural Ναϊάδες It derives from νάειν, "to flow", or νᾶμα, "running water". "Naiad" has several English pronunciations:. They were the object of archaic local cults, worshipped as essential to humans. Boys and girls at coming-of-age ceremonies dedicated their childish locks to the local naiad of the spring.
In places like Lerna their waters' ritual cleansings were credited with magical medical properties. Animals were ritually drowned there. Oracles might be situated by ancient springs. Naiads could be dangerous: Hylas of the Argo's crew was lost when he was taken by naiads fascinated by his beauty; the naiads were known to exhibit jealous tendencies. Theocritus' story of naiad jealousy was that of a shepherd, the lover of Nomia or Echenais. Salmacis forced the youth Hermaphroditus into a carnal embrace and, when he sought to get away, fused with him; the water nymph associated with particular springs was known all through Europe in places with no direct connection with Greece, surviving in the Celtic wells of northwest Europe that have been rededicated to Saints, in the medieval Melusine. Walter Burkert points out, "When in the Iliad Zeus calls the gods into assembly on Mount Olympus, it is not only the well-known Olympians who come along, but all the nymphs and all the rivers. Robert Graves offered a sociopolitical reading of the common myth-type in which a mythic king is credited with marrying a naiad and founding a city: it was the newly arrived Hellenes justifying their presence.
The loves and rapes of Zeus, according to Graves' readings, record the supplanting of ancient local cults by Olympian ones. So, in the back-story of the myth of Aristaeus, Hypseus, a king of the Lapiths, married Chlidanope, a naiad, who bore him Cyrene. Aristaeus had more than ordinary mortal experience with the naiads: when his bees died in Thessaly, he went to consult them, his aunt Arethusa invited him below the water's surface, where he was washed with water from a perpetual spring and given advice. St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans was known as Nyades Street, is parallel to Dryades Street. Bibliotheca 2.95, 2.11, 2.21, 2.23, 1.61, 1.81, 1.7.6 Homer. Odyssey 13.355, 17.240, Iliad 14.440, 20.380 Ovid. Metamorphoses Hesiod. Theogony Burkert, Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-674-36281-0. Robert Graves, The Greek Myths 1955 Edgar Allan Poe, "Sonnet to Science" 1829 Naiad Nymphs
Jinn Romanized as djinn or Anglicized as genies, are supernatural creatures in early pre-Islamic Arabian and Islamic mythology and theology. Jinn are not a Islamic concept. Since jinn are not evil, Islam was able to adapt spirits from other religions during its expansion. Besides the jinn, Islam acknowledges the existence of demons; the lines between demons and jinn are blurred, since malevolent jinn are called shayāṭīn. However both Islam and non-Islamic scholarship distinguishes between angels and demons as three different types of spiritual entities in Islamic traditions; the jinn are distinguished from demons in that they can be both evil or good, while genuine demons are evil. Some academic scholars assert that demons are related to monotheistic traditions and jinn to polytheistic traditions. In an Islamic context, the term jinn is used for both a collective designation for any supernatural creature and to refer to a specific type of supernatural creature. Jinn is an Arabic collective noun deriving from the Semitic root JNN, whose primary meaning is "to hide" or "to conceal".
Some authors interpret the word to mean "beings that are concealed from the senses". Cognates include the Arabic majnūn, janīn. Jinn is properly treated as a plural, with the singular being jinnī; the origin of the word Jinn remains uncertain. Some scholars relate the Arabic term jinn to the Latin genius, as a result of syncretism during the reign of the Roman empire under Tiberius Augustus, but this derivation is disputed. Another suggestion holds that jinn may be derived from Aramaic "ginnaya" with the meaning of "tutelary deity", or "garden". Others claim a Persian origin of the word, in the form of a wicked spirit. Jaini were among various creatures in the even pre-Zoroastrian mythology of peoples of Iran; the Anglicized form genie is a borrowing of the French génie, from the Latin genius, a guardian spirit of people and places in Roman religion. It first appeared in 18th-century translations of the Thousand and One Nights from the French, where it had been used owing to its rough similarity in sound and sense and further applies to benevolent intermediary spirits, in contrast to the malevolent spirits called demon and heavenly angels, in literature.
In Assyrian art, creatures ontologically between humans and divinities are called genie. Jinn were worshipped by many Arabs during the Pre-Islamic period, unlike gods, jinn were not regarded as immortal. In ancient Arabia, the term jinn applied to all kinds of supernatural entities among various religions and cults; the exact origins of belief in jinn are not clear. Some scholars of the Middle East hold that they originated as malevolent spirits residing in deserts and unclean places, who took the forms of animals. According to common Arabian belief, pre-Islamic philosophers, poets were inspired by the jinn. However, jinn were feared and thought to be responsible for causing various diseases and mental illnesses. Julius Wellhausen observed that such spirits were thought to inhabit desolate and dark places and that they were feared. One had to protect oneself from them. In the Islamic sense, the term jinn is used in two different ways: An invisible entity, who roamed the earth before Adam, created by God out of a "mixture of fire" or "smokeless fire".
They are believed to resemble humans in that they eat and drink, have children and die, are subject to judgment, so will either be sent to heaven or hell according to their deeds. But they were stronger than humans. Jinn are related to heavenly beings, a sub-category of angels or a tribe of angelic beings, able to sin and created from fire, unlike their light-created counterpart; however these jinn must be distinguished, from the pre-Adamite jinn-race, who share many characteristics with human, instead of angels. As the opposite of al-Ins referring to any object that cannot be detected by human sensory organs, including angels and the interior of human beings, thus every demon and every angel is a jinn, but not every jinn is an angel or a demon. Belief in jinn is not included among the six articles of Islamic faith, as belief in angels is, however at least some Muslims believe it essential to the Islamic faith. Jinn are mentioned 29 times in the Quran together with humans, the 72 surah named after them.
They are mentioned in collections of Ṣaḥīḥ ahadith. One hadith divides them with one type flying through the air. In Islamic tradition, Muhammad was sent as a prophet to both human and jinn communities, that prophets and messengers were sent to both communities. Traditionally Surah 72 is held to tell about the revelation to jinn and several stories mention one of Muhammad's followers accompanied him, witnessing the revelation to the jinn. Another Islamic prophet, related to interactions with jinn, is Solomon. In Quran, he is said to be a king in ancient Israel and was gifted by God to talk to animals and jin
In folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe and Africa; the first stories appeared in ancient Assyria, in which the goddess Atargatis transformed herself into a mermaid out of shame for accidentally killing her human lover. Mermaids are sometimes associated with perilous events such as floods, storms and drownings. In other folk traditions, they can be benevolent or beneficent, bestowing boons or falling in love with humans; the male equivalent of the mermaid is the merman a familiar figure in folklore and heraldry. Although traditions about and sightings of mermen are less common than those of mermaids, they are assumed to co-exist with their female counterparts; some of the attributes of mermaids may have been influenced by the Sirens of Greek mythology. Historical accounts of mermaids, such as those reported by Christopher Columbus during his exploration of the Caribbean, may have been inspired by manatees and similar aquatic mammals.
While there is no evidence that mermaids exist outside folklore, reports of mermaid sightings continue to the present day, including 21st-century examples from Israel and Zimbabwe. Mermaids have been a popular subject of art and literature in recent centuries, such as in Hans Christian Andersen's well-known fairy tale "The Little Mermaid", they have subsequently been depicted in operas, books and comics. The word mermaid is a compound of the Old English mere, maid; the equivalent term in Old English was merewif. They are conventionally depicted as beautiful with long flowing hair; as cited above, they are sometimes equated with the sirens of Greek mythology, half-bird femmes fatales whose enchanting voices would lure soon-to-be-shipwrecked sailors to nearby rocks, sandbars or shoals. Sirenia is an order of aquatic, herbivorous mammals that inhabit rivers, coastal marine waters and marine wetlands. Sirenians, including manatees and dugongs, possess major aquatic adaptations: arms used for steering, a paddle used for propulsion, remnants of hind limbs in the form of two small bones floating deep in the muscle.
They look ponderous and clumsy but are fusiform and muscular, mariners before the mid-nineteenth century referred to them as mermaids. Sirenomelia called "mermaid syndrome", is a rare congenital disorder in which a child is born with his or her legs fused together and small genitalia; this condition is about as rare as conjoined twins, affecting one out of every 100,000 live births and is fatal within a day or two of birth because of kidney and bladder complications. Four survivors were known as of July 2003; as the anthropologist A. Asbjørn Jøn noted: "these'marine beasts' have featured in folk tradition for many centuries now, until recently they have maintained a reasonably standard set of characteristics. Many folklorists and mythographers deem that the origin of the mythic mermaid is the dugong, posing a theory that mythicised tales have been constructed around early sightings of dugongs by sailors." Depictions of entities with the tails of fish, but upper bodies of human beings appear in Mesopotamian artwork from the Old Babylonian Period onwards.
These figures are mermen, but mermaids do appear. The name for the mermaid figure may have been kuliltu, meaning "fish-woman"; such figures were used in Neo-Assyrian art as protective figures and were shown in both monumental sculpture and in small, protective figurines. The first known mermaid stories appeared in Assyria c. 1000 BC. The goddess Atargatis, mother of Assyrian queen Semiramis, loved a mortal and unintentionally killed him. Ashamed, she jumped into a lake and took the form of a fish, but the waters would not conceal her divine beauty. Thereafter, she took the form of a mermaid — human above the waist, fish below — although the earliest representations of Atargatis showed her as a fish with a human head and arm, similar to the Babylonian god Ea; the Greeks recognized Atargatis under the name Derketo. Sometime before 546 BC, Milesian philosopher Anaximander postulated that mankind had sprung from an aquatic animal species, he thought. A popular Greek legend turned Alexander the Great's sister, into a mermaid after her death, living in the Aegean.
She would ask the sailors on any ship she would encounter only one question: "Is King Alexander alive?", to which the correct answer was: "He lives and reigns and conquers the world". This answer would please her, she would accordingly calm the waters and bid the ship farewell. Any other answer would enrage her, she would stir up a terrible storm, dooming the ship and every sailor on board. In the second century AD, the Hellenized Syrian writer Lucian of Samosata wrote about the Syrian temples he had visited in his treatise On the Syrian Goddess, written in Ionic Greek: "Among them – Now, the traditional story among them concerning the temple, but other men swear that Semiramis of Babylonia, whose deeds are many in Asia founded this site, not for Hera but for her own mother, whose name was Derketo." "I saw Derketo's likeness in a strange marvel. It is woman for half its length, but the image in the Holy City is a woman, the grounds for their acco
A gnome is a diminutive spirit in Renaissance magic and alchemy, first introduced by Paracelsus in the 16th century and adopted by more recent authors including those of modern fantasy literature. Its characteristics have been reinterpreted to suit the needs of various story tellers, but it is said to be a small humanoid that lives underground; the word comes from Renaissance Latin gnomus, which first appears in the Ex Libro de Nymphis, Pygmaeis, Salamandris et Gigantibus, etc by Paracelsus, published posthumously in Nysa in 1566. The term may be an original invention of Paracelsus deriving the term from Latin gēnomos. In this case, the omission of the ē is, as the Oxford English Dictionary calls a blunder. Paracelsus classifies them as earth elementals, he describes them as two spans high reluctant to interact with humans, able to move through solid earth as as humans move through air. The chthonic, or earth-dwelling, spirit has precedents in numerous ancient and medieval mythologies guarding mines and precious underground treasures, notably in the Germanic dwarfs and the Greek Chalybes, Telchines or Dactyls.
The English word is attested from the early 18th century. Gnomes are used in Alexander Pope's "The Rape of the Lock"; the creatures from this mock-epic are small, celestial creatures which were prudish women in their past-lives, now spend all of eternity looking out for prudish women. Other uses of the term gnome remain obscure until the early 19th century, when it is taken up by authors of Romanticist collections of fairy tales and becomes synonymous with the older word goblin. Pope's stated source, the French satire Comte de Gabalis, used the term gnomide to refer to female gnomes; the author of this work, Nicolas-Pierre-Henri de Montfaucon de Villars, the abbot of Villars, describes gnomes as such: "The Earth is filled to the Center with Gnomes or Pharyes, a People of small Stature, the Guardians of Treasures, of Mines, of Precious Stones. They are Ingenious, Friends of Men, easie to be commandded, they furnish the Children of the Sages with as much Money. The Gnomides or Wives of these Gnomes or Pharyes, are Little, but Handson.
In 19th-century fiction, the chthonic gnome became a sort of antithesis to the more airy or luminous fairy. Nathaniel Hawthorne in Twice-Told Tales contrasts the two in "Small enough to be king of the fairies, ugly enough to be king of the gnomes". Gnomes are contrasted to elves, as in William Cullen Bryant's Little People of the Snow, which has "let us have a tale of elves that ride by night, with jingling reins, or gnomes of the mine". One of the first movements in Mussorgsky's 1874 work Pictures at an Exhibition, named "Gnomus", is written to sound as if a gnome is moving about, his movements changing in speed. Franz Hartmann in 1895 satirized materialism in an allegorical tale entitled Unter den Gnomen im Untersberg; the English translation appeared in 1896 as Among the Gnomes: An Occult Tale of Adventure in the Untersberg. In this story, the Gnomes are still subterranean creatures, guarding treasures of gold within the Untersberg mountain; as a figure of 19th-century fairy tales, the term gnome became synonymous with other terms for "little people" by the 20th century, such as goblin, kobold, Heinzelmännchen and other instances of the "domestic spirit" type, losing its strict association with earth or the underground world.
Creatures called gnomes have been used in the fantasy genre of fiction and gaming since the mid-nineteenth century in a cunning role, e.g. as an inventor. In L. Frank Baum's Oz series, the Nomes their king, are the chief adversaries of the Oz people, they are ugly, hot-tempered, round-bodied with spindly legs and arms, have long beards and wild hair, live underground, are the militant protectors/hoarders of jewels and precious metals. Baum does not depict any female gnomes. Ruth Plumly Thompson, who continued the series after Baum's death, reverted to the traditional spelling. L. Frank Baum featured the classical gnomes in his book The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, they are in charge of watching over the rocks and their king is part of the Council of Immortals. In addition, they created the sleigh bells for Santa Claus' reindeer. J. R. R. Tolkien, in the legendarium surrounding his Elves, uses "Gnomes" as the initial and dropped name of the Noldor, the most gifted and technologically minded of his elvish races, in conscious exploitation of the similarity with the word gnomic.
Gnome is thus Tolkien's English loan-translation of the Quenya word Noldo, "those with knowledge". Tolkien's "Gnomes" are tall, dark-haired, light-skinned and wise but suffer from pride, tend towards violence, have an overweening love of the works of their own hands gemstones. Many of them live in cities in secluded mountain fortresses, he uses "Gnomes" to refer to both females. In The Father Christmas Letters, which Tolkien wrote for his children, Red Gnomes are presented as helpful creatures who come fro
Europe is a continent located in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, it comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia. Since around 1850, Europe is most considered to be separated from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas and the waterways of the Turkish Straits. Although the term "continent" implies physical geography, the land border is somewhat arbitrary and has been redefined several times since its first conception in classical antiquity; the division of Eurasia into two continents reflects East-West cultural and ethnic differences which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The geographic border does not follow political boundaries, with Turkey and Kazakhstan being transcontinental countries. A strict application of the Caucasus Mountains boundary places two comparatively small countries and Georgia, in both continents.
Europe covers 2 % of the Earth's surface. Politically, Europe is divided into about fifty sovereign states of which the Russian Federation is the largest and most populous, spanning 39% of the continent and comprising 15% of its population. Europe had a total population of about 741 million as of 2016; the European climate is affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent at latitudes along which the climate in Asia and North America is severe. Further from the sea, seasonal differences are more noticeable than close to the coast. Europe, in particular ancient Greece, was the birthplace of Western civilization; the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD and the subsequent Migration Period marked the end of ancient history and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Renaissance humanism, exploration and science led to the modern era. Since the Age of Discovery started by Portugal and Spain, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs. Between the 16th and 20th centuries, European powers controlled at various times the Americas all of Africa and Oceania and the majority of Asia.
The Age of Enlightenment, the subsequent French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars shaped the continent culturally and economically from the end of the 17th century until the first half of the 19th century. The Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain at the end of the 18th century, gave rise to radical economic and social change in Western Europe and the wider world. Both world wars took place for the most part in Europe, contributing to a decline in Western European dominance in world affairs by the mid-20th century as the Soviet Union and the United States took prominence. During the Cold War, Europe was divided along the Iron Curtain between NATO in the West and the Warsaw Pact in the East, until the revolutions of 1989 and fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1949 the Council of Europe was founded, following a speech by Sir Winston Churchill, with the idea of unifying Europe to achieve common goals, it includes all European states except for Belarus and Vatican City. Further European integration by some states led to the formation of the European Union, a separate political entity that lies between a confederation and a federation.
The EU originated in Western Europe but has been expanding eastward since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The currency of most countries of the European Union, the euro, is the most used among Europeans. In classical Greek mythology, Europa was a Phoenician princess; the word Europe is derived from her name. The name contains the elements εὐρύς, "wide, broad" and ὤψ "eye, countenance", hence their composite Eurṓpē would mean "wide-gazing" or "broad of aspect". Broad has been an epithet of Earth herself in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion and the poetry devoted to it. There have been attempts to connect Eurṓpē to a Semitic term for "west", this being either Akkadian erebu meaning "to go down, set" or Phoenician'ereb "evening, west", at the origin of Arabic Maghreb and Hebrew ma'arav. Michael A. Barry, professor in Princeton University's Near Eastern Studies Department, finds the mention of the word Ereb on an Assyrian stele with the meaning of "night, sunset", in opposition to Asu " sunrise", i.e. Asia.
The same naming motive according to "cartographic convention" appears in Greek Ἀνατολή. Martin Litchfield West stated that "phonologically, the match between Europa's name and any form of the Semitic word is poor." Next to these hypotheses there is a Proto-Indo-European root *h1regʷos, meaning "darkness", which produced Greek Erebus. Most major world languages use words derived from Europa to refer to the continent. Chinese, for example, uses the word Ōuzhōu. In some Turkic languages the Persian name Frangistan is used casually in referring to much of Europe, besides official names such as Avrupa or Evropa; the prevalent definition of Europe as a geographical term has been in use since the mid-19th century. Europe is taken to be bounded by large bodies of water