Study Guide

Artemis Fowl Mythology

By Eoin Colfer

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There's always a ton of symbolism within mythology, like how the goddess Artemis is usually shown with a deer at her side because she's all about the hunting, or a crescent moon on her head because the moon is sometimes a symbol of purity. But what if we think of mythology as a whole as a kind of symbol in its own right in this book? Stick with us, and we'll show you what we're talking about.

It's no secret that our author, Colfer, has a big love for Irish mythology. And for this book, he makes some of it up, but some of it is also pulled from traditional Irish lore. The Dé Dannans (4.47) in the book, for example, are named after the Tuatha Dé Dannan from our real world, and are mythological gods with all kinds of magical powers.

And the thing is, that by having the Dé Dannans obviously reference to the Tuatha Dé Dannan through their name, Colfer is also referencing the lore that surrounds their namesakes. And this includes important stories about how the Tuatha Dé Dannan used to be humans until they were defeated and driven underground, where they became the race known as the Sidhe. And what exactly are the Sidhe you ask? Why they're fairies of course.

So Colfer's not just throwing out mythological names for fun—and by making up a fairy origin for Santa Claus, giving the fairies rules like vampires about being invited in the house, and making Holly a direct descendant of Cupid, the world as we know it is redesigned, so that fairy culture is older and more spread out than human culture. Artemis may be a human and he may think he controls the show, but all this mixed-up mythology symbolizes a world that has belonged to the fairies for a really long time—much longer than any human geniuses.

If all this talk about mythology has piqued your interest about our main man and the goddess he's named after, then be sure to check out the analysis of Artemis in the "Characters" section for a breakdown of what he and his namesake do and do not have in common—and why it matters.

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