In Sex in the World of Myth, David Leeming argues that sex is as important in myths as it is in our lives. Myths are our cultural dreams, and sex is pervasive in all mythologies because it has obsessed and confused us like nothing else - what's more, sexual myths, like all myths, can serve many purposes. The reproductive acts of the ancient Greek goddess Gaia perhaps reflect a pre-Olympian matriarchal social system. The tales of the unbridled sexual deeds of the Polynesian Maui, and many others, speak to a natural fascination with the power and mystery of sexual drives.
Leeming demonstrates how even when such myths are meant to elicit laughter or titillation, the participation in them of sacred heroes and deities means they are in some sense religious - partial answers to the nature of existence in general, and human sexuality in particular.
David Leeming is Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut. He is the co-author of Gods, Heroes, and Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain (2001) and author of numerous books on mythology, including Myth: A Biography of Belief (2002), The Oxford Companion to World Mythology (2005) and Medusa: In the Mirror of Time (Reaktion, 2013).