Famous Mythological Swords & Swordsmen [Updated]


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List of Famous Mythological Swords & Legendary Swordsmen [Updated]

Heroes of myths and legends usually wield weapons of extraordinary strength and ability. Regardless of the culture and country the myth originates from, the use of swords in ancient stories is a common feature.

From a literary perspective, swords complement a hero’s physical capabilities, or enhance a certain characteristic of the hero and make the story more multidimensional.

For bladesmithing and sword making enthusiasts, the descriptions of the swords themselves are valuable in understanding different styles of historical swords and the influence weapons had on both everyday life and the imagination.

Here are 12 swords from European, Middle Eastern, and Asian mythology that are sure to impress.


1) Excalibur

(Britain)

excalibur
One of many renditions of the famed Excalibur, sword of King Arthur.

Excalibur is the most famous sword on the list, and has been featured in countless movies, tv shows, video games, historical documentaries, and books.

Said to be the sword of King Arthur, Excalibur is Britain’s legendary weapon that possesses a few very powerful abilities. When first drawn, Excalibur’s blade blinds its wielder’s enemies. This is due to it being “lit by 30 torches.” The sword’s scabbard is also able to protect its bearer from physical harm.

The many translations of King Arthur’s stories muddle the identity of Excalibur. In some versions of the tales, Excalibur is the same weapon as The Sword in the Stone. Other translations differentiate between the two swords.


2) Arondight

(Britain)

Sir Lancelot
Illustration of Sir Lancelot, knight of the Round Table and wielder of Arondight. Amy Thewamy, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Arondight is another sword from the Arthurian legends of early Britain. It is the sword of Sir Lancelot, one of the knights of the Round Table.


3) Joyeuse

(France)

Charlemagne's joyeuse
A much debated 13th century sword said to be Joyeuse. It resides in the Louvre in Paris. Bradley Weber, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Legend has it that Joyeuse is the sword of Charlemagne, who was a real historical figure in early French history. The weapon is said to be forged from the materials used to create Durendal, which is discussed below.


4) Durendal

(France)

Roland with Durendal
A statue of Roland, the military icon of the Matter of France. dalbera from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Durendal is the sword of Roland, a military leader under Charlemagne and one of the main characters in the Matter of France, a medieval history of the country.

According to legend, Durendal is the sharpest sword in existence and is indestructible.


5) Caladbolg

(Ireland)

Queen Medb, Fergus mac Roich’s lover.

Caladbolg is the iconic sword of Fergus mac Roich in the Ulster Cycle of Irish Mythology. In these stories, the weapon is described as being a double handled sword that emits rainbows when swung. Caladbolg has the power to slice the tops off of three mountains in one stroke.


6) Gram

(Norway)

Gram Norse mythology
Sigurd, wielder of Gram, is shown in this medieval wood carving. Jeblad, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Gram is one of the most famous swords in Norse mythology. Gram is wielded by Sigurd in the Volsunga Saga to slay the fearsome dragon Fafnir. The sword has the power to slice an anvil in half.


7) Sword of Peleus

(Greece)

sword of peleus
A depiction of Peleus wrestling Atalanta. His sword is famous in Greek mythology. Staatliche Antikensammlungen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Sword of Peleus, father of Achilles is a legendary weapon featured in ancient Greek mythology. The sword grants its wielder victory in any battle or hunt.


8) Harpe

(Greece, Rome)

harpe weapon greek roman
The Harpe is featured in mythological stories and statues of Greek and Roman heroes. Rama, CC BY-SA 3.0 FR, via Wikimedia Commons

Harpe is a sickle-type sword used by Perseus to slay Medusa. This type of weapon is referenced in Greek and Roman mythology. It is also included in statues of mythological heroes from this culture.


9) Zulfiqar

(Modern-day Saudi Arabia, Middle East)

Muhammad's sword
Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Zulfiqar is a scissor-like sword with two blades that is depicted on historic flags from the Middle East and is referenced in stories. It is believed that the Archangel Gabriel gave Zulfiqar to the Prophet Muhammad.


10) Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar

(Persia)

shamshir sword
Closeup of a shamshir with a decorative scabbard. Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar is an emerald-studded sword featured in the story of Amir Arsalan. It is a weapon capable of defeating Fulad-zereh, a horned demon.


11) Dojikiri Yasutsuna

(Japan)

Japanese sword legends
This traditional artwork depicts Minamoto no Yorimitsu and his legendary sword. Ergsap / CC BY-SA

Dojikiri Yasutsuna is used by Minamoto no Yorimitsu, a hero of Japanese legends, to slay the terrible ogre Shutendouji.


12) Kusanagi no Tsurugi

(Japan)

Japanese shrine of Susanoo
The shrine of storm god Susanoo, who discovered the legendary blade Kusanagi no Tsurugi. Nissy-KITAQ, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kusanagi no Tsurugi is Japan’s most legendary sword. In Shinto mythology, the storm god Susanoo discovers this blade in the corpse of the Orochi Serpent. The sword represents the Virtue of Valor and is one of the Imperial Regalia of Japan.

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