I just saw the "How did Zeus become king of the gods?" question. It's not clear from the question whether the OP wants an answer from within the myths or a anthropological answer. I wanted to ask for clarification but wasn't sure what phrasing to use. In fiction/film, we'd ask if they want an "in universe" or a "real world" answer.

What would be the mythological equivalent for in universe/real world?

3 Answers 3


Why not just use "in-universe"? It might not be entirely academic, but it does get the message across.

Here's an example of a question using the term.


Christianity.SE gets around this problem by requiring that questions be answerable as objective facts, not as beliefs.

E.g. "Gibet"'s example question (Was Jesus a man, a demi-god, or God?) would be asked as several questions, such as:

  • Which denominations believe that Jesus was God?
  • Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus was divine, but not fully God?
  • Are there Christians that follow Jesus's teachings but believe he was only a human prophet?

All questions are presented as if asking a knowledgeable atheist scholar.

It's too late to impose that rule here though.

"in-universe" is a generally understood term, and can easily be looked up (e.g. What does "in-universe" mean? - Science Fiction & Fantasy Meta Stack Exchange).

Its use here wouldn't be inappropriate, especially in comments.

It would be acceptable in questions too, though it would still be better to ask questions objectively:

  • What attributes of God-X made the Romans believe he was more powerful than God-Y?
  • What caused God-Z to be held in higher esteem in Roman mythology than in Greek?

The first is in-universe (it could be asked of a Roman or Greek priest, and they would understand and be able to answer).

The second isn't in-universe (the priest would be confused by the "mythology" term).


The problem is here far more complex than what you first think... Let me demonstrate. Let's talk about Christianity. You can think it is easy. Let's talk about Christ. What/who he is:

  • a man (stated in the Bible)
  • a demi-god (mythologically speaking)
  • a personification god (according to some Christians)

If you know anything about Christianity you just know how that question I just ask is a horrible one. With multiple answers.

A lot depends here on how you are attacking the problem, the point of view, which is leading to very broad answers. And which one would be better. Mythologically speaking Jesus is a demi-god, still, the Bible refrains to call him that, so he is not.

So you can use according to "the canon". Which would mean without going further than what the text implies. But at the chore, your problem is a problem you face when toying with myths. It is a delicate subject (hopefully most of the time we are dealing with dead religions at the chore so we do not run the risk of hurting the natural sensibility of people).

  • I'm not sure this answers my question (leaning towards no). "A lot depends here on how you are attacking the problem..." This is what I want to know from the OP--does he want an answer from the myths (killed his father, freed his siblings, yada yada yada" or from history/anthropology (cultural shift from earth gods to sky gods, blah blah blah). What are the proper terms to use when asking that? How should we encourage people asking questions to phrase their questions?
    – miltonaut
    Nov 16, 2018 at 22:02

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