A thunderbolt is another term for a discharge of lightning accompanied by a loud thunderclap or a symbolic representation thereof. In its original usage the word may also have been a description of meteors , or of the consequences of a close approach between two planetary cosmic bodies , although this is not currently the case. As a divine manifestation it has been a powerful symbol throughout history, and has appeared in many mythologies. Drawing from this powerful association, the thunderbolt is often found in military symbolism and semiotic representations of electricity.
Lightning plays a role in many mythologies, often as the weapon of a sky and storm god. As such, it is an unsurpassed method of dramatic instantaneous retributive destruction: thunderbolts as divine weapons can be found in many mythologies.
The thunderbolt continues into the modern world as a prominent symbol; it has entered modern heraldry and military iconography.
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