MYTHOLOGY refers variously to the collected myths of a group of
people or to the study of such myths.
Myth is a feature of every culture . Many sources for myths have been proposed, ranging from personification of nature or personification of natural phenomena , to truthful or hyperbolic accounts of historical events to explanations of existing ritual s. Mythologizing continues, as shown in contemporary mythopoeia such as urban legends and the expansive fictional mythoi created by fantasy novels and comics . A culture's collective mythology helps convey belonging , shared and religious experiences, behavioral models, and moral and practical lessons .
The study of myth began in ancient history . Rival classes of the
Greek myths by
Recent approaches often view myths as manifestations of psychological, cultural, or societal truths, rather than as inaccurate historical accounts.
* 1 Etymology * 2 Terminology
* 3 Origins
* 4 Functions
* 5.1 Pre-modern * 5.2 Nineteenth-century * 5.3 Twentieth-century
* 6 Comparative mythology * 7 Modern mythology * 8 See also * 9 Journals about mythology * 10 Notes * 11 References * 12 Further reading * 13 External links
* Arabian * Armenian * Aztec * Celtic * Christian * Chinese * Egyptian * Greek * Guarani * Hindu * Islamic * Japanese * Jewish * Korean * Mayan * Mesopotamian * Micronesian * Norse * Persian * Polynesian * Roman * Romanian * Slavic * Turkic
* v * t * e
The term mythology predates the word myth by centuries. It first appeared in the fifteenth century, borrowed from the Middle French term mythologie. The word mythology, ("exposition of myths"), comes from Middle French mythologie, from Late Latin mythologia, from Greek μυθολογία mythología ("legendary lore, a telling of mythic legends; a legend, story, tale") from μῦθος mythos ("myth") and -λογία -logia ("study"). Both terms translated the subject of Latin author Fulgentius ' fifth-century Mythologiæ, which was concerned with the explication of Greek and Roman stories about their gods, commonly referred to as classical mythology . Although Fulgentius' conflation with the contemporary African Saint Fulgentius is now questioned, the Mythologiæ explicitly treated its subject matter as allegories requiring interpretation and not as true events.
The word mythología appears in
In present use, mythology usually refers to the collected myths of a
group of people, but may also mean the study of such myths. For
The term is often distinguished from didactic literature such as
fables, but its relationship with other traditional stories, such as
legends and folktales , is more nebulous. Main characters in myths
are usually gods , demigods or supernatural humans, while legends
generally feature humans as their main characters. However, many
exceptions or combinations exist, as in the
One theory claims that myths are distorted accounts of historical events. According to this theory, storytellers repeatedly elaborate upon historical accounts until the figures in those accounts gain the status of gods. For example, the myth of the wind-god Aeolus may have evolved from a historical account of a king who taught his people to use sails and interpret the winds. Herodotus (fifth-century BC) and Prodicus made claims of this kind. This theory is named euhemerism after mythologist Euhemerus (c.320 BC), who suggested that Greek gods developed from legends about human beings.
Some theories propose that myths began as allegories for natural
See also: Mythopoeic thought
Some thinkers claimed that myths result from the personification of inanimate objects and forces. According to these thinkers, the ancients worshiped natural phenomena, such as fire and air, gradually deifying them. For example, according to this theory, ancients tended to view things as gods, not as mere objects. Thus, they described natural events as acts of personal gods, giving rise to myths. Most cultures across the globe have some form of mythology
See also: Myth and ritual
According to the myth-ritual theory, myth is tied to ritual. In its most extreme form, this theory claims myths arose to explain rituals. This claim was first put forward by Smith , who claimed that people begin performing rituals for reasons not related to myth. Forgetting the original reason for a ritual, they account for it by inventing a myth and claiming the ritual commemorates the events described in that myth. Frazer claimed that humans started out with a belief in magical rituals; later, they began to lose faith in magic and invented myths about gods, reinterpreting their rituals as religious rituals intended to appease the gods.
Eliade argued that one of the foremost functions of myth is to establish models for behavior and that myths may provide a religious experience. By telling or reenacting myths, members of traditional societies detach themselves from the present, returning to the mythical age, thereby coming closer to the divine.
Honko asserted that, in some cases, a society reenacts a myth in an attempt to reproduce the conditions of the mythical age. For example, it might reenact the healing performed by a god at the beginning of time in order to heal someone in the present. Similarly, Barthes argued that modern culture explores religious experience. Since it is not the job of science to define human morality, a religious experience is an attempt to connect with a perceived moral past, which is in contrast with the technological present.
Campbell writes: "In the long view of the history of mankind, four essential functions of mythology can be discerned. The first and most distinctive – vitalizing all – is that of eliciting and supporting a sense of awe before the mystery of being." "The second function of mythology is to render a cosmology, an image of the universe that will support and be supported by this sense of awe before the mystery of the presence and the presence of a mystery." "A third function of mythology is to support the current social order, to integrate the individual organically with his group;" "The fourth function of mythology is to initiate the individual into the order of realities of his own psyche, guiding him toward his own spiritual enrichment and realization."
In a later work Campbell explained the relationship of myth to civilization: The rise and fall of civilisations in the long, broad course of history can be seen largely to be a function of the integrity and cogency of their supporting canons of myth; for not authority but aspiration is the motivator, builder, and transformer of civilisation. A mythological canon is an organisation of symbols, ineffable in import, by which the energies of aspiration are evoked and gathered toward a focus.
Yet the history of civilization is not one of harmony. There are two pathologies. One is interpreting myth as pseudo-science, as though it had to do with directing nature instead of putting oneself in accord with nature, and the other is the political interpretation of myths to the advantage of one group within a society, or one society within a group of nations.
Pattanaik defines mythology as "a subjective truth of people that is communicated through stories, symbols and rituals". He adds, "unlike fantasy that is nobody’s truth, and history that seeks to be everybody’s truth, mythology is somebody’s truth."
HISTORY OF THE ACADEMIC DISCIPLINE
Historically, the important approaches to the study of mythology have
been those of Vico , Schelling ,
The critical interpretation of myth began with the Presocratics . Euhemerus was one of the most important pre-modern mythologists. He interpreted myths as accounts of actual historical events - distorted over many retellings. Sallustius divided myths into five categories – theological, physical (or concerning natural laws), animistic (or concerning soul), material, and mixed. Mixed concerns myths that show the interaction between two or more of the previous categories and are particularly used in initiations.
Interest in polytheistic mythology revived during the
Mythological themes were consciously employed in literature,
Conversely, historical and literary material may acquire mythological
qualities over time. For example, the
Matter of Britain (the legendary
history of Great Britain, especially those focused on
The first scholarly theories of myth appeared during the second half of the nineteenth-century. In general, these nineteenth-century theories framed myth as a failed or obsolete mode of thought, often by interpreting myth as the primitive counterpart of modern science.
For example, Tylor interpreted myth as an attempt at a literal explanation for natural phenomena. Unable to conceive impersonal natural laws, early humans tried to explain natural phenomena by attributing souls to inanimate objects, giving rise to animism . According to Tylor, human thought evolved through stages, starting with mythological ideas and gradually progressing to scientific ideas. Not all scholars, not even all nineteenth-century scholars, accepted this view. Lévy-Bruhl claimed "the primitive mentality is a condition of the human mind, and not a stage in its historical development."
Müller called myth a "disease of language". He speculated that myths arose due to the lack of abstract nouns and neuter gender in ancient languages. Anthropomorphic figures of speech, necessary in such languages, were eventually taken literally, leading to the idea that natural phenomena were in actuality conscious beings or gods.
Frazer saw myths as a misinterpretation of magical rituals, which were themselves based on a mistaken idea of natural law. According to Frazer, humans begin with an unfounded belief in impersonal magical laws. When they realize applications of these laws do not work, they give up their belief in natural law in favor of a belief in personal gods controlling nature, thus giving rise to religious myths. Meanwhile, humans continue practicing formerly magical rituals through force of habit, reinterpreting them as reenactments of mythical events. Finally humans come to realize nature follows natural laws, and they discover their true nature through science. Here again, science makes myth obsolete as humans progress "from magic through religion to science."
Segal asserted that by pitting mythical thought against modern scientific thought, such theories imply modern humans must abandon myth.
Many twentieth-century theories rejected the nineteenth-century theories' opposition of myth and science. In general, "twentieth-century theories have tended to see myth as almost anything but an outdated counterpart to science . Consequently, modern individuals are not obliged to abandon myth for science."
Jung tried to understand the psychology behind world myths. Jung asserted that all humans share certain innate unconscious psychological forces, which he called archetypes . He believed similarities between the myths of different cultures reveals the existence of these universal archetypes.
Campbell described two orders of mythology: myths that "are metaphorical of spiritual potentiality in the human being," and myths "that have to do with specific societies." His major work is The Masks of God I-IV. In the first volume, Primitive Mythology, he clearly outlines his intention:
Without straining beyond the treasuries of evidence already on hand in these widely scattered departments of our subject, therefore, but simply gathering from them the membra disjuncta of a unitary mythological science, I attempt in the following pages the first sketch of a natural history of the gods and heroes, such as in its final form should include in its purview all divine beings—as zoology includes all animals and botany all plants—not regarding any as sacrosanct or beyond its scientific domain. For, as in the visible world of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, so also in the visionary world of the gods: there has been a history, an evolution, a series of mutations, governed by laws; and to show forth such laws is the proper aim of science.
In his fourth volume Campbell coined the phrase, creative mythology , which he explains as:
In the context of traditional mythology, the symbols are presented in socially maintained rites, through which the individual is required to experience, or will pretend to have experienced, certain insights, sentiments and commitments. In what I'm calling creative mythology, on the other hand, this order is reversed: the individual has had an experience of his own – of order, horror, beauty, or even mere exhilaration-which he seeks to communicate through signs; and if his realization has been of a certain depth and import, his communication will have the force and value of living myth-for those, that is to say, who receive and respond to it of themselves, with recognition, uncoerced.
Lévi-Strauss believed myths reflect patterns in the mind and interpreted those patterns more as fixed mental structures, specifically pairs of opposites (good/evil, compassionate/callous), rather than unconscious feelings or urges.
In his appendix to Myths, Dreams and Mysteries, and in The Myth of the Eternal Return, Eliade attributed modern humans’ anxieties to their rejection of myths and the sense of the sacred.
In the 1950s, Barthes published a series of essays examining modern myths and the process of their creation in his book Mythologies .
Following the Structuralist Era (roughly the 1960s to 1980s), the predominant anthropological and sociological approaches to myth increasingly treated myth as a form of narrative that can be studied, interpreted and analyzed like ideology, history and culture. In other words, myth is a form of understanding and telling stories that is connected to power, political structures, and political and economic interests. These approaches contrast with approaches such as those of Campbell and Eliade that hold that myth has some type of essential connection to ultimate sacred meanings that transcend cultural specifics. In particular, myth was studied in relation to history from diverse social sciences. Most of these studies share the assumption that history and myth are not distinct in the sense that history is factual, real, accurate, and truth, while myth is the opposite.
Christian theologian Conrad Hyers wrote that
...myth today has come to have negative connotations which are the
complete opposite of its meaning in a religious context... In a
religious context, however, myths are storied vehicles of supreme
truth, the most basic and important truths of all. By them people
regulate and interpret their lives and find worth and purpose in their
Main article: Comparative mythology
Comparative mythology is the systematic comparison of myths from different cultures. It seeks to discover underlying themes that are common to the myths of multiple cultures. In some cases, comparative mythologists use the similarities between separate mythologies to argue that those mythologies have a common source. This source may inspire myths or provide a common "protomythology" that diverged into the mythologies of each culture.
Nineteenth-century interpretations of myth were often comparative,
seeking a common origin for all myths. Later scholars tend to avoid
universal statements about mythology. One exception to this modern
trend is Campbell's The
1929 Belgian banknote , depicting Ceres , Neptune and caduceus .
In modern society, myth is often regarded as a collection of stories. Scholars in the field of cultural studies research how myth has worked itself into modern discourses. Mythological discourse can reach greater audiences than ever before via digital media. Various mythic elements appear in television , cinema and video games .
Although myth was traditionally transmitted through the oral
tradition on a small scale, the film industry has enabled filmmakers
to transmit myths to large audiences via film. In Jung ian psychology
myths are the expression of a culture or society’s goals, fears,
ambitions and dreams.
The basis of modern visual storytelling is rooted in the mythological tradition. Many contemporary movies rely on ancient myths to construct narratives. Disney Corporation is well-known among cultural study scholars for "reinventing" traditional childhood myths. While many films are not as obvious as Disney fairy tales, the plots of many films are based on the rough structure of myths. Mythological archetypes, such as the cautionary tale regarding the abuse of technology, battles between gods and creation stories, are often the subject of major film productions. These films are often created under the guise of cyberpunk action movies , fantasy , dramas and apocalyptic tales.
Recent films such as Clash of the Titans , Immortals and Thor continue the trend of mining traditional mythology to frame modern plots. Authors use mythology as a basis for their books, such as Rick Riordan , whose Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is situated in a modern-day world where the Greek deities are manifest, as well as his Kane Chronicles with the Egyptian pantheon.
Modern myths such as urban legends shows that myth-making continues. Myth-making is not a collection of stories fixed to a remote time and place, but an ongoing social practice within every society.
Archetypal literary criticism
Myth and religion
Popular culture and media
* Mythopoeia - artificially constructed mythology, mainly for the purpose of storytelling.
JOURNALS ABOUT MYTHOLOGY
* Amaltea, Journal of Myth Criticism
* Mythological Studies Journal
* New Comparative
* ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "myth, n. Oxford University
Press (Oxford), 2003.
* ^ A B Kirk 1973 , p. 8.
* ^ Johnson, Samuel. "Mythology" in A Dictionary of the English
Language: in which the Words are Deduced from their Originals, and
Illustrated in their Different Significations by Examples from the
Best Writers to which are Prefixed a
* ^ "...I was ravisched in-to paradys.
"And Þus Þis god , diuers of liknes,
"More wonderful Þan I can expresse,
"Schewed hym silf in his appearance,
"Liche as he is discriued in Fulgence,
"In Þe book of his METHOLOGIES..." * ^ "mythology". Online
* ^ A B C D Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "mythology, n."
2003. Accessed 20 Aug 2014.
* ^ Hays, Gregory. "The date and identity of the mythographer
Fulgentius" in Journal of Medieval Latin, Vol. 13, pp. 163 ff. 2003.
* ^ Fulgentius, Fabius Planciades (1971). Fulgentius the
Mythographer. Ohio State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8142-0162-6 .
* ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed. "-logy, comb. form". Oxford
University Press (Oxford), 1903.
* ^ Browne, Thomas . Pseudodoxia Epidemica: or, Enquiries into Many
Received Tenets and Commonly Presumed Truths, Vol. I, Ch. VIII. Edward
Dod (London), 1646. Reprinted 1672.
* ^ All which may still be received in some acceptions of
morality, and to a pregnant invention, may afford commendable
MYTHOLOGIE; but in a natural and proper exposition, it containeth
impossibilities, and things inconsistent with truth.
* ^ Shuckford, Samuel. The Creation and Fall of Man. A Supplemental
Discourse to the Preface of the First Volume of the
* Apollodorus (1976). "Introduction".
* Dundes, Alan, ed. (1984).
* Honko, Lauri (1984). "The Problem of Defining Myth". Missing or empty title= (help ) * Kirk, G.S (1984). "On Defining Myths". pp. 53–61. Missing or empty title= (help ) * Pettazzoni, Raffaele (1984). "The Truth of Myth". Missing or empty title= (help )