Foundations of mythology
Paper needs to be 600-875 words answering the following questions. How is the word myth used popularly? For example, what does the statement “it’s a myth” mean? In contrast, how is the word myth used in the academic context? Write a definition on your own words. What are the moat common mythological themes across different cultures? Why do myths from different cultures around the world address such similar or universal themes? Do we see the same themes in today’s myths? Think about how myths explain the unknown and the tribulations of mankind?
Foundations of Mythology
When I was a child my parents used to tell me that boogieman would walk around every Friday night taking away children who had refused to go to school that week to his caves where he would torment them. To avoid being taken away and tormented by the boogieman, I would go to school every day without complaining. Later, when I grew up, I came to understand that such a story was used on different children just to manipulate them into doing one thing or another or into accepting certain rules. To get a clear picture of foundations of mythology, it is important to start by developing a clear understanding of the definition of the term myth. This paper will discuss the popular usage of the term myth, the mythical themes that are used across different cultures, the relevance of mythology in the current society, and the relationship existing between mythology, belief and knowledge.
Popularly, myths are defined as traditional stories of apparent events in the history, which explain the worldview of a given community or their practices, natural phenomenon, or beliefs. Such myths are associated with deeds, events, and conditions that that are superhuman and godly in nature, which surpass human capabilities yet remain relevant to it (Devinney, 2016). Thus, myths vary from community to community, or region to region, such as the Egyptian mythology and the American mythology, which differ. Myths are used in folktales and short stories, which are told to individuals from generation to generation, making them believe that they hold a certain level of truth, when they are actually not true, such as the visiting of Santa Claus on Christmas Day (Farrow, 2009). By saying that “it is a myth”, one implies that a statement is false yet posed as true. Case in point, a preacher may preach of how bad hell is and the amount of torment that sinners will receive in hell. Nevertheless, no one has actually visited hell to give an account of such torments, and thus is still uncertain if hell even exists. When it comes to the academic context, the term “myth” refers to ancient narratives, which are used in an attempt to respond to the fundamental and enduring questions that are posed by human beings. Such questions may include: Where did we come from? How did the world come into existence? What responsibilities and roles do we have towards each other as human beings? What are our values? How, and how not, should we interact with or behave towards each other? According to my understanding, a myth is a story that has been exaggerated to provide a restrictive guideline for human behaviour and for the purposes of entertainment.
Among other themes, the creation of human beings remains to be the most common myth across various cultures, considering the fact that almost every person has questioned how we came it existence (Schelling, 2007). On a common note, the myth of creation is applied in a mythological-religious story that vividly explains the genesis of human life and the universe at large, and that their existence was as a result of the actions of a supreme being or beings. Various cultures have different versions of a supreme being, which they refer to as a God, who created the earth and all its inhabitants, including human beings. As much as each of these cultures has their own God, they all believe that this God is a supernatural being who created the each and everything else in it, which forms a universal myth of creation. Different persons use folktales and myths to practice their beliefs, allowing them to interact with each other on the foundation of their historical events and beliefs, in exclusion of their differing cultures (Devinney, 2016). As such, myths can either link or separate cultures. Myths create short stories, values, and viewpoints that are shared universally in the explanation of human behaviour and cultural expectations.
There is an outstanding level of similarity between knowledge, beliefs, religion, and mythology. On one hand, knowledge is referred to as justified true belief, while religion is only referred to as a belief (Farrow, 2009). Interestingly, both mythology and religion, explain the various perceptions that are upheld by particular cultures in view of the sacred or supernatural. There is a correlation between mythology, knowledge, and belief as one ought to have certain knowledge for them to sustain certain beliefs such as those promoted by religion. Scriptural readings and prayers are used in religion to offer support to individuals in coping with loss, change, death, and suffering (Schelling, 2007). On the other hand, other cultures may have distinct practices which serve the same purpose.
In conclusion, myths could be termed as
traditional poetic imaginative stories that concern certain beliefs, such as
religious beliefs, cultural beliefs, and heroic human beings, among others,
which remain relevant to the modern society as they provide perspectives and
directions on how people should live via principles and beliefs (Devinney, 2016). The lessons
provided by myths are mostly supported by life experiences which tend to
justify the message conveyed by the myth. Case in point, contemporary religious
myths provide lessons from which people learn how to overcome various
challenges and hardships in life.
Devinney, M. K. (2016). Introduction to Mythology: Contemporary Approaches to Classical and World Myths. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Farrow, J. G. (2009). Introduction to Mythology. New York: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
Schelling, F. W. (2007). Historical-critical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mythology. New York: State University of New York Press.