WHAT IS MYTHOLOGY? Theterm mythology can refer to either thestudy of myths, or to a body of myths.
WHAT IS A MYTH? (Wikipedia) Myths provide people with In Folkloristics, a myth is explanations, histories, role a sacred narrative usuallymodels, entertainment, and many explaining how the world orother things that enable them to humankind came to be in its direct their own actions and present form. understand their own surroundings. A story that serves to define the fundamental worldview of a culture by explaining aspects of the natural world and delineating the psychological and social practices and ideals of a society
PURPOSE OF MYTHS To explain the inexplicable to justify an existingPurpose social system and to account for its rites and customs to illustrate moral principles, frequently through feats of heroism performed by mortals
NATURE OF MYTHS•Main characters are usually gods orsupernatural heroes•endorsed by rulers and priests andclosely linked to religion•usually regarded as a true account ofthe remote past•generally take place in a primordial age
COMPARED WITH OTHER STORIES… LEGENDS FOLKTALES• set in a more recent • can take place at any time, when the time and any world was much as it place, and they are is today not considered true• generally feature or sacred by the humans as their societies that tell main characters them
ORIGINS OF MYTHOLOGYEuphemerism Allegories Myth-RitualPersonification Theory
EUPHEMERISMOne theory claims that myths are distorted accounts of real historical events. According to this theory, storytellers repeatedly elaborated upon historical accounts until thefigures in those accounts gained the status of gods.
ALLEGORIES The 19th century Sanskritist Max Müller supported an allegorical theory of myth. He believed that myths began as allegorical descriptions of nature, but gradually came to be interpreted literally: for example, a poetic description of the sea as"raging" was eventually taken literally, and the sea was then thought of as a raging god.
PERSONIFICATION• Some thinkers believe that myths resulted from the personification of inanimate objects and forces. According to these thinkers, the ancients worshipped natural phenomena such as fire and air, gradually coming to describe them as gods. For example, according to the theory of mythopoeic thought, the ancients tended to view things as persons, not as mere objects.
MYTH – RITUAL THEORY According to the myth- ritual theory, the existence of myth is tied to ritual. In its most extreme form, this theory claims that myths arose to explain rituals.
According to Mircea Eliade:1. to establish models for behavior 2. provide a religious experience 3. members of traditional societies detachthemselves from the present and return tothe mythical age, thereby bringingthemselves closer to the divine
According to Lauri Honko:1. to reproduce theconditions of themythical age2. to connect with aperceived moral past,which is in contrastwith the technologicalpresent
According to Joseph Campbell:1. Mystical Function--experiencing the awe of the universe;2. Cosmological Function--explaining the shape of the universe;3. Sociological Function--supporting and validating a certain social order;4. Pedagogical Function--how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances.
PRE-MODERN THEORIES•The critical interpretation of myth goes back as far asthe Presocratics.•Euphemerus was one of the most important pre-modernmythologists. He interpreted myths as accounts of actualhistorical events, distorted over many retellings.•This view of myths and their origin is criticized by Platoin which Socrates says that this approach is the provinceof one who is "vehemently curious and laborious, and notentirely happy . . ." The Platonists generally had a moreprofound and comprehensive view of the subject.
• Sallustius, for example, divides myths into five categories – theological, physical (or concerning natural laws), animastic (or concerning soul), material and mixed. This last being those myths which show the interaction between two or more of the previous categories and which, he says, are particularly used in initiations.• Interest in polytheistic mythology revived in the Renaissance, with early works on mythography appearing in the 16th century, such as the Theologia mythologica (1532).
19TH CENTURY THEORIES• E. B. Tylor interpreted myth as an attempt at a literal explanation for natural phenomena: unable to conceive of impersonal natural laws, early man tried to explain natural phenomena by attributing souls to inanimate objects, giving rise to animism.• According to Tylor, human thought evolves through various stages, starting with mythological ideas and gradually progressing to scientific ideas. Not all scholars — not even all 19th century scholars — have agreed with this view.
• Lucien Lévy-Bruhl claimed that "the primitive mentality is a condition of thehuman mind, and not a stage in its historical development.“
• Max 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 conscious beings, gods.
• The anthropologist James Frazer saw myths as a misinterpretation of magical rituals; which were themselves based on a mistaken idea of natural law.• According to Frazer, man begins with an unfounded belief in impersonal magical laws. When he realizes that his applications of these laws dont work, he gives up his belief in natural law, in favor of a belief in personal gods controlling nature — thus giving rise to religious myths.
• Robert Segal asserts that by pitting mythical thought against modern scientific thought, such theories implied that modern man must abandon myth.
20th CENTURY THEORIESSwiss psychologist CarlJung (1873–1961) tried tounderstand the psychologybehind world myths. Jungasserted that all humans sharecertain innate unconsciouspsychological forces, which hecalled archetypes. Jung believedthat the similarities betweenthe myths from differentcultures reveals the existence ofthese universal archetypes.
• Joseph Campbell believed that there were two different orders of mythology: that there are myths that, "are metaphorical of spiritual potentiality in the human being", and that there are myths, "that have to do with specific societies".
Claude Lévi- Strauss believed that myths reflect patterns in the mind and interpreted those patterns more as fixed mental structures — specifically, pairs of opposites (i.e. good/evil, compassionate/callous) — than as unconscious feelings or urges
• Mircea Eliade attributed modern man’s anxieties to his rejection of myths and the sense of the sacred.
• In the 1950s, Roland Barthes published a series of essays examining modern myths and the process of their creation in his book.
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 different mythologies to argue that those mythologies have a common source. This common source may be a common source of inspiration (e.g. a certain natural phenomenon thatinspired similar myths in different cultures) or a common "protomythology" that diverged into the various mythologies we see today