Theword myth originates from the Greek word ‘mythos’ which refers tothe act of telling a story. In every culture all around the globe,there exists distinctive myths that are many centuries old. Mythswere considered to bear special message to the living and explainphenomena that were beyond the understanding of human beings such asthe origin of world and life (Danchevskaya 5). Myth gives people froma given culture a special relationship with their environment, theuniverse and history. Myths are stories that exemplify a major issuesuch as the way human function, origin of the universe as well as howcharacters endorse an ordered sequence of events. In ancient daysmyths were disseminated orally, before writing was invented. Whilesome of the myths are meant to educate and teach the living speciallesson others are meant to entertain.
Mythologyis the study of myths. The term myth refers to a category of storiesthat share features that make this genre conspicuously different fromother oral narratives. Myths are symbolic tales of primitive timesthat recount to the beginning and nature of the universe and that islinked to belief system and that serve to direct social values andconduct (Bastian & Judy 3-4) Ever since the golden era of theRoman and Greek territories, myths have been used as a tool toexplain the nature of god and how the world came into existence.Throughout history, cultures from different societies around theglobe have a distinctive feature, events and values that make themunique. Mythology has been one of the frequently used sources in theproduction of different literal works. In general myths are centeredon a god and other creatures as the main characters and that maketheir explanation of the nature of worldly phenomenon possible. Forinstance, a myth concerning a black cat is that it is evil. The mostrecognized mythology is the Greek mythology. People from Greece useddifferent forms of artwork to depict their appreciation for gods andto narrate their stories. Myths are usually based on a historicalevent that reveals a natural phenomenon or human character throughsymbolism (William 15-17).Features
Thedistinctive feature that separates myths from other literal genres isthe use of gods, human with supernatural powers to exemplifydifferent aspects of the universe. In many culture myths are closelylinked with religion and rulers, and are usually regarded as trueaccounts of past in societies where they are told. The most salientmyth in different cultures around the globe is the creation myth. Inthe western world, there is a group of literal work that isassociated in different ways to myths. These narrative genres includeepics, fairy tales, legends and fables.SpecialFeatures of a MythThere are certain special features thatdifferentiate myths from other literal narratives. These are uniquetraits that are readily noticeable in a myth. These elements are whatqualify a narrative to be a myth.
Explanation of how life began
Explanation of natural phenomena
Presence of supernatural powers
Narrative is not a real event
Anatural curiosity to give an explanation for various natural andsocial events such as the origin of mankind compelled man to invent anarrative. In ancient days, there was no scientific knowledge andtheories to account for various phenomena that were beyond humanunderstanding. In this primordial period man devised creation andresurrection myths, compounds system of supernatural beings and otherstories to account for some of these mysteries. In the primordialperiod, small groups of people were secluded in different parts ofthe planet, and as such myths developed and evolved independently. Astime passed, one version of the story would be accepted as the trueexplanation of natural phenomena. This story would be passed from onegeneration to another through the word of mouth and written materialafter the discovery of books. Inexorably myths became an integralpart of religion and were incorporated into ritual and rites whichincluded magic, music and dancing.
Anotherbasic function of myth is to rationalize an existing social systemand to offer an explanation for customs. There is an invariable ruleof mythology that states that anything that happens among godsmirrors events of the planet. In this line, events such as drasticsocial transformation became an integral part of myths. Many of themyths, particularly those that come from Greek and Romans in theprimordial era, serve to illustrate show moral principles throughdeeds of heroism carried out by human beings (Fiore 6-7).
Thereare different theories in modern history that exemplify thedevelopment of mythology. Euhemerism theory claims that myths aremisrepresented narratives of true historical events. Based on theprecepts of this theory narrators elaborate upon historical accountsto the extent that figures in the stories assumed the status of gods(Leonard 1). The theory is named after a famous mythologistEuhemerus, who proposed that Greek gods developed from legends abouthuman beings.Allegory
Othertheories suggest that myths emerged from allegories. Proponents ofthis theory indicate that myths developed from allegories forphilosophical concepts or natural phenomena. For example, Athenasymbolizes shrewd ruling, while Apollo symbolizes the sun. Othertheorist contends that myths developed as allegorical explanations ofnatural phenomenon, which progressively came to be construedliterally (Leonard 1). For instance, a poetic narrative of the sea as‘raging’ in the due course was taken literally, and the sea wasthen considered as raging god.Personification
Somescholars believe that myths developed from the personification ofinert things and forces. According to these theorists, individualswho lived on the primordial period began to worship natural phenomenasuch as fire. As time passed these natural phenomena were raised tothe status of a god giving rise to myths (Leonard 1). Myth-ritualtheory
Themyth –ritual theory contends that myths are inexplicably linked toritual in a given cultural setting. Proponents of myth-ritual theoryclaim that myth developed to elucidate rituals (Leonard 1). It isbelieved that individuals in different parts of the globe began toperforming rituals for specific reasons that have no link to themyth. In the course of history, the newer generation could notidentify the original reason for the ritual and as such strived toaccount for the ritual by circumventing a myth and contending thatthe ritual memorializes the events detailed in that myth.
Fromancient times, some cultures have had gods for many aspects of theirlife. From the famous Egyptian, to Greeks and Hebrews Myths formed animportant part of the social life of these ancient civilizations.Mythology of primordial Greece encompassed an array of gods, heroesand monsters. These figures were believed to have insurmountablepowers over the universe and human behavior.
WhenGreek mythology infiltrated into the European culture, many of theirstories were disseminated all over the world. Even so, in everysociety there were myths that sought to explain various phenomena inthe society. Greek literal work was the first examples of myths. InGreece stories were passed from one generation to the other throughwords of mouth. However, when man discovered writing myths became animportant part of literal materials. The work of Homer which explainsthe origin of the cosmos and its constituent compounds is one of theearliest literal works in this genre. The Roman actively adopted theGreek elements of myth and poet such as Ovid is some of most famousmythology writers in the world (William 15-17).From ancienttimes, some cultures have had gods for many aspects of their life.From the famous Egyptian, to Greeks and Hebrews Myths formed animportant part of the social life of these ancient civilizations.Modern cultures and societies have their own myths. However manyauthors contend that modern societies lack vibrant mythology. In themodern world there are particular concepts that transcend the realmsof mythology, for example, Mother Teresa is referred to as thegoddess of compassion, Bill Gate as god of personal computer andAlbert Einstein as god of the imagination and intellect. Some famousartists such as Marilyn Monroe are referred to as the goddess of thescreen (Feldman 444).Future of myth
Incontemporary societies, myths are considered as archaic and obsolete.Breakthrough in technology has facilitated the dissemination ofmythological discourse in different communication platforms. Variousaspects of mythology can now be found in video format, in televisionand cinemas. Digital technologies have enabled transmission of mythsto a large audience. Myths exemplify society’s ambitions, dreamsand visions. Modern movies express society’s goals, achievementsand mysteries and as such they depict evolution of myth. Through themanner in which myth are transmitted has changed the central idea ofthe myth and most contemporary movies is the same (Feldman 444).
Primordialmyths live in our culture. In a contemporary world we find referencesof ancient myths in many literal expressions and words such asOedipus complex, and the Pandora’s Box. Other commonly used wordsderived from mythology include, fate (derived from Fate), Morality(derived from Mors) and martial and March derived from the Roman wargod called mars. The distinctive feature that separates myths fromother literal genres is the use of gods, human with supernaturalpowers to exemplify different aspects of the universe. In manyculture myths are closely linked with religion and rulers, and areusually regarded as the true reality of things in societies wherethey are told. From ancient times, some cultures have had gods formany aspects of their life. From the famous Egyptian, to Greeks andHebrews Myths formed an important part of the social life of theseancient civilizations. Modern cultures and societies have their ownmyths. However many authors contend that modern societies lackvibrant mythology. Myths exemplify society’s ambitions, dreams andvisions. Modern movies express society’s goals, achievements andmysteries and as such they represent myths in their evolved form.
Bastian,Dawn E, and Judy K. Mitchell. Handbook of Native AmericanMythology. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2004. Print
Danchevskaya,Oksana.NativeAmerican Mythology in Modern American Literature (Analysis of theNovels’’ Ceremony’’ by Leslie Marmon Silko and ‘’House ofDawn’’ by N. Scott Momaday).2002.
Feldman,Burton, and Robert D. Richardson. The Rise of Modern Mythology,1680-1860. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988. Print
Fiore,John. Symbolic Mythology: Interpretations of the Myths of AncientGreece and Rome. San Jose, Calif: Writers Club Press, 2001.Print.
Leonard,Scott. "The History of Mythology: Part I". Scott A.Leonard`s Home Page. August 2007.YoungstownState University, 17 November 2009
William,Hansen. Classical Mythology : a Guide to the Mythical World of theGreeks and Romans. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print