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Introduction to Mythology
Transcript of Introduction to Mythology
Broadly speaking, myths and mythologies seek to rationalize and explain the universe and all that is in it. Thus, they have a similar function to science, theology, religion and history in modern societies. Systems of myths have provided a cosmological and historical framework for societies that have lacked the more sophisticated knowledge provided by modern science and historical investigation. (encyclopedia mythica)
One can speak of "Egyptian Mythology", "Indian Mythology", "Maori Mythology" or "Greek Mythology". In this sense one is describing a system of myths which were used by a particular society at some particular time in human history. It is also possible to group mythologies in other ways. For example one can group them geographically and then speak of "Oriental Mythology" and "African Mythology". This isn't always useful- the size of the location makes these labels too general.
myths provide an explanation of the origin of the universe in all its complexity. They are an important part of most mythological systems. Creation myths often invoke primal gods and animals, titanic struggles between opposing forces, or the death and/or dismemberment of these gods or animals as the means whereby the universe and its components were created.
: Apart from an explanation of the creation of the universe, mythologies also seek to explain everyday natural phenomena. The Egyptian scarab god Khepri, who rolled the ball of the sun across the sky each day, thus provided an explanation of the rising of the sun each day, its progress across the sky and its setting in the evening. Weather, the seasons, natural resources, and the characteristics of animals and plants are often addressed in nature myths.
: Myths are also often used to explain human institutions and practices as well. Setting a place at the table for dinner to honor Demeter is a good example. Likewise, the story of Romulus and Remus explains the founding of Rome. It seeks to account for some human institution or practice through a myth.
: Another class of myth is the Theogenic myth. These set out to delineate the relationships between various gods and other mythical personages and beings who are mentioned in previously existing myths. Theogenic Myths are thus secondary in their purpose. They set out to provide a reinforcement or framework for an existing system of myths. Many of the Greek myths contain Theogenic qualities, while also serving as nature, etiological, or creation myths too.
"A myth's serious purpose is either to explain the nature of the universe (creation and fertility myths) or to instruct members of the community in the attitudes and behavior necessary to function successfully in that particular culture (hero myths and epics)"(Rosenberg xv).
: This type of myth features a heroic character who battles difficulties to achieve some major goal. Myths involving Heracles are some that people still enjoy today. Hero myths serve to illustrate what qualities a society found admirable, desirable, or exceptional.
Archetypes of Mythology:
These are types of characters that serve as patterns or examples.
There are some that occur in many mythologies as common character types serving similar purposes.
Mother of the Gods
Goddess of mothers
and so on...