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Myths surrounding Volcanoes

A prezi outlining the myths surrounding volcanoes.

Luka Ryder

on 2 November 2012

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Transcript of Myths surrounding Volcanoes

Volcanoes have affected humans throughout history, and many different cultures have attempted to explain them through individual unique myths. By examining these, it can show how the culture interacted with and viewed volcanoes. Additionally, it can explain why they decided to live in such close proximity to such a dangerous force of nature. Volcanoes in Mythology It is interesting to examine how individual cultures interpreted and attempted to understand what volcanoes were. Many of these cultures affect how we view volcanoes today. In fact, the name itself is derived from an island in Greece, named Vulcano, which itself was named after the Roman god Vulcan. Volcanoes and the Greeks and Romans The Greek and Roman gods of fire and craftsmanship are called Hephaestus and Vulcan, respectively. These are both in fact the same god, with essentially identical mythology surrounding them, just with different names for different cultures. Hephaestus, shown on the left, and Vulcan, right. The Greek and Roman myth revolving around these deity's and volcanoes is that, seeing as Hephaestus and Vulcan are the gods of fire and Craftsmanship, they had forges beneath the earth's crust where they would work. These forges gave off large amounts of ash and smoke, and this billowed to the surface of the earth. This was the ash clouds that billowed from the tops of volcanoes. Additionally, they believed that when there was an eruption, the god was either angered or something had gone awry in his workings. Essentially, they thought this Was a result of this Although obviously we know this is not even close to the truth, it did teach the ancient Greeks and Romans to respect volcanoes, as they did not want to anger the deity that created them. Even so, they did still want to live near to them, as they offered great soil and possible protection from the elements in the form of a windbreaker.Additionally, they may have wanted the favor of Hephaestus. Therefore, this myth created a safe practice surrounding volcanoes, while still promoting settlements in the direct vicinity of one. The legend of Llao and Skell A Native American Tribe near Mount Mazama had a very different reaction to volcanoes. They say the eruptions of Mount Mazama and thought it to be a war between the gods Llao and Skell. These gods fought so fiercely it created huge ash clouds and fiery eruptions. Above is a picture of Mount Mazama Interestingly, the Natives then set this area as far to dangerous to live near. It was essentially an area they feared. Even when the Europeans came and settled the area, the Natives did not mention the area as they did not want to anger the gods and were frightened to speak of the area. This myth did not lead whatsoever to an interest in living in the area, and in fact quite the opposite. However, their respect for the area may have led to many lives being saved, as Mount Hazama was believed to be a very active and violent volcano at the time. The Myth of Pele in Hawaii In Hawaiin myth, Pele is a powerful goddess that often has tantrums, resulting in volcanic eruptions. In fact, the creation of the islands were a direct result of a very large tantrum by Pele. Pele, shown on the left, is known as being a Deity that is rather volatile. This reflects how they may have seen volcanoes, unexpected and violent in their nature. Additionally, it is interesting that they attribute the creation of the islands to a huge bout of anger on the part of Pele. This is eerily similar to what actually happened. They simply could not understand that their home was in fact on a fault line that was creating these volcanoes, and as such attributed that force the a god, Pele.
The reason that Hawaii attracted the amount of people that it did is because although it represents a high risk of volcanic eruption, it also has incredibly rich soil, a direct result of hundreds of years of volcanic activity. This soil would promote agricultural advancements and also would maintain the many fruit baring trees in
area. This is a very positive attribute
for an area to have, especially hundreds of years ago when the natives believed
these myths. Therefore, it makes
sense that the natives inhabited
the Hawaiin islands. How does this pertain to our studies? The reasoning for why people choose to live near volcanoes has not really changed from back in the day when these myths were being established to now.

The Greeks, Romans and Hawaiin's knew that the soil around volcanoes was naturally richer. However, because they did not understand why, they attributed this to favor from their deity. Now a days, people live near volcanoes for the same reason, just with more actual knowledge on why the soil is richer. Additionally, the Native Americans represent a totally different side of living near volcanoes; a reason not to. They lived in a very northern part of the country, and so agriculture was not part of their culture. However, the eruption of the volcano still posed a very large threat. As such, there was no reason to live in the direct vicinity of the volcano, and many reasons not to. Therefore, it made sense they would keep their distance. Essentially, the reason we live near these... ... has not and will likely never change. Only our reasoning has changed. The fact that people knowingly settle into areas that have active volcanoes is a testament to the benefits they may have on a society, specifically agriculturally. Thanks for your time. Therefore, by studying why these people lived near these dangers and how they understood this phenomenon can help us in understanding the human reasoning regarding volcanoes historically, presently and moving forward.
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