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Myth Essay

What Is Myth?

❶Harry Potter is nothing if not an exemplar of virtues our culture values. In fact, we know almost nothing certain about such sacred narratives because they were considered so sacred that to write them down was blasphemy, and to tell others about them was an offense punishable by exile or death.

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They are both retrospective and futuristic, and address past, present and future societies in many cases. As a student, you might be an amateur in the subject of mythology. All the characters from Greek, Norse or even Mayan civilizations may be too much for you to digest. A custom writer from us will help you deliver a superb creation myth essay, whether from fantasy or documented sources.

Greek history is a rich canvas of mythological subjects, with everything from humanoids, gods, deities, titans and mythical creatures such as the Centaurs and Athos. The polytheistic nature of the Greeks means that there is a wide array of characters that you need to read on and study, including what they possibly represented to the societies of the time.

Their ancient traditions and beliefs were passed down through these stories and even became a grand part of the Hellenistic culture as we know it today. Greek mythology has taken on a life of its own, and your research will bring you into new spheres that might take too much time to research effectively.

We provide you with Greek mythology essay topics which serve as great fodder for your writing, or if you want to learn everything about Greek culture including festivals, rituals, architecture, etc.

You can also view a sample of our Andromeda Greek mythology essay. This legend of the beautiful Ethiopic princess who is chained to a rock waiting to be devoured by a sea monster is but one of the hundreds of the myths that our writers have covered on ancient Greek mythology. Movies have made the visualization seemingly more vivid from a modern lens. Yet, have you ever stopped to see the correlation between these different stories and how they affect our own 21 st century narratives?

Some of the most well-known stories that we know today draw from the ancient hero archetype, with stages such as the call to adventure, meeting with the mentor, crossing thresholds, the ordeal and returning with the reward, etc. Themes such as gender equality and the fight of a woman against backward ideologies all draw from this hero narrative. Myth essays ideas that you can use for your motivation include subjects such as the origin of lightning and thunder, why the sun rises and sets, darkness and light, ancient creatures, etc.

Such features of literary art require no special training to be understood and enjoyed and therefore reach people more quickly and more profoundly than even the most elegant proof or carefully phrased theory. They will know the ostensible cause of the Trojan War. They will be able to tell you the fate that befell Oedipus. This is not to say that mythic truth is powerful and enduring while philosophical truth is weak and fleeting.

Nevertheless, myths like all forms of fiction are enduring because they are entertaining and accessible in ways that philosophy and science seldom are. Are Myths Sacred Narratives? If we accept the notion that myths are, first and foremost, stories, we must still determine just what kind of stories they are.

A Study of C. Jung, Mircea Eliade, and Joseph Campbell , that modern students of myth do not actually study muthoi , per se. In short, to study myth as Ellwood defines it, we would have to record and analyze the performances of storytellers and the still-fresh visions of poets, prophets, and dreamers.

However, not all myths are sacred; and not all sacred stories are committed to writing and therefore they can never be, literally speaking, script -ure. For example, most students, when they hear the word myth think of the epics, poems, and plays of the Greeks and Romans. And they are not wrong. It would be perverse to argue that the stories featured in Greek plays about such memorable characters as Orestes, Oedipus, and Clytemnestra are not also myths.

Ordinary Greeks and Romans did not read passages from the Odyssey to solemnize religious ceremonies. Various playwrights reworked even fundamental elements of their mythic traditions without fear of being excommunicated for abusing holy scripture. While it is true that religious belief and ritual are portrayed accurately, even reverently, in Greco-Roman myth, that fact alone does not make them sacred narratives. In the ancient world, only those stories told by sanctuary personnel during special religious ceremonies were considered sacred.

In fact, we know almost nothing certain about such sacred narratives because they were considered so sacred that to write them down was blasphemy, and to tell others about them was an offense punishable by exile or death. These tribes observed strict taboos and traditions dictating how their most important stories might properly be performed.

For example, some stories could only be told at night, others could only be uttered during the season between the first killing frost of autumn and the first lightening bolt of spring.

These cultures never developed writing systems; but, so far as we can tell, their oral narratives became relatively fixed in terms of plot details, characters, and meaning.

However, there are a variety of myths, both written and oral, that are not subject to the kinds of taboos and traditions that would define them as sacred. Our modern sense of the term retains these contradictory ancient meanings and associations. Further complicating the picture, is the fact that nonspecialists tend to use the words myth, folktale, legend, saga, and fable interchangeably. This is understandable because these genres overlap to a significant degree; however, those seeking a more precise definition of myth do well to understand the differences as well as the similarities among these terms.

Families, for example, are an oft-studied folk-group; quilters, southerners, and Gulf-Coast shrimpers have also been studied as distinct folk groups. Given the breadth of this definition, it is difficult to imagine a story that could not be classified as a folktale. Surely the stories recounted in myths, religious teachings, history books, and political speeches, for example, are manifestations of the ideas, beliefs, traditions, and proverbial sayings of such large folk groups as the Americans or the Japanese.

And, indeed, the Journal of American Folklore routinely publishes articles and reviews books on myth, an indication that American folklorists, as a professional group, consider myth to be a subset of their discipline. Most specialists would define legends as stories that have traditionally been accepted as true accounts of historical events, but which actually combine elements of fact and fiction.

The stories of King Arthur, for example, are most properly classified as legends because there is evidence for an historical Arthur around whom such fictional materials as the Sword in the Stone, the Round Table, and the Tale of the Green Knight have accumulated over the centuries. To the extent that the Iliad , for example, is based on actual battles between Mycenaean Greeks from the mainland and the so-called Trojans inhabiting a city on the coast of Anatolia modern-day Turkey , this epic could also be considered a legend, or a myth incorporating legend, or, even, a work of fiction based on a legend.

In fact, most Greeks and Romans in the ancient world accepted the Trojan War as historical fact and its heroes as actual persons, a fact that further justifies classifying the Iliad as a legend. In Norse myth, Saga is the goddess of the literary arts and our modern term for narratives of this kind derives from her inspiration of such Norse and Icelandic literature as the Eddas , The Volsung Saga , and The Vinland Sagas.

Typically, the stories constituting a saga are chronological and self-referential. That is, they follow the story of a hero or a family as it develops over time, with the later episodes building on events occurring in earlier episodes.

Driven mad by Hera, Hercules murders his wife and children. When he returns to his senses, he is overcome by guilt and grief. Eventually, Apollo tells him the only way he can atone for this terrible deed is to serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae, for twelve years.

Eurystheus is no friend of Heracles. Accordingly, the king assigns the great hero twelve seemingly impossible tasks which Heracles nevertheless accomplishes with occasional help from Athena and Apollo. While these stories are told primarily to entertain, they often feature moral lessons and reinforce socially acceptable behaviors and attitudes.

Jack, before climbing the beanstalk, is berated by his mother for being gullible and disobedient, two socially unacceptable qualities. Today, the term fable typically refers to short narratives featuring animals that speak and act like humans and which usually conclude with an explicit moral.

The parables of Jesus in the New Testament are particularly well-known examples of this form. He likens his own parables to seeds, some of which fall on the road, some on rocky soil, some among thorns, and some on well-tended soil.

As he explicitly explains to his disciples, the parable-seed cannot take root in most of his hearers because their mind-soil is not suitable for growing the Truth. The ability to penetrate the literal surface of his parables and thereby perceive the hidden message about the kingdom of heaven, Jesus suggests, is a prerequisite for being one of his disciples. While parables and fables are relatively brief and impart a single, definite moral or teaching, allegories may be quite extensive and communicate a number of moral lessons.

Like metaphors, the secondary meanings of allegories are implied rather than explicitly stated and therefore appeal first to the imagination and only secondarily to the reason.

Nevertheless, an occasional few escape the cave and, through a long, difficult intellectual journey, discover the true nature of reality and attain a sort of mystical union with ultimate Goodness. On the other hand, Plato intends for us to understand the characters mentioned in the Atlantis story as actual heroes of a bye-gone age rather than as figures symbolizing specific ideas or human qualities.

Taken on their own terms, myths dramatize the human struggle for dignity, meaning, and purpose in the unique idioms of the cultures that produce them. They are not, by contrast, coded messages that use symbolic characters and events to represent a supposedly primitive fascination with the weather or heavenly lights two allegorical interpretative strategies used for centuries to make rational sense out of Greek myth.

Returning to the touchstone examples of this chapter, we might ask what kind of stories, exactly, are the Iliad and the Odyssey? Are these epics artfully embellished folktales? Or are they pleasingly understated lessons in the accumulated wisdom of ancient Greek culture?

Yet, they are more than the legend of the Trojan War and its aftermath, more than a literary account of Bronze-Age folkways, more than a saga about the wanderings of a tribal hero desperate to return to his home. Moreover, these epics are too secular to be classified as sacred narratives and too rooted in the dust, sweat, and blood of real life to be allegories. Thus, with all due respect to folklorists, myth is not a subspecies of folklore but a distinct genre that may make use of various folk materials, legends, and sagas, but transforms them into a more universally resonant form.

A Working Definition What, then, is myth? It should be obvious by now that there is no simple answer to this question. The English language has no equivalent term for muthos and, when we appropriated this term from the Greek, we inherited the ambiguities it had acquired in Greece long before the Common Era.

Words have histories; their usages evolve; their legitimate associations multiply over time. Nevertheless, a provisional and open-ended working definition should prove a useful starting place for further investigation and analysis. Our class defines myth as culturally significant works of the creative imagination that frequently feature 1 dramatizations of metaphysical speculation; 2 accounts of cultural and cosmic origins and conclusions; 3 exemplars of individual and collective virtues; and 4 depictions of cultural values, beliefs, and rituals.

Myths are often but not always sacred stories that deal in the metaphoric rather than the literal or scientific truth about human experience and the nature of being and do so with an emphasis on artistic merit, often at the expense of rationality and logical consistency. This definition, so far as it goes, may seem pretty straightforward.

But when we examine it more closely, we see that its terms could just as easily apply to the Harry Potter novels as they could to the Iliad or the Epic of Gilgamesh.

They do, in fact, dramatize a vision of the nature of reality and the rules by which it operates; that is, they imagine a universe in which some are born with magical gifts and others are not and then set a story against this backdrop.

We learn, through the course of seven novels, how Hogwarts was founded and how its customs and hierarchy was established a mini-version of cultural origins.

Harry Potter is nothing if not an exemplar of virtues our culture values.

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- In the essay The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus attempts to give answers to some tough questions. He wants to know if life is worth living or how we can make it worth living, as well as whether or not it is possible to live with certainty.

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