Mythology

The term "mythology" can refer either to the study of myths (e.g., comparative mythology), or to a body or collection of myths (a mythos, e.g., Inca mythology). In folkloristics, a myth is a sacred narrative usually explaining how the world or humankind came to be in its present form, although, in a very broad sense, the word can refer to any traditional story. Bruce Lincoln defines myth as "ideology in narrative form". Myths typically involve supernatural characters and are endorsed by rulers or priests. They may arise as overelaborated accounts of historical events, as allegory for or personification of natural phenomena, or as an explanation of ritual. They are transmitted to convey religious or idealized experience, to establish behavioral models, and to teach.

Early rival classifications of Greek mythos by Euhemerus, Plato's Phaedrus, and Sallustius were developed by the neoplatonists and revived by Renaissance mythographers as in the Theologia mythologica (1532). Nineteenth-century comparative mythology reinterpreted myth as evolution toward science (E. B. Tylor), "disease of language" (Max Müller), or misinterpretation of magical ritual (James Frazer). Later interpretations rejected opposition between myth and science, such as Jungian archetypes, Joseph Campbell's "metaphor of spiritual potentiality", or Lévi-Strauss's fixed mental architecture. Tension between Campbell's comparative search for monomyth or Ur-myth and anthropological mythologists' skepticism of universal origin has marked the 20th century. Further, modern mythopoeia such as fantasy novels, manga, and urban legend, with many competing artificial mythoi acknowledged as fiction, supports the idea of myth as ongoing social practice.

Read more about Mythology:  Functions of Myth, Study of Mythology, Examples of Myths, Comparative Mythology, Modern Mythology

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Famous quotes containing the word mythology:

    Love, love, love—all the wretched cant of it, masking egotism, lust, masochism, fantasy under a mythology of sentimental postures, a welter of self-induced miseries and joys, blinding and masking the essential personalities in the frozen gestures of courtship, in the kissing and the dating and the desire, the compliments and the quarrels which vivify its barrenness.
    Germaine Greer (b. 1939)

    In the United States there’s a Puritan ethic and a mythology of success. He who is successful is good. In Latin countries, in Catholic countries, a successful person is a sinner.
    Umberto Eco (b. 1932)

    The Anglo-American can indeed cut down, and grub up all this waving forest, and make a stump speech, and vote for Buchanan on its ruins, but he cannot converse with the spirit of the tree he fells, he cannot read the poetry and mythology which retire as he advances. He ignorantly erases mythological tablets in order to print his handbills and town-meeting warrants on them.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)