Explore the World of Myths



9 Questions

What is the main characteristic of the characters in myths?

What is the difference between mythology and mythography?

What is the myth-ritual theory?

Who was Euhemerus?

What was Plato's critique of poetic myth?

What is comparative mythology?

What is the myth and ritual school?

What is the difference between mythology and popular misconception?

What is the relationship between myth and ritual according to the myth-ritual theory?


Myth: A Summary of Traditional Narrative

  • Myth is a narrative genre that plays a fundamental role in societies, such as foundational tales or origin myths, and is often endorsed by secular and religious authorities closely linked to religion or spirituality.

  • Many religious adherents believe that the narratives told in their respective religious traditions are historical without question, and so object to their identification as myths while labelling traditional narratives from other religions as such.

  • The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as gods, demigods, and other supernatural figures. Others include humans, animals, or combinations in their classification of myth.

  • Scholars use the term "myth" in varied ways, but in a broad sense, the word can refer to any traditional story, popular misconception, or imaginary entity.

  • Mythology usually refers to the collection of myths of a group of people, while mythography is the compilation or description of myths.

  • Comparative mythology is a systematic comparison of myths from different cultures, while functionalism argues that myths function to form and shape society and social behavior.

  • Some theories propose that myths began as allegories for natural phenomena, philosophical or spiritual concepts, or resulted from the personification of objects and forces.

  • According to the myth-ritual theory, myth is tied to ritual, and people begin performing rituals for reasons not related to myth. Later, they account for it by inventing a myth and claiming the ritual commemorates the events described in that myth.

  • Historically, important approaches to the study of mythology have included those of Vico, Schelling, Schiller, Jung, Freud, Lévy-Bruhl, Lévi-Strauss, Frye, the Soviet school, and the Myth and Ritual School.

  • Euhemerus was one of the most important pre-modern mythologists who interpreted myths as accounts of actual historical events, though distorted over many retellings.

  • Plato condemned poetic myth when discussing education in the Republic, and his critique was primarily on the grounds that the uneducated might take the stories of gods and heroes literally.

  • As Platonism developed in the phases commonly called Middle Platonism and neoplatonism, writers such as Plutarch, Porphyry, Proclus, Olympiodorus, and Damascius wrote explicitly about myths.A Brief History of Mythology Interpretation

  • Mythological themes were employed in literature, beginning with Homer.

  • Medieval romance plays with the process of turning myth into literature.

  • Euhemerism refers to the rationalization of myths.

  • Interest in polytheistic mythology revived during the Renaissance.

  • The first modern, Western scholarly theories of myth appeared in the 19th century.

  • One of the dominant mythological theories of the latter 19th century was nature mythology.

  • The mid-20th century saw the influential development of a structuralist theory of mythology.

  • The 20th century saw rapid secularization in Western culture.

  • From the late 20th century, researchers influenced by postmodernism tended instead to argue that each account of a given myth has its own cultural significance and meaning.

  • Mythological discourse can reach greater audiences than ever before via digital media.

  • The film industry has enabled filmmakers to transmit myths to large audiences via film.

  • Many contemporary films rely on ancient myths to construct narratives.


How much do you know about myths and their interpretation throughout history? Take this quiz to test your knowledge of the different theories and approaches to understanding traditional narratives, from their role in society to their use in literature and film. Challenge yourself to identify the main characters and themes in myths, and learn about the various schools of thought that have shaped the study of mythology over time. Don't miss out on this opportunity to expand your understanding of one of the oldest and most enduring forms of storytelling!

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