1) Theory of Myth
How is myth defined?
The word myth comes from the Greek word “mythos” which could mean story, word,
speech, or tale. Essentially, myth is a
that maybe narrated orally but usually it is
eventually given a written form. A myth could also be told through painting, sculpture, music,
dance, mime, opera, song etc. It is a comprehensive (but not exclusive) term for
primarily concerned with the gods and humankind’s relations with them
Myths may have
some historical reality; they are not always entirely false.
Myth (proper): Gods and their interactions with humans.
Folktales: tales of
, sometimes peopled with fantastic beings and
enlivened by ingenious strategies on the part of the
. Functions primarily to
Saga: Has a perceptible
relationship to history
; however fanciful and imaginative, it
has its roots in historical fact. More stories about men.
Myth interpreted by etiology
Myth is used as an
explanation of the origin of some fact or custom
. Myths usually
try to explain emotional, spiritual, and physical matters not only literally and realistically, but also
figuratively and metaphorically as well. Myths attempt to explain the origin of our world, the
source of beauty and goodness and of evil and sin, the nature and meaning of love, etc. The
problem with an etiological approach to myth is that it does nothing to identify a myth specifically
and distinguish it clearly from any other form of expression, whether scientific, religious, or
artistic-that is, too many essentially different kinds of story may be basically etiological.
Myth interpreted by allegory and symbolism
Myth can be seen as allegory (a sustained metaphor) where the details of the story are
symbols of universal truth
. Some myths are nature myths and certain gods represent or
control the sky (Zeus), but many myths have no relationship to nature.