Copy of final - Davis 1 Margaret Davis Professor Brian Owensby HILA 3559 The Great Encounter 07 May 2019 Mythology and Conquest Mythology is embedded in

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Davis 1 Margaret Davis Professor Brian Owensby HILA 3559: The Great Encounter 07 May 2019 Mythology and Conquest Mythology is embedded in every culture. It is an integral part of how the world is seen and understood. Mythology is also embedded in history. Understandings of history are constructed by mythology. However, is mythology a part of history or are myths themselves how we understand history? This essay will seek to answer whether history is inextricable from the myths which constitute it. To do so, a definition of myths will be provided and followed by a discussion of the various goals of mythology, both more generally and within the context of conquest. Next, exemplary mythologies surrounding the conquest of Mexico will be examined in order to understand their purposes and relation to history. This essay aims to show that mythologies are both a lens for understanding relationships and the wider world as well as the foundation for historical understanding. It will claim that supposedly objective history is inextricable from the mythologies through which it has been understood. Merriam-Webster claims that the word myth is borrowed from the Greek word mythos meaning “utterance, speech, discourse, tale, narrative, fiction, legend.” The word myth, on one hand, connotes a false notion or widely held false belief with supernatural, exaggerated, or idealized elements, but the word’s origin connects it to all discourse and narrative. Myths are most commonly understood as a traditional story that has grown up around something or someone. They represent the world view of a people or explain a practice or belief.
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Davis 2 Regardless of how one defines or understands the concept of mythology, all definitions of the word myth have some element of indeterminacy or lack of verifiability and collectivity or commonality. Mythology is indeterminate by nature because of the fact that they are individually, collectively, and culturally created. Indeterminacy is intrinsic because myths are perpetuated by people with underlying motives for preserving them. Mythology is also, by nature, commonly held or collective because if they were not collective they would just be the belief of a single person. Mythology is dependent on its being commonly held and upheld. With the indeterminacy and commonality of myths in mind, one can better examine and understand the basis for and goals of mythology. One very basic purpose of mythology is to provide a conceptual framework. Myths provide a way to understand the self in relation to others and the wider world. In their most general sense, myths provide a way to make sense of surroundings, history, and ourselves. They also serve to create a shared understanding of these things. Mythology unifies or defines a group’s identity by facilitating common explanations and backgrounds against which the world can be set and interpreted. By being shared, myths reveal what is important to those who share them and their values. As a
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  • Spring '19
  • Owensby

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