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Foundations of mythology short answers 4 essay

Academic experts on myth debate heatedly about what a myth is and how it functions in human life. In fact, with so many conflicting meanings and so much debate, some scholars have declared the word meaningless and abandoned it altogether. But I have decided to write about myth because no other single word captures this absolutely essential aspect of our society, or any society.

As I understand the term and use it here, a myth has several basic qualities. First, it is a a story, told either explicitly or implicitly. Second, when a myth works or is alive — that is, when some group of people accept it as valid and meaningful — it provokes a powerful response from those people because it relies on vivid, evocative symbols to tell the tale.

When words or images function as symbols they affect us both intellectually and emotionally, both consciously and unconsciously. They foundations of mythology short answers 4 essay several different, often divergent, sometimes even contradictory, meanings simultaneously.

When many symbols are woven together in a myth they evoke even stronger response. Third, a living myth expresses something fundamental about the worldview, values, and lifestyle of the people who accept it. A myth communicates what they assume to be true about: And because the world is the way it is, living as we do or ought to is uniquely satisfying and fulfilling. Fourth, a living myth gives the people who accept it a way to cope with the difficulties of life.

It gives an impression of human life and the world as relatively coherent, harmonious, sensible, and therefore meaningful, so that life seems worth living. Sometimes a myth denies that there is any conflict or contradiction in the world. Sometimes it accepts but explains conflicts, contradictions, and the suffering they cause. Sometimes it offers no explanation at all but gives a powerful sense that life is good and worthwhile despite the conflicts, the contradictions, and the suffering.

The satisfaction comes in part from the conviction that, while life and the world are always changing, the myth is a story that seems never to change. It is always available to be retold, reenacted, relived. So the disturbing flux of the real is held in check by the bulwark of permanence — a sort of timeless present — enshrined in the myth.

  1. It tells them how to interpret their experiences.
  2. Fourth, a living myth gives the people who accept it a way to cope with the difficulties of life.
  3. But this was not simply because enough facts piled up to make the myth untenable.
  4. Hephaestus's wife, Aphrodite, whose Roman name was Venus, was the goddess of love and beauty.

Some myths are total fictions. Though they can have powerful influence on a society, they can also be debunked by fact, which places some limit at least in theory on their influence.

The myths that affect us most, in theory and usually in fact, are those that blend empirical truth with fiction. The more truth they contain, the more convincing they are, the harder they are to refute, and therefore the more influence they have. However empirical truth or falsehood is not the most crucial question when it comes to myth.

As the definition above indicates, a myth communicates some very real truths to the people who accept it as a living myth. This is the sense in which most historians of religion have come to use the term. They say that myth has its own truth, a different kind of truth than science offers. The people who tell a myth do not judge it by whether it can be proven factually true, either. Rather, the myth is a sort of lens through which they see the world. It tells them what they can accept as factually true and what they must consider false.

It tells them what to pay attention to and what to ignore. It tells them how to interpret their experiences. In all these way, myth shapes their view of truth. To modern interpreters, myth is symbolic, not literal, truth. Rather, we judge it the way we judge a poem or a painting, by its power to move us emotionally; foundations of mythology short answers 4 essay challenge or reassure us intellectually; to shape, reshape, or reaffirm the way we experience the world.

  • And because the world is the way it is, living as we do or ought to is uniquely satisfying and fulfilling;
  • Simply ignore the anomalous events altogether;
  • Eventually they recanted and apologized.

But what about the relation between myth and empirical or scientific fact? Most often a myth is compounded of both fiction and empirically verifiable fact. Zeus, for example, does not really throw lightning bolts down from Mt. Olympus, but powerful thunderstorms do regularly form on that particular mountaintop, generating plenty of very real lightning that strikes the earth.

Myths may generally have more fiction than fact, but sometimes the fact outweighs the fiction. There are even perhaps rare occasions when myths are completely factually true. American myths have been and still are nearly all influenced by the rationalist culture of the Enlightenment. So they usually have a larger component of truth than the myths of ancient cultures. Our national myths draw on empirical facts from all aspects of public life — political, economic, cultural, moral, and more — and create a complex interplay among them, creating a sense of the nation and its life as a unified, harmonious whole.

To achieve the most satisfying sense of wholeness, though, a myth must reshape the elements of empirical truth contained in it. It exaggerates empirical truths that fit an idealized image while downplaying or ignoring those that might contradict the received ideal.

It exaggerates truths that are most likely to evoke emotional response while downplaying or ignoring less evocative truths. It turns literal truths into vehicles for symbolic meaning. Thus it creates a caricature of truth, a picture that is oversimplified, schematized, and therefore easier to grasp and respond to. Consider, for example, two classic American myths: Both foundations of mythology short answers 4 essay, as told in elementary schools and known by most Americans, include elements of both fact and fiction.

Ultimately, though, when a myth is working its factual truth is irrelevant, because the people for whom a myth is alive do not judge it by whether it can be proven factually true. Rather, the myth is the lens through which they see the world and judge what is true and false. So it shapes their view of truth. Consider again the Pilgrims and Parks. Both are emotionally powerful stories, made up of symbolic details that are readily and vividly visualized, and both communicate similar messages: People from all over the world come to America because here victims of injustice can and should stand up for their rights.

What happens if people suffering from injustice in other lands come to Foundations of mythology short answers 4 essay, stand up for their rights, find themselves receiving no justice, and return to their native lands, perhaps even finding relatively more justice there?

Or, if America is their native land, what happens if they give up the fight and accept a life of injustice?

  1. You can follow this guideline.
  2. Sometimes it accepts but explains conflicts, contradictions, and the suffering they cause. Consider, for example, two classic American myths.
  3. In cases religion and myth always help us cope with change, suffering, with loss and deaths no matter what we will all deal with these things in our own personal ways, no one will ever grieve with lose the same as another person.
  4. As I have listened to the voices of Americans across the political and educational spectrum, I have heard them draw very heavily on the common stock of mythic building blocks, sometimes in what sounds like rote repetition.

For a majority of Americans, who hold the Pilgrims and Rosa Parks stories as living myths, there are two possibilities: Explain the anomalous events in terms of the myth: Simply ignore the anomalous events altogether. It is hard for most of us even to name people who actively tried to get more justice in the United States but failed in the long run. Something similar happened in 2003, when the prevailing myth insisted that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, was building up a threatening arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

All the factual evidence to the contrary was largely ignored by the mass media because the myth did not allow that evidence to count as true fact. Even the most respected mass media sources refused to admit facts contrary to the myth. Eventually they recanted and apologized.

But this was not simply because enough facts piled up to make the myth untenable. Myths can stay alive in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

  • Or, if America is their native land, what happens if they give up the fight and accept a life of injustice?
  • Within each elite group there are sometimes fierce debates about policy;
  • She is the guardian of marriage and was well-loved by the Greeks; it's kind of sad that she's the goddess of marriage but her own marriage was so bad;
  • Sometimes it accepts but explains conflicts, contradictions, and the suffering they cause;
  • If we are certain that we want to get rid of sexism, we do not need a mythical time of women's past greatness to get on with the effort toward ending it" 188;
  • Many other myth scholars also discuss this aspect of myths.

Classic myths do almost always have a narrative form. These are what scholars call explicit myths. But one need not recite the whole myth to communicate its full meaning and power, because every myth is made up of many discrete elements or component pieces.

These building blocks are usually words or visual images or a combination of the two.

Foundations of Mythology Short Answers Essay

But any sensory stimulus can play this role. All of these can serve foundations of mythology short answers 4 essay symbols, which are combined into themes, memes, and motifs. These are the building blocks of myth. For those who know a myth, any component piece of it can easily communicate the cognitive and emotional meaning of the whole.

In such cases, when an entire myth is implied by one small piece of it, scholars call it an implicit myth. The same process can work with more abstract mythic stories too. In fact, every one of the specific components of each American myth is ultimately connected to all the other building blocks of all other American myths in a network of implied connections that is virtually endless.

A group of interlocking myths can conveniently be called a mythology. Words like progress, exceptionalism, abundance, and millennialism, for example, each conjure up an entire complex mythology.

This web in its totality forms a reservoir of national myths that myth-makers and myth-tellers can draw on in mix-and-match fashion. Typically the full stories remain only implied, in such a deep or unconscious way that few of us could reconstruct them in their complete narrative form. Nevertheless, even a few mythic building blocks put together in almost any way can reinforce the power of the national myths to shape our perceptions and understandings of the meaning of America, our place in it, and its place in the world.

Foundations of mythology short answers 2 essay

Each myth helps to create a sense of national identity, defining what it means to be an American. Each expresses something essential about the identity of the nation and its members, as many of them see it.

When Americans share in the repetition of their myths, they create or reaffirm their connection with each other and their difference from other people who have other myths.

Myth is like a social cement used to bond a group together and to build a wall between them and other groups — which is one reason national myths evoke such powerful emotion and satisfaction, Again, to be sure, not all Americans embrace every American myth, nor do all find the same meanings and values in any particular myth.

On the contrary, there is always vigorous discussion and disagreement about those meanings and values. Different interpretations are inevitable, because myths and their component parts communicate symbolic meanings.

So they tend to be multivalent; that is, any given myth, or any specific element within a myth, is likely to express different and often conflicting meanings simultaneously. The richer, more potent, and more fundamental the myth, the more multivalent it is likely to be.

An Introduction to Greek Mythology

Could anyone ever catalogue all the interpretations that have been assigned to those few words, much less predict all the interpretations that will arise in the future?

The full network of American myths, taken as a whole, is like a playing field on which conflicts over public issues and public meanings are constantly fought out. The component elements of the myths are also the materials with which the conflict is fought or, one might say, the pieces with which the game is played. Since the meanings of myths are always being contested, they are always open to change. Now, of course, it is a hotly contested assertion.