Theories of Myth Paper

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Mythology, what is itThe dictionary defines mythology, as a set of stories, traditions, and beliefs associated with a particular group or the history of an event, arising naturally or deliberately fostered or a body of myths as that of a particular people or that relating to a particular person. The word “Myth” itself is of the Greek origin from the Greek word mythos, “speech, word, fact, story, narrative”. Although these words are rather restrictive in definition, the word myth can be said to fail to take into account the large body of twentieth century work on myth from many angles. Myth, is also described or defined to be the compilation of some type of field work; and the aim may be to produce something of value for religious studies. A myth theory can also be defined as raw material for transformation into artistic productions. In some way shape or form, every culture or ethnic group is an original author of theoretical myths. For example, there has been scientific evidence that at one point there were parts of the earth that were covered in water and are now dry. Other myths tell of an island, floating in the sky where sky people lived long before the world was created.

A theoretical approach call the New Criticism/Formalism is said to be used when there is out of date text with no author or historical background. It is misleading to read Greek or Latin text that is translated into another language word for word. There is no way to trace the changes in myth over time because the text will not be chronological. Late authors especially the Romans liked Traditional Biographical Criticism when they created life-records. Traditional Biographical Criticism also works well for writings of political people who interpreted political stories in myth over time. Many of these myths go unnamed and it becomes hard to analyze the author’s life in such cases.

Folklore Studies and Anthropology explores unidentified works since in Folklore there are no individual creators of tales necessary. Folklore studies and Anthropology work well when it comes to comparative literature approaches. It is not limited to one version or text of a myth. It works well when it comes to Greek and Roman magic or superstitions. These studies are not good when it comes to complex symbolism. However, it does show similarities between myths and legends.

Earth Diver-Myths speaks of scientific evidence where the Earth has parts that are now dry and once were covered with water. The myth says that a person dove into the water to retrieve some Earth. The Earth that was brought to the surface is the same land we live on today. There are other myths that say it was mud that was brought to the surface in a different way until it became the Earth. The creation myth of Christians and Jews tells of the Earth once being covered completely by water. The Japanese creation myth tells of muddy oceans covering the world at the beginning of time. A GOD named Izanagi and GODDESS named Izanami were curious about what was under the Ocean. Izanagi threw his staff into the ocean and pulled out some Earth which became the island of Japan. Iroquois creation myth states that the island floating in the sky before the world was created had sky people who never died nor was born. They never experienced sadness except for one day when a sky woman who discovered that she was going to give birth to twins. She told her husband and this news made him very upset because they had never experienced this before and it did not seem possible. He was so angry that he went to the center of the island where there was a big tree that gave off light over the entire island. The husband was so angry and in disbelief that he tore down this tree tearing a big hole in the center of the island. He then pushed his wife through the hole and she fell towards the water below. There were water animals that existed on the Earth and saw the lady falling towards the water. The water animals saved the lady and began to help her by diving to the bottom of water to get mud to build land. The animals then took the mud and spread it on the back of a big turtle. They continued and continued as it grew and grew becoming the size of North America.

The idea of a personal approach to mythology happened in 1926 says Stanley Krippner.However, you can make a strong case that the first proposed mythological foundation for an individual human experience was published a decade earlier. C.G. Jung published, Symbols of Transformation, in 1912. This was his vision of a mythological basis to the operation of human psyche. Jung wrote in his memoir, Memories, Dreams, and Reflections which was his theme of the mythic nature of personal experience near the end of his life in 1961. He was telling his own personal myth, telling one’s story in mythic terms. Jung declared, whether the story is true or not is not the problem. The only question is whether what I tell is truth or fable.


  1. Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative Study in Science & Religion. New York: Harper & Row, 1976. Barbour, Ian G.
  2. Theoretical Approach Strengths and Weaknesses for Analysis of Myths – /KWHEELER/documents/Theory_Myth.pdf
  3. Living Myth: Personal Meaning as a Way of Life. Boston: Shambala, 1993. Bond, D. Stephenson.
  4. Creation Myths –

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