Myths try to explain or embody an event of the historical occurrence of humanity, that is, it is a way of capturing the illustration of the human being. Depending on their geographical location, in some cases, they become part of their culture or customs, this makes the subjects of different communities feel more united.
The word myth comes from the Greek term (mhitos), which has the meaning of the word story, that is why myths are considered narratives, since they leave traces in their various cultures, as they pass from generation to generation.
Myths serve to keep alive the history that is preserved in various cultures . This gives life to the existing populations, since despite time, their customs, teachings, language and religious beliefs among other things have prevailed.
What is the function of myths?
Myths are stories that aim to convey a moral teaching. And although they are considered fictitious stories, myths tell the story of the origins of man and the universe and all the primordial events in which man became what he is today.
The myth is sacred in nature, since it refers to non-scientific realities, involving beings in exceptional events. The history that it transmits in archaic societies must be known and repeated by the force of rites, to review what happened in the time of the origins.
Although myths have many different meanings, they can play very varied roles in different contexts, one can speak of a myth for the birth of a society, a myth for a nation, a culture or a myth related to humanity or to the birth of the world and its creators, or embody a certain type of human behavior in a specific figure.
What is the importance of myths?
It has been said that the human mind has never produced anything bolder and more fascinating than myths, as they explore the entire field of the supernatural and display a variety and richness of meaning that amazes all who have studied them. They also have an exceptional and original report over time.
The importance of myths lies in the fact that man before civilization, sought from the beginning to create a past to explain the origin of man and the world, imagining myths. The stories of the past cannot have the same rigor, nor the same precision, as the histories of our “civilized” populations. But the important thing is that myth has been around since the beginning of time, and it is made up of lies that turn out to be true.
What are the characteristics of a myth?
Among the characteristics of the myths we can mention:
- They have a wide degree of generalization of images and symbols, which reflects the level of collective consciousness of the characters.
- Characters in myths are unchangeable because they are gods, demigods, creatures, monsters, and fantastic beings. Its truth is anthropological and its function is to perform feats. They are often characterized by the physical or moral traits that drive the story.
- They go back to millenary times, encompassing universal themes that are believed to have been created by human creativity, that is, they belong to man.
- The narrators and listeners of the myth perceive a fantastic exaggeration in the mythological narrative as an objective reality.
- Myths are told as truths, so it is difficult to verify their authenticity by the absence of witnesses.
What are the types of myths?
Among types of myths we can highlight the following:
- Anthropological myths. It refers to the evolution of the human being. They reveal what is related to genesis, through omnipotence.
- Theogonic myths. It has as its origin the story of the gods. They try to expose the divinity of these ancient characters.
- Cosmogonic myths. They explain the origin of the creation of the world. They have different beliefs about how it was formed. The history of the earth is very extensive, so much so that some believe that we are here thanks to the Big Bang, while others prefer to believe that we are here because of the deities.
- Etiological myths. They try to explain the principle of existence and things, how other living beings and everything related to the planet were created.
- Moral myths. They are based on establishing the difference between good and evil.
- Foundational myths. They are based on revealing the origin of royal dynasties, as well as cities and civilizations.
Example of myths
Myths are characterized by being universal, since they exist in all cultures worldwide and come from remote times. Through the generations they have been transmitted and have prevailed in time, it is for them that the myths seek to give an explanation. Among some examples of myths we have:
- Those created by the human mind. Myths are the product of thoughts and beliefs of the human mind, it is through the imagination that these stories arise that often become inexplicable and fascinating phenomena.
- Myths for customs. They are ingrained practices that have passed from the oral to the written, and from the written to societies, establishing them as traditions in different populations around the world.
- Myths for real events. There are many myths based on realities, but with the passage of time they have been removing and putting things at the convenience of the human being, perhaps to create a greater impact on societies or for the benefit of man.
- Myths of fiction. Although there are many myths with real stories, there is never a lack of the fantastic touch that exists in the human mind, which has been added to thousands of stories by incredible adventures full from extraordinary landscapes to magnificent characters.
- Myths by codes. It must be borne in mind that symbols are one of the most representative characteristics of myths, since they give that magic and particular touch to each character present in these stories. Such is the case of the Pegasus, or the ray of Zeus, to give an example, this makes each figure of these fables unique.
Structure of myths
Myths are narratives that have a precise structure. They are often confused with fables, tales and even legends. However, the characteristics of the myth are unique, which allows this type of story to be easy to identify. You just have to take into account the following points:
- Theme of the myth. Myths always try to answer questions about the existence of man. For this reason, each civilization established a series of mythologies that offered the answers that science could not explain.
- Content of the myth. An outstanding quality in the myths is that there is always a confrontation between two opposing sides that are an important part of the culture. For this reason, it is common to see in myths the confrontation between good and evil, chaos against creation, gods who challenge titans or super humans and life against death, and many other similar situations that present opposing confrontations.
- Definition of the message. To complete the structure of the myths, they must offer the answers to specific questions, such as: Do the gods defeat giant creatures in myths? Does the monster transform into a mountain and is this what urinated the mountain such? Or could it be? A very bad creature as eternal punishment was condemned to tow the sun across the sky and that is why the sun moves throughout the day until it hides on the horizon? The myth aims at the triumph of one side over the other, and this means the explanation of some event, place or objective of what can happen in daily life.
Difference between myth and mythology
The difference between myths and mythology is based on the fact that:
- Myths originate in stories, and are loaded with knowledge, words, symbols, various languages and emit a message that refers to the existence of all things.
- Mythology is understood as the science of myths, that is, it is the set of myths that a society has, among them you can find cults, emblems and all the elements that make up a myth.
Conclusion about the myths.
As we have already seen, myths are part of the history that we know today on planet earth, in short, they refer to everything that coexists in the world and tries to understand the work of human beings, which has shaped these unique and traditional facts or stories, full of fabulous characters with incredible and fascinating powers, such as those supposedly had by gods, titans, demigods among others.
These stories full of mysticism are closely related to religions and certain beliefs. Myths become more than stories, they are an ancestral heritage that our ancestors left us and we carry it today in rites, in our devotions, in our culture and in the history of our literature.