Mermaid Myths, Asia and Europe

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Introduction

This research essay is about myths and legends with the focus on mermaids. We chose to do the essay about myths and legends since we were already interested in the topic, even before we knew that we could write an essay about it. We saw this as an opportunity to learn more about the topic we wanted to know more of. We decided rather quick to take this topic but we both knew that the topic would be too broad so we decided to specify the topic. Eventually we decided to focus on the Asian and European cultures. But then we felt that this wasn’t quite right so we came up with a second topic: mermaids. We decided that the main question would be: “What is the difference between Asian and European mythology with the focus on mermaids?”

In this essay we hope to answer the main question as good as we can. With help of the sub-questions we wrote the conclusion and we hope that the essay turns out right and is enjoyable to read.

What is mythology?

The word mythology
The word mythology originally means the telling of stories in Greek. The term mythology can mean two things. The first one refers to the study of myths and the second meaning is that mythology is a body of myths. The first definition includes comparative mythology, which is the study of connections between myths from different cultures. Greek mythology is part of the second definition whereas this is a part of the body from ancient Greece. The word myth itself is used in a different way. In the study of folklore which is a study of legends, music, oral history, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales proverbs and customs that are the traditions of a certain culture, subculture or group the word myth means a sacred narrative about how humans came into existence and how they came to their present form. A broader definition of the word myth is that it is a story that takes place in an imagined, remote, timeless past in which it tells the origin of humans but also animals and the supernatural. But how the word myth is used differs over people and scholars, but in the broad context of the word it means a traditional story. &

Different geological regions
Myths are widespread around the world, they can be very different over some places, so that’s why the mythology area is divided in six geographical regions. There is the Africa area which is the entire African continent. Second is the Americas which is the whole American continent. Asia which is just the Asian area. Then there is Europe which consists of the European countries including the Norse, Celtic and Classical mythology. The fifth is the Middle East which mainly consists of the shores of the Mediterranean sea. The last is Oceania which is a collective name of almost all the islands of the Pacific Ocean.

Characteristics
Typical characteristics in myths are that the main characters are humans, gods and supernatural heroes. Myths are divided in two categories in several societies, the first is that the myth is “a true story” the second is “a false story”. But a myth is mostly seen as a true account which happened in the remote past. Myths often take place in the time when the world was not yet in its current form. These myths often explain how the world became as it is now and with this how the costumes, institutions and taboos of several cultures where established. Myths as sacred stories often have priests and rulers in them which are closely related to religion or spirituality.

Theories about the origin of myths
There are four main theories about how myths came into existence. The first theory is Euhemerism, named after the mythologist Euhemerus who lived in Ancient Greece in the 4th century before Christ. He stated that myths are distorted accounts of historic events that really happened. The theory claims that the story of the event was told over and over so that they became distorted so the figures in these stories were given the status of gods. Eventually the...
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