May 23, 2010
Theories of Myth
So many possible interpretations of a particular myth or the word myth in general exist that it is difficult to differentiate between them all. The word myth not only refers to legends, stories and folktales, but anthropologists and sociologists refer to myth as anything that encompasses the qualities of a respective culture and combines truths and beliefs about human experiences (Sienkewicz, 1996). These simple definitions are only the beginning of how scholars have theorized myths. Studying myths present different cultures, traditions, and belief systems and provide a new way of understanding ourselves and others.
Plato (427-347 BCE) termed the word myth as a falsehood, though when he applied his philosophical views concerning its origin, he re-established the ancient meaning as a form of the truth. Plato created a new definition meant to restore the validity of myth’s claim to truth. Plato argued that myths concerning gods, heroes, and centaurs are irrational and therefore false elements and that philosophical myths about origins were rational and therefore true (McClure, Scott 2004). This defined Plato’s philosophical and political vision. Plato also argued that poets weave an inventive story for their audience to coherence them into believing their reality rather than seek truthful answers. Plato wanted poets to be subject to philosopher kings who would have the power to edit the irrational and immoral components of myth (McClure, Scott 2004).
Another skeptic of myths reality was Euhemeros of Messene (330-260 BCE). Euhemeros supposed that his ancestors were naïve and devoid of the knowledge of scientific method, principles of philosophy, and the class of the modern world he lived in. Euhemeros believed his ancestors trusted superstitions and magnified historical events creating imaginative stories to explain history, simply because they... [continues]
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