Topics: Mythology, Religion, Joseph Campbell Pages: 5 (1584 words) Published: March 2, 2015
Write a 700- to 1,050-word paper in which you answer the following questions: How is the word myth used popularly? For example, what does the statement, "It's a myth" mean? In contrast, how is the word myth used in the academic context? After considering the definition in your textbooks and course materials, write a definition in your own words. What Are Myths? Myths are ancient narratives that attempt to answer the enduring and fundamental human questions: How did the universe and the world come to be? How did we come to be here? Who are we? What are our proper, necessary, or inescapable roles as we relate to one another and to the world at large? What should our values be? How should we behave? How should we not behave? What are the consequences of behaving and not behaving in such ways? myths are ancient narratives. But they are not static artifacts. They are not potsherds and weathered bone fragments. In many cases, they are living texts with which living people continue to write or narrate or perform their unique answers to basic human questions. This never-ending quality to myth is one reason we have included in this book not only ancient or “primary” versions of myths but also more contemporary tales, such as “Out of the Blue” by Paula Gunn Allen (see pages 68–75), which take up ancient myths and refashion their constituent elements in order to update answers to perennial questions and participate in ongoing cultural self-definitions. The English word “myth” derives from the Greek word mythos and has been distinguished from the Greek word logos, both terms having been translated into English as word or story. (para 7)

What are the most common mythological themes across different cultures? Why do myths from different cultures around the world address such similar or universal themes? Think about how myths explain the unknown and the tribulations of mankind. People have long wondered how the world came into being. They have answered the question with stories that describe the origin of the universe or the world and usually of human life as well. Myths express people's understanding of the world and their place in it. The world's mythologies and religions offer an immense variety of stories. Yet scholars have discovered that the different cultures fall into broad categories and contain many shared themes. It just goes to show the similarity of the human mind and spirit. Whether strictly science or religiously based, research and studies have shown that an individual, regardless of his or her gender, orientation, skin color, or national background will have the same mindsets given the same experiences and surroundings. Mythology serves many purposes. Myths grant continuity and stability to a culture. They foster a shared set of perspectives, values, history -- and literature, in the stories themselves. Through these communal tales, we are connected to one another, to our ancestors, to the natural world surrounding us, and to society; and, in the myths which have universal (i.e., archetypal) themes, we are connected to othercultures. Myths present guidelines for living. When myths tell about the activities and attitudes of deities, the moral tone implies society's expectations for our own behaviors and standards. In myths, we see archetypal situations and some of the options which can be selected in those situations; we also perceive the rewards and other consequences which resulted from those selections. Myths justify a culture's activities. Through their authoritativeness and the respected characters within them, myths establish a culture's customs, rituals, religious tenets, laws, social structures, power hierarchies, territorial claims, arts and crafts, holidays and other recurring events, and technical tips for hunting, warfare, and other endeavors. Myths give meaning to life. We transcend our common life into a world in which deities interact with humans, and we can believe that our daily actions are part of...
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