Greek Mythology: Fact Or Fiction Essay

1330 words - 5 pages

Greek Mythology: Fact or Fiction

“Most myths can be divided into two groups: explanatory myths and creation
myths. Creation myths are those that try to explain the origin of the world, the creation of
human beings and the birth of gods and goddesses. Explanatory myths are those that try
to explain natural processes or events and also some deal with illness and death. Mythical
beings fall into several groups. Many gods and goddesses resemble human beings even
though they do have supernatural powers. These divinities are called anthropomorphic,
from the Greek word meaning, in shape of a man. Another group of mythical beings
include gods and goddesses who resemble animals. These characters are called
theriomorphic, again from the Greek word meaning in the shape of an animal. The last
group of mythical beings has no specific name. These beings were neither completely
human or animal. An example is the famous sphinx of Egypt, which has a human head
and a lion's body. Many myths deal with the relationship between mortals and divinities.
Some mythical mortals have a divine father and a mortal mother and are called heroes”
(Taylor).
Each one of these divinities had a place to live. Since humans characterized these
gods as all knowing and all seeing their homes were usually higher than mortals can
reach. (Hercules). Most things in mythology were symbolized, for instance the sun was
symbolized by, Helios god of the sun, driving a flaming chariot across the sky. People,
animals, and plants represented ideas or events. Asclepius, god of healing held a staff
with a serpent coiled around it and to day that staff is the insignia for the medical
profession. Then again there are quite a few things that have opposite meanings like
Gilgamesh looking for a herb that made anyone who ate it immortal and Adam and Eve
eating the forbidden fruit and loosing their immortal qualities.
One of the first theorists Friedrich Max Muller was a German born British
language scholar of the 1800’s. Muller suggested that all gods and mythical heroes were
representation of nature, especially the sun. Muller also believed hat all major gods
represented the sun at one it’s many phases. Today’s scholars don not take Muller’s main
theories seriously. But Muller and his followers did seriously influence later theories
about the origin of myths (Littleton986).
Next was Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, who was an English anthropologist of the
1800’s that believed that myths began through peoples efforts account for unexplainable
occurrences in dreams. According to Tylor, the first idea about the supernatural was the
belief that the soul was able to wander freely and have many adventures. Soon thereafter
people believed everything in nature had a soul, and this belief helped them to explain
natural occurrences like volcanic eruptions. It was Tylor that states that Animism, the
idea that everything in nature has a soul, was the first step in the...

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