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Theories of myth

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 978 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Mythology involves sociological or even philosophical the studying of myths. Myths involve characters such as supernatural heroes or gods. Within sacred stories, the characters involved are priests and rulers. Myths have been used extensively in explanation of the world formation and establishment process of taboos, customs and institutions (Csapo, 2005). Scholars have been trying to explain myths in the past decades using theories.

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Claims by Euhemerism theory have demonstrated myths to be fuzzy accounts of authentic or real historical events. According to Csapo (2005), explanations show that storytellers carry out repeated elaborations upon historical measures. Such repetitions made the myth figures to gain the position of gods. For example, a wind-god development emanating from a kingly historical account, teaching his followers on wind-interpretation and use of sails. Prodicus and Herodotus made such claims in the 5th century BC. The origin of this theory’s name is from the 320 BC novelist called Euhemerus. This novelist made claims of the Greek gods evolving from legends humans.

Explanations of allegory theory suggest that myths started as allegories. For example, in relation to one theory myths started as natural phenomena allegories. For instance, historically representation of Apollo was fire while Poseidon represented water, among others. Another theory explains that myths started as allegories of spiritual or philosophical concepts. For example, Athena represented wise judgment, while Aphrodite represented desire. Sanskritist Max Muller in 19th century believed that myths originated from nature, but came to be literally interpreted gradually. For example, poetry described a sea to be raging and literally this was taken to interpret the sea as a “raging god”.

Personification theory as explained by some scholars, myths originated from personification of forces and objects which are inanimate. In their regard, these scholars observed people of ancient days worshipped natural phenomena such as air, fire. With time this described the natural phenomena as gods. For example, mythopoeic thought described ancients to observe things as persons but not as mere objects. Thereby, they described events of nature to be actions of natural gods, hence myths evolution. Cosmogonic or creation myths relates to supernatural stories giving explanations to humanity, life, earth or universe existence (Csapo, 2005). Generally, myths tend to broadly share the same themes. Myths commonly involve fractioning of worldly things from primordial chaos. Such aspects include father and mother separation gods or emergence of land from an infinite and from timeless ocean

Among the Finnish, people believed that the world was made from a broken egg. Descriptions reveal that a bird was flying over the sea as it searched for a place set-up her nest and lay eggs. The bird’s search was futile everywhere. The only thing in existence was water. After that, the bird identified the 1st dry place to some it was a boat, others it was an island, and others a floating body such as a wizard. However, the dry place was unstable to set-up a nest hence a large wave broke those eggs, their parts being spread all around. Upper part of the egg formed the sky, yolk formed the sun and lower egg parts formed the earth. The first human being was vainamoinem born to air maiden Ilmatar impregnated by the sea. Vainamoinem gave orders for trees plantation and initiated the human culture. This myth relates to the allegory theory which explains representations of natural phenomena (Csapo, 2005). Upper part of the egg in this myth represents the sky yolk represents the sun while the lower part represents the earth. The allegories here are the sun, the sky and the earth.

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On the other hand, among the Hindu, universe existence is governed by Trimurti of brahma. Brahma is the creator Vishnu is the sustainer while shiva is the destroyer. The first Avatar generated from water. Hindus believe universe creation originated from the word Aum. The word stands for the sacred sound uttered by every person during birth. Their belief states that creation cycle has no beginning, neither preservation nor destruction. A Brahma’s day takes 4.32billion years and the night too. Their belief is that nights and days follow in cycles. To them time is represented as Kala. This Hindu myth relates to the euhemerism theory where people try to explain the existence of natural phenomena (Csapo, 2005). The Hindus have applied the historic events, explaining each occurrence with natural phenomena. As this myth continues to be told repetitively, the myth figures have developed to take the positions of gods. In this reference, the Hindu’s god is Brahma emanating from Hindu’s accounts to historical events, explaining where the universe originated from.

In conclusion, as drawn the discussion, I believe that myths have been associated with several purposes. Myths are believed to shape or establish behavior models. Figures of myth are normally sacred hence positioning them playing the role models on humans. Similarly, myths uphold current social institutions and structures. Myths serve the purpose of justifying social customs in claims that sacred beings established them. Additionally, myths act as a good source of entertainment and also providing human beings with experiences which are religious in nature. Myths unraveling repetitions detaches people from modernity to mythical era presenting them nearer to the Devine. For example, a society can reenact healings done by gods in ancient days in order to heal an individual in the present.


  • Csapo, E. (2005). Theories of mythology. London, UK: Wiley-Blackwell Publishers.


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