Mythology is a term derived from Greek and can be broken into two terms, “mythos” which means narrative and logos which relates to speech or in other terms; argument. Mythology can then be defined as the act of studying myths, which are stories that are held to be true by a given culture, and the use of supernatural to interpret the normal events and explain nature of universe and even humanity. Mythology can thus be said to mean gathering of myths that a given society used, for example we can talk of “Greek Mythology”. In this approach it means a form of myths which have been used by given society at some given time of human history. Still mythologies can be grouped in other categories. For example classifying some geographically (Stein, p. 89).
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Historic events simply refer to major events that have occurred in the years back. Due to poor form of documentation it was very hard to keep proper records of the procedures that led to their occurrence. It is in this sense that mythology came in place to try and shed light on what led to the historic events. Mythology can be used in artwork to represent actual historic events in the world.
In essence myths and even mythologies intend to rationalize and give explanation of the world and all it contains. One can say that they play more less the role of science, religion, theology and history in current societies. Myths have given a better historical framework to the societies that never had a sophisticated knowledge given by the current science and even past investigations.
Through the following discussions it can be shown clearly how mythology can be used to show actual historic events. Some of the historic events that we are going to consider include: creation myths, diver myths and Egyptian myths.
Creation myths help in expounding in details how the world was formed and also its complexities. Most of these myths start with birth as the main theme. For example in creation myth of the Japanese, it is believed that initially all things were mixed together within one germ that had life.
The germ mixed things resulting in heavier part sinking and lighter one rising. This led to the creation of muddy sea that covered the entire earth. Then there grew a green shoot which went up to the clouds and then formed a god which after growing lonely created more gods.
Of the god created there was Izanami and the other Izanagi which were last the gods to be created. One day as Izanagi was walking, he threw his staff on the ocean and upon retrieving it, the Japan Island was formed. The two gods then settled there on the island and caused crops to grow. Later they were joined together and had two children a girl whom they found very radiant and pretty and decided to take her to the sky and she was the sun. The other became what is now the moon.
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Their third child was an unruly son who was thrown into the sea in which he causes storms. Later, they had another child Amaterasu that had a son who later became Japan’s emperor. All Japan’s emperors have since then traced their origin from him
Another myth is that regarding Iroquois of Northern America. It tries to explain why the Iroquois people do respect animals so much. It talks of a sky woman who after a harmonious living in an island in the sky became pregnant against the husband’s wishes. The husband out of rage threw the out of the island. The woman came falling into sea that was under the sky (Daniel, p. 54).
The animals that lived on the earth gave her a timely rescue. They had to dive under the sea to get mud that they piled onto a big turtle. The mud grew into size like that of North America. The Sky Woman then stepped onto the land that had formed from the mad. She then went ahead to create not only the stars, but even the sun and later the moon.
She then bore twin sons, Sapling who created good things and Flint who always tried to deform what his brother had made. War eventually arose between them and Flint was overpowered. Since he was a god he could not be destroyed so he was compelled to stay on the huge turtle’s back. Once in a while he expresses his anger in form of a volcano. Iroquois people of Northern America have ever since respected animals due to the crucial role they played.
The other example is the Egyptian myth that talks of Osiris, the wise king who brought civilization to Egypt and his unscrupulous brother Seth. Osiris was tricked by his brother to enter into built chest in which Seth shut him in it before throwing it into the sea. Isis, the wife Osiris later retrieved the body.
But since Seth was determined he traced the chest and chopped the body into fourteen parts. Undeterred by the actions, Isis searched for the parts and upon finding them she gathered the pieces together so that she could keep Osiris’s body intact. This would help Osiris in getting his way to the underworld.
After Isis was done with the task, she together with the help of gods Anubis and Thoth embalmed the whole body of Osiris and mummified it. They created the first form of a funeral rite. Isis then changed into a fowl and gave her husband gulp of air of life through flapping her wings. Though Osiris was born afresh, he had to claim another throne to become ruler over the dead (Nietzche, p. 91).
The changes of weather were extreme in Egypt. One could not escape powers of natural world, life and even death. All this is clearly reflected in Egypt’s mythology. The most profound was the Egyptian’s cult relating to death. The Egyptians were ready for an afterlife that could relate to the present life that they lived. Osiris was king over the dead, god of both the death and also god of rebirth. He turned to govern a big area underworld.
Through the above examples we then can appreciate why the communities hold on the beliefs that they have. This is because of the logical explanations that the myths do give.
The ancient history of mythology can be summarized through stating that the first flowering of scientific rationalism in Greece till the revival of scientific rationalism, figurative mythology of one form or another was the only single way that was used for studying myths. As much as myths can be used in justifying actual historic events that have shaped the world they can not be very much be relied upon. This is because their validity can not be tested. We however do appreciate them in the sense that through them we can have a rough idea of our past.
- Daniel, Marcel. “The Creation of Mythology”. The international Journal of the inclusive museum 28.4 (2008): 43-65.
- Stein, Margaret. “The Myths Analyzed” Journal of Geophysical Research 6.8 (1998): 61- 93.
- Nietzche, Albert. “The Egyptian Myths” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social 1.67(2005): 91