Mythology

The term "mythology" can refer either to the study of myths (e.g., comparative mythology), or to a body or collection of myths (a mythos, e.g., Inca mythology).[1] In folkloristics, a myth is a sacred narrative usually explaining how the world or humankind came to be in its present form,[2] although, in a very broad sense, the word can refer to any traditional story.[3] Bruce Lincoln defines myth as "ideology in narrative form".[4] Myths typically involve supernatural characters and are endorsed by rulers or priests. They may arise as overelaborated accounts of historical events, as allegory for or personification of natural phenomena, or as an explanation of ritual. They are transmitted to convey religious or idealized experience, to establish behavioral models, and to teach. Early rival classifications of Greek mythos by Euhemerus, Plato's Phaedrus, and Sallustius were developed by the neoplatonists and revived by Renaissance mythographers as in the Theologia mythologica (1532). Nineteenth-century comparative mythology reinterpreted myth as evolution toward science (E. B. Tylor), "disease of language" (Max Muller), or misinterpretation of magical ritual (James Frazer). Later interpretations rejected opposition

etween myth and science, such as Jungian archetypes, Joseph Campbell's "metaphor of spiritual potentiality", or Levi-Strauss's fixed mental architecture. Tension between Campbell's comparative search for monomyth or Ur-myth and anthropological mythologists' skepticism of universal origin has marked the 20th century. Further, modern mythopoeia such as fantasy novels, manga, and urban legend, with many competing artificial mythoi acknowledged as fiction, supports the idea of myth as ongoing social practice. Nature of myths Typical characteristics The main characters in myths are usually gods, supernatural heroes and humans.[5][6][7] As sacred stories, myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests and closely linked to religion or spirituality.[5] In the society in which it is told, a myth is usually regarded as a true account of the remote past.[5][6][8][9] In fact, many societies have two categories of traditional narrative, "true stories" or myths, and "false stories" or fables.[10] Creation myths generally take place in a primordial age, when the world had not yet achieved its current form,[5] and explain how the world gained its current form[2][11] and how customs, institutions and taboos were established.