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MYTHOLOGY. The Myth is Born. Ethnocentrism:. Believing that one’s own ethnic/cultural group is the most important, and measuring others based on differences in language, behavior, customs, and religion.

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The Myth is Born


  • Believing that one’s own ethnic/cultural group is the most important, and measuring others based on differences in language, behavior, customs, and religion.

  • As we grow up, we absorb certain values & behaviors based on cultural patterns of thought which have been deemed “normal” by our societies.

  • These sometimes negative thoughts & stereotypes can be hard to break but are an important part of becoming an understanding & accepting citizen in today’s ever-changing world.


  • Why is knowing the definition of ETHNOCENTRISM important?

  • What does it have to do with mythology?

Monotheism vs polytheism
Monotheism vs. Polytheism

Monotheism: “mono” means “one”; “the” is the Latin root for god; and “-ism” means “having the characteristics of”---SO monotheism is the doctrine or belief that there is only one God

Polytheism: “poly” means “multiple” (or more than one); “the” is the Latin root for god; and “-ism” means “having the characteristics of”---SO polytheism is the doctrine of or belief in more than one god, or many gods

What is a myth
What is a myth?

  • The Greek word “mythos” means “story”; “-ology” means “the study of.”

  • A myth is an imaginative, anonymous story (erroneously thought to be religious in nature)resulting from man’s attempt to:

    • understand the phenomena of nature

    • explain cultural customs & rituals

      (Myths are early ecology and science—ancient man trying to explain his world—as well as entertainment.)

Functions of myth
Functions of Myth

According to Joseph Campbell, noted scholar, ALL MYTHS:

  • they all attempt to explain creation, divinity, and religion (explain universal truths)

  • they probe the meaning of existence and death

  • they account for natural phenomena

  • they chronicle the adventures of cultural heroes (& define cultural values)

The oral tradition
The Oral Tradition

  • Stories (myths) that are passed down from one generation to the next are stories told in the oral tradition.

  • In places and times where people don’t use written language, oral tradition is one of only two ways of preserving knowledge from one generation to the next (the other is art).

  • FUN FACT: People from cultures with an oral tradition have better memories than those who write everything down.


  • People who don’t read or write can tell stories, and they can make art. Art is another way that myths can survive from generation to generation, even if they aren’t written down.

  • Art can survive long after the people who created it have gone. Art that helps preserve myths isn’t always sophisticated or fancy. Ordinary household items often feature decorations that can tell modern archaeologists a lot about a society.

10 major types of myth
10 Major Types of Myth

  • Afterlife: explanation of what happens to the soul after death

  • Cosmogony: describe the way the world, the heavens, the sea, & the underworld are put together & how the sun and moon travel around them

  • Creation: a story about where the world & its creatures come from

  • Dawn of Civilization: humans had to learn to live like people, not animals, & usually the gods helped them with this (stealing fire, etc.)

  • Deluge: many myths have a story about gods who were unhappy with their first version of humans so they destroyed the world with floods to get a clean start; oftentimes 1 man & 1 woman survive

  • End of the World: usually this goes along with flood stories; explains how the world will end

  • Foundation of Empires: helps to explain how empires came to be built; the inevitability of conquering & building a city in a certain place

  • Introduction of Disease & Death: myths often have a sort of paradise world until someone introduces unhappiness (Greek example: Pandora’s box)

  • Origin of Humanity: the origin of humans

  • Theogony: the origin & genealogical account of the gods

Character roles within myths
Character Roles within Myths

There is a fairly standard list of characters within myths:

  • Deities (gods and goddesses; usually one creator of all)

  • Antigods(devils, demons, dragons, monsters, and giants)

  • Heroes (may be humans, gods, half-&-half {demi-gods}; usually males)

  • Tricksters (popular character role; subvert social order)

Greek writers
Greek Writers

Homer: Greek writer of the oldest Greek literature---from possibly 1,000 Before Christ

  • Wrote the Iliad (first written record of Greek myth) & the Odyssey

    Hesiod: 9th or 8th century B.C. Greek writer

  • Wrote Theogony—an account of the creation of the universe & the genealogy of the gods

    Homeric Hymns: dating from the 8th or 7th century B.C.

  • 33 poems to honor various gods

    Pindar: greatest lyric poet of Greece (end of 6th century B.C.)

  • Wrote odes in honor of victors in the Greek games—(Olympics)

  • Greek writers1
    Greek Writers

    • Aeschylus: oldest of the 3 Greek tragic poets (end of the 6th century B.C.)

    • Sophocles: Greek tragic poet

    • Euripides:5thcentury B.C. Greek tragic poet

    • Aristophanes: greatest Greek comedy writer (5th/4thcentury B.C.)

    • Herodotus: first historian of Europe (5th century B.C.)

    • Plato:4th century B.C. philosopher

    Why are so many myths similar among different cultures
    Why are so many myths similar among different cultures?

    One reason myths recur is that people have always moved around and talked with one another, even in the days before they started writing things down. People carried myths to one another just as they brought trade goods and disease.


    Gumpert Apollo



    Honda Odyssey

    Toyota Avalon