Short Notes on Mythology

Mythology is the study or collection of those stories, narratives, or myths about people that explain their origin, history, religious practices, culture, tradition, or their ancestors. It consists of the narratives about gods, demigods, legendary warriors, as well as the common people which can be in anthropomorphic, theriomorphic, or in elemental form. It attempts to tell us about the time before we existed, and how things around us were created.

Mythology is often associated with sacred texts consisting of stories and narratives, which were considered the ultimate truth, thus becoming part of people’s religion, culture, and tradition. So, the origin and history of different groups of people can be known from their respective mythologies and are named accordingly, for instance, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, Tibetan mythology, etc. The term mythology is derived from two Greek words; mythos, meaning ‘story of the people’, and logos, which means speech. Hence, mythology literally means the spoken story of the people.

Before the age of astrophysics or astronomy, the origin of the society, the world, and even the universe were explained by mythology. The term myth is often confused with fiction, something that never really took place. However, although mythological characters might be unreal, myths provide a base to construct the past and explain how things could have come into being in the first place.

What we know as mythology in the contemporary period, was the religion, the complete truth in ancient times. They explain how human beings or the entire cosmos emerged. They express the beliefs and values of people in different cultures. It thus plays a significant role in people’s lives by explaining about things ranging from religious rituals to changes in the weather and subsequently giving meaning to the world. Paintings engraved in the prehistoric caves designs made on the tombs, monuments, and sculptures, all tends to show how even before the development and use of language, people formed a belief structure corresponding to the definition of myths. The academic fields of mythology, mythography, or folkloristic, commonly use the term mythology to mean different things at a different time irrespective of the truth or falsity of the myths.

Mythology serves as a source of literature for a diverse set of people coming from different parts of the world. Every country has its own forms of mythological texts. However, Greek mythology, Roman Mythology, Egyptian mythology, and Indian mythology are very famous due to the social values they contain. Most often, Greek mythology and Indian mythology share a common theme whereby the main character in order to avoid a prophecy succumb to their destiny. The different social values and beliefs are exhibited through mythological characters.

Mythology can be primitive or classical. While primitive mythology is dark, ghastly, or horrifying, classical mythology is not that gruesome and scary. Classical mythology belongs to a more civilized time period unlike primitive. It has three theories although none of them can be considered as right or wrong, superior or inferior. These theories are rational theory, structural theory, and psychological theory.

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Sabnam, pursuing Sociology from Miranda House, Delhi University hails from the land of red River, Assam. She is a pure non-realist, because, as she puts it, "reality hurts and pain is not what I endure but what I pour into paper!".