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What is Mythology?
Before defining the term
"mythology" one needs to define
the meaning of the word "myth".
The word itself comes from the
Greek "mythos" which originally
meant "speech" or "discourse" but
which later came to mean "fable"
or "legend". In this document the
word "myth" will be defined as a
story of forgotten or vague origin,
basically religious or supernatural
in nature, which seeks to explain
or rationalize one or more aspects
of the world or a society.
• Religious stories that give
meaning to persons, places,
and things.
• Attempts at explaining why
something is the way it is in
• Myths were passed down from
generation to generation orally
by storytellers that is why there
are sometimes different
• It is believed to be essentially
true by those in the society
who created it.
What do Myths consist of?
• Myths are a mixture of
morals, poetry, and
• There is a protagonist
(hero or main character)
and an antagonist (villain)
who’s conflict is
eventually resolved with a
lesson to be learned.
• They make the study of
literature and history
An Asian Myth
Why the Pine is Always Green
• Think about the
lesson you can learn
from this story as
• Please click on the
link below to read the
An African Myth
Why Crocodile Has a Rough Back
• Please click on the
link below to read the
• What characteristics
do you recognize in
this story that make it
a myth?
A Native American Myth
How Coyote Stole Fire
• Please click on the
link below to read the
• What natural
occurrence does this
What is the difference between a myth, fable, legend, and tall tale?
Wikipedia states that:
• A myth is a sacred story concerning the origins of the world or
how the world and the creatures in it came to have their
present form. The active beings in myths are generally gods
and heroes. Myths take place before time, before history
begins. In saying that a myth is a sacred narrative, what is
meant is that a myth is believed to be true by people who
attach religious or spiritual significance to it.
• A fable is a short story that is invented and not true
embodying a moral.
• A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived
both by teller and listeners to take place within human history
and to possess certain qualities that give the tale truth. Legend,
for its active and passive participants, includes no happenings
that are outside the realm of "possibility", defined by a highly
flexible set of parameters, which may include miracles that are
perceived as actually having happened.
• A tall tale is a fictional story and usually obvious. It can
sometimes seem ridiculous. The tall tale originated on the
American frontier in braging contests.