Facts about mythology are so interesting. Not only are they cool to consider, they’ll also come in handy when you’re doing the crossword puzzle or playing Jeopardy! If you don’t have time to take a class, or read a book, you can still learn a little about mythology by reading this handy list. Here are 8 interesting facts about mythology.
1. There Are Various Cycles
I had only ever known about Native American and Greek mythology, and had no idea there were so many other cycles! Granted, the Roman cycle “borrows” quite a lot from the Greek cycle, but there seem to be cycles for every culture throughout history… how fascinating!
2. The Oldest is East Indian
Many of the mythology cycles are ancient, but did you know that the oldest of the recorded myth cycles is East Indian? It’s the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” estimated to be as old as 2,500 BC.
3. We’ve Lost a Lot
I say “recorded” myth cycles because there are likely many, many myths and myth cycles that have been lost over time, some of them because they were oral traditions, some because the myths that had been recorded have simply been lost.
4. The Stories Are Clearly Recycled
If you study myth, you’ll notice that many of the stories sound very familiar. That’s because many of them have been recycled, in a way, absorbed and altered by conquering cultures or taken abroad and adopted by travelers. In fact, some myths even appear in religion… how fascinating!
5. Could They Be True?
Many classicists believe that most mythical characters began as actual people, their struggles and triumphs embroidered via oral tradition across the centuries into the myths we know today. How interesting to think that someday, we might become the myths of the future!
6. They Reflect the Cultures They’re from
You can tell a lot about what ideals a culture values by studying its myths. For example, reading Homer’s “The Odyssey,” you’ll understand how important host/guest relationships were in ancient Greece. Learn any of the Norse myths, and you’ll see how the culture embraced their ideals of war-making and manliness.
7. We’re Always Making More!
My mythology professor said something once that shocked me a little. He pointed out that we’re always making MORE mythology, and that includes much of our pop culture, including our super-heroes. Get an idea of what I mean by looking at our comic books, movies, and even TV shows.
9. Was Zeus THAT Big of a Philanderer?
After looking at the Greek myth cycle, it might seem that the king of Olympians, Zeus, was quite a ladies’ man. He fooled around with all manner of goddesses and mortal women, and sired many a bastard (though he has 3 legitimate children with his wife, Hera). But there is actually a reason for this that sort of makes sense. Back in ancient Greece, when an unmarried girl gave birth to a child (this was before DNA paternity testing, after all), she would save face by saying the father was a god, THE god. So perhaps Hera’s anger and revenge weren’t always called for?
8. What Does That Word Mean, Anyway?
If someone asked you for a definition of the word “mythology” or “myth,” what would you say? I would use the simplest definition by saying they’re stories. I might include that they often include elements of the supernatural, and some can be theogenies, cosmonogies, or etiological myths, but I think just by explaining that as stories does it.
See, isn’t mythology fascinating? I love it, especially the Greek cycle. Which of these facts about mythology has sparked your interest? Or do you have a favorite character, hero, or god/goddess? Do share! I’m always excited to hear more…
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