It is a traditional story based on ancient beliefs of different communities and having supernatural explanations of facts or natural phenomena. The mythical story is related to religious beliefs, for that reason, has a ritual character, ie presents invariable elements and is distinguished by its durability. The purpose of myth is not to entertain, as with the story, but to explain the meaning of life. So there are certain subjects such as the origin of man and the universe, which are treated in the myths of all cultures. The myth responds to a particular way of seeing the world and to explain the phenomena that exist in it.
Unlike science, which gives rational and logical explanations to these phenomena, the myth gives explanations mógicas and somewhat fantastic. For this reason, events occur absurd myths, magic solutions exist and appear fabulous characters. The fact that different communities have similar concerns led to the creation of myths about the same phenomena in different cultures. In the myth of Phaeton these aspects are reflected in the following manner: Phenomenon: The origin of deserts and of the black race. Made fantastic: Phaeton driving the chariot of the sun to prove its divine origin. Universality: The phenomenon, how it is explained and the characters are repeated with some different characteristics in myths of other communities. Classification of myths beind coded contents:
– Cosmogenic: explain the creation of the world. – Theogonic: explain the origin of the gods. – Antropogónicos: explain the appearance of man – Etiological: explain political, religious and social. – Morales: Explain ethical principles opposites like good and evil, angels and demons.
Features According to Mircea Eliade, myth is a sacred story that chronicles an event that happened during primeval time, in which the world had not yet stood. The events of the periodically recurring nature are explained as a result of the events narrated in the myth (for example, in Greek mythology the cycle of seasons is explained from the abduction of Persephone). However, not all myths refer to a time “first” also can address occurring after the origin, but distinguished by their importance and the changes they brought.
In the view of Claude Levi-Strauss, structuralist anthropologist, every myth has three characteristics: • This is an existential question concerning the creation of the earth, death, birth and the like. • consists of irreconcilable opposites: creation vs destruction, life against death, gods against men or good vs. evil. • provides the reconciliation of these poles in order to avert our anguish. For its part, the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski argued that no important aspect of life that is alien to the myth. Therefore, there are religious myths (such as the birth of the gods), politicians (such as the founding of Rome) or on particular issues (why corn became the main food of a people, as with the pre-Hispanic peoples of Mexico ). For Malinowski fundamental myths are narratives, while responding to the basic questions of human existence: reason to exist, because of what surrounds it, between otras.Malinowski also clarified that the myth of the order of beliefs and if it is an explanation, not a rational explanation, but cultural.
Function of Myth
Functions are multiple myths. However, in general, can accept three essential functions: explanatory and pragmatic meaning. The explanatory function refers to the myths explain, justify or develop the origin, purpose and because of some aspect of social or individual, for example, the Greek myth that tells how the world originated from “Chaos” or Genesis that says the birth of the woman from the rib of a man. The pragmatic function of myth implies that myths are the basis of certain social structures and actions as well, a myth can make a genealogical line and determine who can govern or not. With this feature, specify and justify myths why a situation is in a certain way and not another. The role of meaning refers to that myths are not just stories that provide explanations or political justifications also provide a comfort, calm life goal or individuals, so it is with myths that speak of death, suffering or victory therefore, the myths are stories away from the person, but function as a handle existential, a motive, according to the American psychoanalyst, Rollo May. The three functions are usually combined steadily.
Types of Myths
We distinguish several kinds of myths: • cosmogonic myths: attempt to explain the creation of the world. Are the most universally widespread and there is a greater amount. Often, lies the origin of the earth in a primordial ocean. Sometimes, a race of giants, like the Titans, plays a crucial role in this creation, in this case, such giants, which are usually demigods, are the first people on earth. • Myths theogonic: tell the origin of the gods. For example, Athena comes armed from the head of Zeus. • anthropogenic Myths: narrating the appearance of human beings, who can be created from any material, alive (a plant, an animal) or inert (dust, mud, clay, etc..). The gods taught to live on earth. Usually linked to the cosmogonic myths. • Myths etiological explain the origin of beings, things, techniques and institutions. • moral Myths: explain the existence of good and evil.
• Foundational Myths: tell how the cities were founded by the will of the gods. An example is the founding of Rome by two twins, Romulus and Remus, who were suckled by a she-wolf. • Myths eschatological: announce the future, the end of the world. They still have wide audience. These myths include two major classes, depending on the element that causes the destruction of the world: water or fire. They are often linked to astrology. The imminent end is announced by a higher frequency of eclipses, earthquakes, and all sorts of natural disasters that terrorize humans. The classic example is the ‘Apocalypse’, considered as such by Bertrand Russell.1 Reading literal, allegorical and symbolic
While myths appear to have been originally proposed as literally true stories, the dialectic between the world’s mythical explanation and philosophical and scientific development has favored non-literal readings of myth, according to which they should not be subject to belief, but interpretation. Thus the allegorical reading of myths, born in Greece in the Hellenistic period, proposes to interpret the gods as personifications of natural elements. This commitment finds its continuation in later theories, such as widespread in the nineteenth century by Max Müller, whereby myths stories stem from misunderstood about the sun, which has been personified, becoming an anthropomorphic (the hero or sun god).
Reading symbolic believes the myth contains accurate content, but not on what is apparently, but on the mental contents of its creators and users. Thus, the myth about a god instituted the week to create the world in seven days contains truthful about how society divided the time it was created and which divisions between the inanimate and the animate, the different types of animals and man etc.. Myths also contain useful guidelines for behavior: role models or avoid all known stories with which to relate individual experiences. Modern studies on the myth fall into three basic positions:
• the functionalist, developed by the anthropologist Malinowski examines what myths are used in everyday life (behavior reinforcement, argument from authority, etc.). • structuralist, initiated by Levi-Strauss, examines the construction of myths locating contrary or complementary elements that appear in it and how they are related; • the symbolism, which has classical references in Jung, Bachelard and Gilbert Durand, believes that the key element of the myth is a symbol, a tangible item but full of resonance or significance that refers to archetypal contents of the human psyche. (An example is the Child archetype Elder, contradictory figure who appears as a character in appearance or behavior longtime child-like Merlin or a baby or child who is capable of speaking and endowed with vast knowledge, typical of an old-the baby Jesus lecturing to doctors.) Difference between myth and other stories
Often myth is often confused with other types of stories as tales, fables and legends. However, are not equal. There are several differences between myth and folk tale: while the stories are presented as fictions, myths are presented as true stories. Function also varies: the myth is essentially etiological (clear how they came to a certain situation, why the sea is salty or man is mortal, for example), while the values transmitted folktale (better skill than strength, good always has its reward, the impostor is always open, etc..).
In addition, the plot of the stories is usually simple, while myths are part of a complex, in which each story is connected with the other by recurrent characters, places, etc.. (So, for example, the story of Jason is related to myths about Heracles, as this is one of the Argonauts). The fables myths differ from the characters (those fables are animals human conduct the myths, gods, heroes and monsters) and by function (fables contain a moral message, which usually appears at the end collected of them as moral, while myths are etiological).
As for the legends, are presented, as well as myths, like true stories and often have a causal role (used, for example, to explain how a lineage came to power, which underpins its political legitimacy), but Unlike myths, happening in real time, historic places recognized by the listener or reader, and often with real actors (cf. the legends of Charlemagne or El Cid). The same pattern may appear in a myth, a story or legend, depending on how you present the story (true or fictional) and what your role (etiological, educational, entertainment …). Thus, noted how the plot of the Oedipus myth reappears in the medieval legend of Judas Iscariot makes a murderer of his father who marries without knowing his mother.