A Comparison of Myths in Different Eras

Mythology is a huge part of Western literary culture since the 19th centuries, throughout centuries of myth-making, myths originate from different eras. Myths from different parts of history share a fair amount of dissimilarities. Stories like the Greek God of the Ocean Poseidon, the creature Sphinx are prime examples of myths that originated from the past. The term “mythopoeia” was defined in 1931 by J. R. R. Tolkien, in which he adopted it as a title for one of his poems. Through the two stories: “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” by Gabriel Garcia Márquez and “The Drowned Giant” by J.

G. Ballard, the difference between myths created in different times is apparent. The focal point of the contrast of the two stories, in which they take place in two different eras would be further discussed.

Myths were often created in the early ages of civilization as stories representing people’s ideas and thoughts while myth-making is closely related to different modern social phenomena.

Back in the 19th century, people create mythical gods and creatures that express themselves and represent a part of humanity. Greek mythical gods are a prime example that portrays the people of ancient Greek. Greek gods despite being superior to mankind, behave similarly to mortals. They quarrel with each other like humans in beauty contests, thirst for desire like men are drawn to Aphrodite’s beauty, provokes jealousy as Hera banning Leto from giving birth and fight with one another like the competition of Apollo and Marsyas.

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Both “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” by Homer depicts the brutal conflicts of Greek gods through events like the fall of Troy and the Trojan War. The comparable personalities of god and men show that ancient myths are written in the representation of the people. Similar to “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” which speaks of the villagers and this represents the people during the 60s who possess compassion for the world just as the villagers are to the drowned giant. Myths from recent years however contain less of these primitive elements that are hugely fictional, but rather mythical backgrounds that represent the society of the modern age.

In “The Drowned Giant”, the author uses the audience as an example of society, where people often think for themselves but not for others. Children toppling on top of the dead giant, companies using his severed limb for profit both represent the modern society, in which every man is for themselves. As seen, myths created in the past are majorly used to portray the thinking of its people, while myth being closer to the modern age relates to the different social occurrences of more recent times.

Myths set in former times often contain religious elements, unlike those set in close years. Medieval mythology is often associated with religion as religious stories are generally considered as myths. Stories like the birth of Jesus Christ in Christianity and the clay figures of human by Nu Wa in Chinese mythology both represents religion from its respective cultures. Religion, a theme frequently used in myths is uncommon in stories like “The Drowned Man” as it’s set in recent times. Well-known folk tale “Adam and Eve” in the Book of Genesis, in close relation with Christianity, speaks of the origin of humankind where God created the two humans in the Garden of Eden, reinforces the certainty that myths are correlated with religion. Myths in modern days rarely consist of religious elements. “Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths” by Lawrence J. Hatab speaks of ancient Greek myths and that earlier Greek myths make use of religion which later transforms into Greek philosophy.

Modern myths, setting in modern age society, contains less religious elements comparing to ancient myths. Dissimilar from ancient times, having a variance of religions in the modern age, religion is not considered as the major topic for myths setting in later times. Villagers in “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” treat the drowned giant with religious practices. Women admire him and see him as a form of a saint, where they give him the name Esteban and a proper burial. These acts are due to the compassion of villagers and that they treat him like he is a form of a saint. “The Drowned Giant” however, does not contain religious elements or hints that resemble the various religions of its people. The author J. G. Ballad while uses the behavior of different characters to express the mind of modern-day society does not make use of religious elements in the story. Myths set in earlier times, make use of religion elements more while those set closer to the modern age forgoes the use of religious elements. Thereby, myths being set in different eras inevitably contributes to differences in terms of religious aspects.

Myths set in different parts of history in fact share a certain likeness in their origin and backgrounds. In which they both make use of the odd and the unknown. Both stories speak of giants, a mythical being that is purely fictional in our everyday world. Though both stories are set at different times, their identical theme suggests that both stories utilize the fictional when it comes to characters. Ancient mythical characters like Beowulf slaying the great dragon and the Hound of Ulster Cú Chulainn are all fictional beings in myths from different ages of history. As seen, myths set in different times shares similarities through the use of fanciful characters. In “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”, the women and men are awed by the giant and his outstanding handsomeness, even more so that the giant is a being that they never encountered before.

The drowned giant being a mythical being, changed the way of life for the villagers that they have compassion for the dead giant who could have to live a better life with his superb handsomeness. “The Drowned Giant” on the other hand, uses the giant to show how people take advantage of the giant by using him as a form of leisure, a figure for sightseeing, a product for different companies. The author uses the mythical giant as a canvas illustrating the people’s attitude towards the lifeless giant, which their curiosity has converted to their selfishness of gaining profit instead of treating the giant with respect like the villagers did. The author sets the story realistically where it reflects our modern-day society. Similar publications such as “The Mark of Athena” and “The House of Hades” portrays modern-day mythology as the stories are set in the modern age, where the mythical story coincides with modern-day characters. As shown, “The Drowned Giant” relates to modern-day social norms unlike “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”, which traces back to dated times in the past.

Ultimately, the difference between myths in the two stories is that they take place in different eras. The former sets in a village in the past while the latter sets in a modern age where it correlates with our modern society. The two different stories despite uses the same theme of mythical characters are set in different eras throughout history. As seen the two stories being in different periods of history, have influenced the two distinct styles of writing and the representation of the myth. Thereby, the differences between “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” and “The Drowned Giant” are essentially contributed by the two contrasting settings in each story, one being in the former history, while the other in the modern age.

Works Cited

  1. Ballard, J. G. “The Drowned Giant” Chronopolis: and other stories. Putnam, 1971.
  2. Homer, and E. V. Rieu. The Odyssey. Methuen, 1952.
  3. Homer, and William Cowper. The Odyssey of Homer. J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1910.
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien: Mythopoeia. 5th March 2010
  5. Márquez, Gabriel Garcia. “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” Leaf storm and other stories. Perennial Classics, 1972.

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A Comparison of Myths in Different Eras. (2020, Oct 29). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/a-comparison-of-myths-in-different-eras-essay

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