The Purpose of Myths In Ancient Egyptian & Greek Mythology

Mythology, though told through entertainment engenders culture and beliefs within a civilization. The concepts of such mythology are complex and ambiguous that each civilization could manipulate and reform a story into their own way. Especially due to oral tradition, many of these myths were based on word of mouth, thus details and concepts could have been altered or added. Myths of such nature close the gaps in domestic life with knowledge and faith. The concept of myths conceptualizes ideas to ease the curiosity of a civilization.

The stories told through oral tradition incorporate worldly concepts to develop a basis for the mystery of high power and a guide for social standards and traditions.

The beginning of life has been conceptualized in Egyptian beliefs in myths; these myths offer the explanation of the natural phenomenon of the creation of the universe, emphasized in the story of Re. In this story, it was believed there was darkness and “ a great waste of water called Nun”.

Nun gave existence to a “great shining egg” named Re. Re had the ability to rename himself and change forms to Shu the creator of wind, Tefnut the spitter of rain, Geb the creator of Earth, Nut the inhabitant of the sky and, Hapi the controller of the Nile. His final formation was the first Pharoah of Egypt that enriched the land with prosperity and coined the phrase “what happened in the time of Re”. This sufficed curiosity within Egypt with an answer to how the universe was created in the terms of Egyptian gods.

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As humans, there is a sense of the need to know explanations and answer questions. In these cases, Egyptians honored Re as the creator of their world.

Greek mythology, however, forspoke a different tale of the creation of life but produced the same effect. Nyx was a bird with black wings surrounded by darkness that laid a golden egg with the presence of Eros the goddess of love. Once Eros hatched, she created the sky under the god Uranus and Earth under the goddess Gaia. Uranus and Gaia gave birth to many children and the lineage created Zeus who produced Prometheus and Epimetheus who created men and animals. Likewise to Egyptians, Greeks worshiped their own polytheistic gods. These gods created such icons in their civilization as the symbols of strength and power, which all in all created their life form. These recorded beliefs in a god or gods creating the universe and those developed years later in more advanced civilizations are all myths; they can not be proven and they all serve a basis for religion.

Both Egyptian and Greek civilizations having polytheistic views initiated specific gods to dominate specific areas of life that associated with their culture. This presented complexity in both cultures and religions. This contributed to their lifestyle of producing gifts and treasures to sacrifice to the gods.

The story of Isis and Osiris continued to explain the value of harvest and knowledge throughout Egyptian land. Isis introduced grain as Osiris taught tending the crops and processing the food to attain bread wine, and beer. The vital myths offer a guide to survive and connect the supernatural and the natural world to exemplify their gods are in their sphere of life.

Greece was founded on fruitful living. The goddess Demeter implemented harvest and foretold the understanding of the seasons as Dionysus was the god of grapes, wine, fertility, theater, and religious ecstasy. Entertainment was a fundamental part of Greek culture, among theatre and art under the influence of the god Dionysus. The honor of Dionysus was immense as it was custom to go see a play and enjoy the culture of Dionysius. These myths took shape in their culture by celebrating their gods.

The honor and celebration towards gods and goddesses extended to rituals and traditions. Ancient Egyptians followed the vowed principles and rituals of the gods. Egyptians believed in the embalming process to delay decay under the god of Anubis, referred to as Imy-ut. Priests would often perform the embalming process while wearing the head of Anubis. The god Anubis became a symbol under a dog or jackal for the civilization and a primal part of their funerary services. Anubis was heavily worshiped in Hardai, Anubeion, Abt, and Saut with temples. “Anubis was credited with a high level of anatomical knowledge as a result of embalming, and so he was the patron of anaesthesiology and his priests were apparently skilled herbal healers.”

The afterlife process was complex; The Book of The Dead was guided to the benefit of spells in the afterlife. Morality and justice were important in civilization as the final judgment for Egyptians determined the afterlife of a human. The heart inhibited the ib, similar to a soul that contained a person’s memory, character, and insight, and kept in the body during the embalming process. The heart would be weighed in against an ostrich feather by Ma’at – the god of righteousness, order, and truth. The heavier the heart, the more sins the person committed. Osiris would determine the fate of the afterlife; if the heart was lighter than the feather, the person’s soul could continue to the Field of Reed. If the heart was heavier than the feather, the heart would be given to a crocodile to eat and no afterlife would be given to the person. The extensive process of death supported societal morals for a human to keep their heart away from sins through fear of no afterlife.

The combination of the purposes of myths gathers a basis for history and literature in a civilization. In both Egyptian and Greek culture the gods offer a historical background to its religion; however stories of warriors and heroes engender through the oral tale. The most prominent texts in ancient civilizations are The Illiad and The Odyssey. These stories by Homer describe the events of The Trojan War. The Illiad takes depth in Achilles during the war, his achievements, and his choices of life, as The Odyssey takes a look at Oddyseus’s wit, decisions, and interactions. These characters were prophetized to be the ideal citizens of Greece as they died as heroes for their country with their honor, virtue, and greatness.

Therefore, myths have served a purpose to address the mystery of a higher power and a guide for social standards and traditions in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece but have the same effect on its citizens. Myths provide a basis for unanswered questions of life and a segway to religion. Without bias towards religion, these texts become history to remark on the culture of civilizations. Without the archeological artifacts and scripts found in ancient times with part of the stories written or drawn on them, advanced societies would have trouble deciphering the history of the past.

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The Purpose of Myths In Ancient Egyptian & Greek Mythology. (2021, Apr 15). Retrieved from

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