Monolithic Theories of Myth Essay

Pages: 5 (1499 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology

¶ … Monolithic Theories of Myth

Much of what is known about Ancient Greece and Rome has been ascertained via the artifacts which those cultures have left behind them. These artifacts include artwork in the shape of pottery and statuary, and even architecture. One of the more lasting impressions of life within these societies exists in the form of the classical mythology that comes out of that period in world history. The Ancients had mythical stories in abundance on topics as vast as the creation of the universe and the pantheon of Gods at the helm, to the explanation of how man acquired fire, to suppositions on the origins of animal and insect species. Almost all civilizations have some form of mythology or cultural storytelling, but the Greeks and Romans have been given unlimited levels of attention both by readers in the modern setting who are interested in the perspective and by scholars who look at the myths as means by which the past can be more clearly revealed. In the book The Nature of Greek Myths, author G.S. Kirk explored the potential reasons for the creation and propagation of the various Greek, and by extension the Roman, myths including: the theory of nature myths, aetiological myths, charter myths, creative era myths, and ritual myths.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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All myths are in essence, nature myths; at least that is in accordance with the first of the monolithic theories regarding ancient myth. According to Kirk, this is because they refer to "meteorological and cosmological phenomena" (1974, p. 39). The Ancient Greeks and Romans, mostly the Greeks as much of the Roman mythology is directly based upon the mythologies of the older society, looked up into the stars and tried to explain their origins. The cosmos are perhaps the most mysterious part of nature because they are unreachable and yet at the same time breathtaking. Even in the modern era, mankind has been fascinated with space, leading to eventual exploration in the twentieth century. It is assumed that somehow understanding space will allow humanity to understand the bigger questions of human existence and indeed the creation of the very earth itself. Groupings of stars were designated certain names based upon images that the people believed they saw within the formations of stars. Some of these constellations are more important than others, based upon the name given and its relationship with daily society. The fact that many of the characters of mythology are represented in the designated constellations shows the direct relationship between the cosmos and the rest of the society. This theory was found to be highly inefficient because there are far more things dealt with in mythology than the natural world, including religion and class and other forms of mythology.

Aetiology, or the study of causation or origin of a thing, is one reason why the ancients used mythology, according to GS Kirk's book of theories, because they serve as tools of explanation, or proto-science. According to the aetiological theory, as suggested by theorist Andrew Long, all myths offer some sort of an explanation for or reason for the existence of something that exists in the real world (Kirk 1974). In the days of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, they did not have access to most of the scientific knowledge and technology that we now take for granted. Understandably, societies which predate modern science have tended to create explanations for phenomena which they could not otherwise understand, such as floods, lightning, and fire. Each of these things is now explained by scientific exploration and realization about the functions of the world, the universe, and the resources that exist. Back then, though, they had no means of explaining these things and therefore developed a system of worship which would allow them to formulate a means of comprehending the incomprehensible. Now that the times of the ancients has long past, modern scholars and historians have looked back in order to hopefully be able to understand the people and Ancient Greece and Rome and their way of life. This theory was able to transcend the nature theory of mythology which was limited to things that exist in the natural world, but do not necessarily explain things like human behavior. However, this theory too has limitations because some myths do not deal with important matters and are in fact quite trivial, if they can indeed be said to actually define or explain anything.

Charter myths explain the need for or instruct the populous about proper behaviors, such… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Monolithic Theories of Myth" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Monolithic Theories of Myth.  (2013, July 17).  Retrieved February 25, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Monolithic Theories of Myth."  17 July 2013.  Web.  25 February 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Monolithic Theories of Myth."  July 17, 2013.  Accessed February 25, 2020.