Term Paper: Mythology Is Important

Pages: 9 (2714 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] More sophisticated mythology on the other hand often includes significant conflicts and losses for the good side. In order to deal with conflicts between opposing parties, mythological stories are often used as guidelines for the right way to do this.

The myth of justice for example is particularly prevalent in the stories of King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable. The judge assumes the role of fairness, symbolized by the black robe, and delivers justice from his bench. The criteria for being a judge are thoughtfulness and compassion, with the ability to make the right decision for all involved. The same criteria are inherent in the legal system of western society.

Indeed, it is expected that the law exists to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens, and that judges will fulfill this expectation. This is one of the cases where the direct cultural impact of mythology can be seen. This also has repercussions in the myth-making practices seen on television. The legal system, as based upon the myth of King Arthur, can be seen in several television shows, including "Judging Amy." The ethics and values practiced by the judge are based within the legal system, and within the systems created centuries ago by the King Arthur myth.

The comparison and study of these stories are useful in understanding the roots of the legal system, as well as the cultural values inherent in them.

Mythology as Religion

The largest part that mythology plays in the study of human values is probably in religion. This is also the area of study where the most information relating to cultural values can be investigated.

Christian values are for example explained through the stories of the Bible. Children are told these stories in order to teach them the values of this particular religion, while the adult faithful use the stories in order to guide the values they adhere to in life. This again is universally true among the religions. Each religion has a variety of mythological stories in order to help its adherents understand and live according to the values required by the religion.

Also inherent in the need for religious mythology is the human fear of death and wish for eternal life. Each religion promises perpetuity in some form; either as an afterlife or a succession of earthly lives by means of reincarnation. Thus, figures such as Jesus and Shiva then act as the heroes of religious mythology. They are the heroes that human beings strive to imitate, and whose lives are desired by those reading their stories.

The study of religious myth can be useful for the same reasons as the study of mythology in general. Firstly, studying religious myths from several cultures help to understand the fundamental moral values held dear by that culture. Furthermore the age of these stories help to understand and explain cultures from the time during which the stories were written. Studying religious myths from one's own culture again helps to understand and explain life according to one's own cultural paradigm. This also serves to strengthen the cultural bonds that one needs in order to connect socially. Personal growth issues are also touched upon when studying religious mythology as opposed to mythology from other sources.

Religion is also an area of life, like law, that has been the subject of modern myth-making. The television drama "Joan of Arcadia" is an example of this. The myth of Joan of Arc has been modernized to depict the life of a young girl who finds herself in conversation with God. The setting is modernized, with problems experienced by modern people in areas of family, work and school. Joan's conversations with God then help her to understand and explain life to herself, as they do the audience.

Another prominent work of art is the film "The Passion of the Christ," directed by Mel Gibson. By depicting the suffering of the great religious figure, audiences are reconnected with the fundamental truths of the origins of Christianity.

It is furthermore interesting to also consider the mythology of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, whose pagan myths are still the subject of discussion and study. These myths derive from polytheistic cultures, where the religious system is much different from the most prevalent religions of our time. Yet the value that can be derived from studying these myths includes knowledge regarding many of the elements that survive from ancient times. The days of the week for example, as well as the names of the planets, derive from these traditions. Natural cycles and phenomena yet unexplained by science were described and explained by mythological stories. And of course these myths also provide valuable material for study in terms of their aesthetic value.

The study and comparison of religious mythology then not only provides an understanding of the human truths as understood by certain cultures, but also to create new myths in order to understand life as it currently exists. Indeed, religious mythology is all the more complex in that it not only includes a variety of stories, but also stories within the myth itself. The parables of Jesus is an example of this. These parables have been the subject of many religious studies. This in itself shows the importance of studying these stories.

Conclusion

The main reason for studying mythology is that it is very much embedded in human consciousness, to such an extent in fact that often we are hardly aware of it. Mythology holds the keys to what it is to be human. The values and ethics close to the human heart, as well as human hopes and dreams, are all explained in symbolic form by myths.

Mythology is also a very useful teaching tool. A child for example finds stories more interesting than lectures. When a child hears a story that he or she can identify and sympathize with, it is much easier to learn the particular values embedded in such a story. This is what makes these stories such effective tools.

Most importantly perhaps, the process of globalization and the growth of technology has put people of different cultures much more closely into contact with each other. The mythology of these cultures can then be studied in order to become aware of the beauty inherent in each culture, as well as the values held dear by these cultures. In this way then misunderstandings can be minimized and even eliminated when the different cultures meet.

The study of mythology is as vitally important as the study of science, language, psychology, or any other academic discipline. The usefulness of such study is balanced by the aesthetic value that can be derived from the study of mythology. Each mythological story has its own beauty, while also teaching its own lesson. A study of mythology brings people closer together in a spirit of understanding. It also helps to create new myths in order to understand the world and life as experienced from a variety of different viewpoint.

Bibliography

Oregon Mediation Center. "Dispute Resolution Mythology." 2004. http://www.to-agree.com/medres/pg23.cfm

Miller, Ken. "An Introduction to the Mythology of the Druids." Oct.-Nov. 2002. Bandarach Council of Druids. http://www.bandarach.org/Paper002.htm [END OF PREVIEW]

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