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Myths of Cultures and Civilizations Essay

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From before the dawn of civilization as we know it, humanity has formed myths and legends to explain the natural world around them. Whether it is of Zeus and Hera or Izanami-no-Mikoto and Izanagi-no-mikoto, every civilization and culture upon this world has its own mythos. However, the age of myth is waning as it is overshadowed in this modern era by fundamental religion and empirical science. The word myth has come to connote blatant falsehood; however, it was not always so. Our myths have reflected both the society and values of the culture they are from. We have also reflected our inner psyche, conscious and unconscious, unto the fabric of our myths. This reflection allows us to understand ourselves and other cultures better. Throughout the eons of humanity’s existence, the myths explain natural phenomena and the cultural legends of the epic hero have reflected the foundations and the inner turmoil of the human psyche.
Over the recent centuries, the definition of myth has decayed into a word synonymous with falsehoods and lies. This idea of myths being completely false and therefore useless is a fairly modern one. To combat the rise of empirical science in the 1900s, theologians brought the idea of wholly literal, fundamental religion into being to combat ideas that did not perfectly align with the tenants of the religion (May 24). This was the final death blow to the idea of the metaphysical myth that was already wounded from thousands of years of being denounced as pagan or barbaric. The rise of empirical science also lent to the decay of the meaning of myth. Science was able to explain the natural world far better than a myth ever could; however, it lacked the metaphysical aspect. Due to these rising ideologies, myths hav...


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Freud, Sigmund. The Future of an Illusion. New York: Norton & Company Inc., 1961. Print.
Henderson, Joseph. “Ancient Myths and Modern Men.” Man and his Symbols. Ed. Carl Jung. New York: Doubleday & Company Inc., 1964. 104-158. Print.
Jung, Carl. “Approaching the Unconscious.” Man and his Symbols. Ed. Carl Jung. New York: Doubleday & Company Inc., 1964. 1-104.
Kromholz, Susan Foster, and P. Kyle McCarter. “Why Myth Endures.” Johns Hopkins Magazine. Aug 1990: 32-37. Sirs Issues Researcher. Web, 07 Apr. 2104.
May, Rollo. The Cry for Myth. New York: Norton & Company, 1991. Print.
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