Free Myths - Narrative Essay Sample
Historically myths have served the purpose of answering basic yet unanswerable human questions as to how or why this world, this universe or humans themselves exist. Myths have helped assuage the anxiety that ignorance causes and allowed humans to weave symbolic tales that helped explain real phenomenon (Kluckhohn 49). Over time myths evolved into religions and then were greatly challenged by the advent of science and technology. In today’s age myths exist in various forms. Despite the domination of science and rationality myths survive because they provide a rich literary resource as in the Greek mythology, or the basis of religion as in Hinduism but they also exist as a fast extinguishing narrative that needs to be preserved and evoked to keep history in place as in the case of Native American mythology.
Greek mythology is one of the most profound mythical narratives that exist today. The Greek mythology encompasses vivid details and stories of gods, titans, part humans, mix breed animals, their powers and a whole system of worlds where gods, humans and the dead existed in separate territories. One particular mythology that has persisted in modern knowledge and literature is the story of Oedipus. According to Homer and then Sophocles the King Liaus of Thebes was told a prophecy that he will be murdered by his son. Accordingly when his wife bore a son the infant was condemned to die. The boy was saved by a shepherd and raised by King Polybus of Corinth and his wife. This boy was Oedipus and in his early adulthood he too encountered the oracle who had prophesized that he was fated to kill his father. Oedipus assumed that the father in question was King Polybus so he decided to leave and never go back to Corinth. As fate would have it, Oedipus made his way to Thebes and on the way encountered King Laius and killed him as a result of a quarrel. Oedipus continued on his way to Thebes and came to know that the city gates were under the dominion of a sphinx and it murdered those who couldn’t answer its riddles. Oedipus answered the sphinx’s riddle and rid the city of its presence. Oedipus was made the king of Thebes and the widowed queen Jacosta was offered to him as a wife. Oedipus and Jacosta had four children together and later when Oedipus became cognizant that he had killed the King it came out that he had been married to his own mother. Jacosta committed suicide upon knowing this and Oedipus blinded himself and went into exile. This tragic mythology has a strong theme of the unpredictability and immutability of fate and of the insignificance of human efforts and schemes (Encyclopedia Britannica, n.p.).
The strong idea of preordained events and human sexuality in this myth allowed it to be evoked at various occasions in the human history. Its renditions in literature are numerous but in the recent past it has been most famously used by Sigmund Freud to name his theory of infantile sexuality. According to Freud infants during the age of 3 to 5 years develop a liking for the parent of the opposite gender and a competitive attitude towards the same gendered parent. Oedipus complex is used to denote these sexual feelings in male infants. According to Freud these feelings are instinctive and are resolved with a successful progression through this age. This theory of Freud borrows its explanation heavily from the Oedipus myth as well as the name. This theory has been the cause of much debate and controversy as well as experiments that test its validity (Ahmed 60). It can be seen in general that the influences of Greek mythology have persisted through the ages and references can still be discerned in idioms (Herculean task), product and services names (Aegis Group, Titan watches etc.) and literary and popular culture works (Prometheus 2012, Hercules 2014, The lightening thief 2005) (morefocus, n.p.).
Another great body of mythology exists in the Hindu tradition. But unlike the Hellenistic mythology, Hindu mythology is an important part of the Indian religion and culture even today in its original form. The Hindu mythology is also replete with humans with godly attributes, super animals, great wars and unique planets. In Hindu mythology the driving forces and entities of this universe are in the form of three couples. The three masculine characters denote creation, destruction and preservation. The female counter parts denote wealth, strength and knowledge and the systems of this world are presumed to rest upon the interactions and interplay of these elements and forces (Kanti, 20). It can be seen that the symbolism in Hindu mythology is easily comprehensible and the narratives of the Hindu mythology have been accumulating since before 1000 BCE and have been transferred over generations. Given the age old history of Hindu tradition the mythology has also evolved and burgeoned resulting in numerous deities and characters that are revered and also worshipped even today (Hinduism and Mythology n.p.).
Perhaps the most famous myth in the Indian tradition is that of Ram, Sita and Raavan narrated in the epic Ramayana. Ram was a crown price who lived his life strictly by the dharma (religion) but he had to forgo the throne because of his step mother and he went into exile with his wife Sita and brother Lakshuman. Later in the tale the demonic 10 headed king of Lanka Ravana abducts Sita and an epic battle ensues where Ravana is defeated and Sita is reclaimed by Ram. Ram is then shown to seek a confession of purity from Sita before he can accept her as his wife and it is held up as an act of setting up a good example. The actual tale is replete with heroic and noble exploits and is upheld as a great moralistic text and teaching tool (Vyas 11). Modern day renditions of this mythical tale are various and widely appreciated. Tales from Hindu mythology and particularly Ramayana are part of the school curriculums and also the subjects of various documentary and entertainment films and features (Ramayana: An Epic 2010, Raavan 2010 etc.).
Another diaspora that is found to be highly rich in mythology is America but the Native Indian people who believed and preserved these myths have slowly been acculturated in to the main stream American culture or been shunned to the frontiers. This has resulted in the mythologies being forgotten and their impacts largely vanish. One particular tribe Blackfoot had very interesting mythologies that also formed a basis of their religion and rituals. This tribe did not allow outsiders to tell their tales and only the elders of the village had the privilege to do so. This could have resulted in the extinction of the mythologies but were fortunately recovered and preserved by George B. Grinnell, John Maclean, D.C. Duvall, Clark Wissler, and James Willard Schultz. The story of creation as told by the Blackfoot people proceeds with a supreme being, the Sun also known as the Old-man or the Napioa. It is said that he created the Earth and all that exists on its surface including the humans, plants and animals. But even before the earth existed the Napioa floated on a river and found a turtle and mud from the turtle’s mouth was used to create this earth (Kehoe et al n.p.). So according to the Blackfoot mythology we exist on a planet created by a humanoid Sun and there exist turtles from whose mouth enough mud could be obtained to create this earth. Although this mythology forms an interesting literary compilation, it has been pushed out of the popular media and also the academics and cultural histories of America. This ostracism is unfortunate but since the fate of the Native Americans themselves is pitiable it is understandable that this collection of myths is being forgotten (Richter n.p.).
Myths have originated since the earliest of times and still exist today at various stages of preservation or extinguishing. The Greek mythology still exists as a powerful narrative all over the world but it has been reduced to a literary text with time. The Hindu mythology has survived because of its deep roots in the Hindu religion and Indian culture but it is not as well known or well understood as the Greek mythology. The Native American mythologies have largely been over shadowed by the knowledge of modern day and they are fast becoming a scarcely known body of knowledge. Mythologies no longer fulfill our rational or scientific criteria but still hold great value as moralistic and literary texts.
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