Theories of Myth
Theories of Myth
The theory of Vico in the 1700’s reorganized perception of mythology and his efforts to rationalize these “ideal histories” in an understandable fashion permanently changed the orientation of perception of the world regarding myths (Leonard & McClure). His personal life focus was to identify cultural iconic symbols and stories, preserve and organize them into an understandable format so as to make these ancient writings into an approachable and useable format for all of humanity. This important effort forever made myths accessible to the masses and by doing so, removed some of the built-in mystery and vagueness ...view middle of the document...
He is credited with the birth of new political ideas given rise to by his works on social theory stemming from the ancient writings. His search for the native spirit of the Germanic people held within ancient writing and languages gave rise to the nationalistic campaign later bastardized by the Aryan Nation Nazi’s. This outcome is not unexpected but is somewhat unpleasant in its outcome of “ethnic cleansing” and is an example of extreme idealism of a train of thought (Leonard & McClure).
As Herder’s ideas were based on a common root language and the derivations to related but separate languages and cultures, the idea of superiority and “the betterment” of society was not a large leap although not promoted by Herder himself. His works merely underscored the need for explanation, the link people of his era were seeking. Although the likes of Vico went unheralded, Herder was immediately successful in affecting the trains of thought that formed the nationalistic opinion of the day. It is doubtful whether that was his intent, but the effects were substantial nonetheless.
Creation myths are symbolic of cyclical occurrences in human history, an attempt to explain regular happenings when the exact causality is not known. This attempt to organize chaos into a recognizable pattern is one clear method of organization of society in modern times. As exemplified by the Greek myth of the Creation of the World as told by the poet Hesiod (8th – 7th century BC) in the poem Theogony (Leonard & McClure) . In this poem, Hesiod makes clear that the Gods reign over the chaos that was the world and exerted their will to bring order (patriarchal hierarchy) so that humans my exist in relative harmony.
This explanation of how the world came to be a place of order (stratification) and will never be equal on all levels (hierarchy or a type of caste system) is a good model of creation mythology. Hesiod wrote an epic tale of how the Gods of Mount Olympus reigned over the terrible chaos in order to calm the fray and make the world habitable for mankind. In doing so as sense of debt is conveniently owed to the forefathers or Gods of the ancient times, and places in servitude all that come after. In this way, a feeling of nationalistic duty or patriotism is deeply entrenched within all the community. This brings a bond of single-minded purpose and...