Re: When does myth record actual events?

James Moylan (
Wed, 24 Jul 1996 02:26:52 GMT () wrote:

>Aaron Clausen ( wrote:
>: The difficulty of attempting to corellate myths with historical events is that
>: myths often predate those assumed events. Look at the commonality among
>: Indo-European mythologies. Certainly figures like Thor and Hercules may have
>: had some basis in real individuals, but I suspect that the myths predated the
>: people.

>I rather like Tolkein's answer to this question - myths start off with
>one or more real (but not necessarily related) happenings being combined
>and then get additional elements from both real and mythical happenings
>as time goes on. (This is a highly over-simplified version of the argument
>given in the essay 'on fairy stories', but it gives the gist of what I
>understand his argument to be.) I've heard that a lot of Tolkein's
>theories have since been discarded, from a couple of lecturers of history,
>but there's a certain elegence to his ideas on how stories evolve which
>appeals to me. Apologies to any serious historian with a more accurate

Hey - everyones mental meanderings have been discarded by "a couple of
lecturers of history," at some stage !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Social science it seems to me [adopts suitable stoic/comic pose] is
the manipulation of many sometimes mutually conflicting, yet each
internally coherent, analytic templates to comb paradigms of knowledge
jealously guarded by proffessional tenders of knowledge. {If it ain't
far too complex then you haven't been thinking hard enough....}

Read LEAF BY NIGGLE by H.R.Tolkien and if you were brought up in an
English/Australian/NZ household that was reasonably bookish then it
will play your emotions like a harp.

NOTE on terminology - In 'semiotics' (after Barthes) a good working
definition of 'mythology might be - a second level "connotaional"
signification relating as a metonymic paradigmatic element to and of a
secondary and current discourse.