Re: When does myth record actual events?

Aaron Clausen (
Wed, 24 Jul 96 18:18:54 PDT () writes:

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

Historians aren't that particularly interested in myths, since myths, if they
reflect truth, are too distant and too watered down to be much value.

Mythologies reflect the need needs of people to explain their beginnings, their
present, and their future. I doubt myths need much in the way of factual
history to get started.

Aaron Clausen Port Alberni, BC Canada