Re: When does myth record actual events?

Robert Snower (
Fri, 26 Jul 1996 04:13:40 GMT (Aaron Clausen) wrote:

> () 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.

Don't be so apolollgetic. Historians don't know much about these

>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

Rituals came first. They evolved into myths. Then literatiure. Then
movies, TV, and on downhill.

Historical events are assimilated into the content of myths, just as
they are in the movies, or literature. But mostly they are pure
fiction. Tthe really important events ritual and myth allude to are
prehistoric. This is where they get their emotional power. And this
is where they get their function. They have the cultural
responsibility of perpetuating an ethical prescription by
perpetuating its emotion in the superficial context, even when the
ethical prescription cannot be articulated.

The mythical characters did not come from living people. They came
from gods. And gods came from both animals and dead peoplle--the
ghosts of ancestors. Living people came last in the process, as