The myth is an anonymous, first oral tradition, which tells of gods, demons, heroes, and events of the past, and above all of the creation of man or of the world. Such myths can be demonstrated in all cultures, whereby they are a way of mankind to express their world and self-understanding. The myth is thus a form of the (religious) world interpretation and gives answers to the primordial history of mankind. The totality of all the myths of a people or culture is their mythology. Myths always have a claim to truth, so they claim to be true. Sage and legend are similar.
The term is derived from the ancient Greek μῦθος, which can be translated by means of narrative, speech, word, sound or even legendary history (cf Mar). From this noun the Latin mythus, which is equally significant, derives. Thus, the translation already provides clear indications as to the meaning of the term: namely, a (legendary) narrative, which has been passed on orally [with which people and cultures express their world understanding]. However, a uniform definition is difficult.
This is due to the fact that the term has been used in the past centuries in quite different ways and is difficult to grasp because of the different contents in the individual cultures and peoples. If one examines different lexicons, they do not define the myth in the same way and give different, partly contradictory, information on this concept.
However, there are some characteristics that are identical in most cases and some indications that apply to the different myths as well as examples that make the different forms of the term tangible as well as individual terms for the various manifestations of the myth.
Overview: Characteristics of the myth
The myth is a narrative, handed down in different anonymous versions and passed on verbally. It provides answers to the self- and world-understanding of cultures and people. It is therefore a religiously colored representation of processes from natural and world life, which are linked to human activity. The myths can explain the world around us and are therefore to be regarded as childish, ie, initial, philosophies of man. The totality of cultural myths is mythology.
Myths explain the world in some way, and consist largely of gods and heroes. Above all, Greek or Roman mythology is familiar to us nowadays. Here, facts and connections are explained by gods, heroes, or fabulous beings, such as the creation of the world or life after death.
In essence, the myth is always true, since it mostly tries to explain an actual event. The narrative forms of legend, legend, fable, and fairy tales are very similar. However, myths are also considered meaningful. This means that they are designed to give meaning to (events or things).
In the myth, there is a vivid, pictorial language, which is easy to understand for most of us, describing an early event, which explains a state of affairs of today, or at least provides hints about its background.
Myths can often be understood as practical guidance to gain a view of the world. Since the myth does not only separate individual points, but also conveys a comprehensive worldview, it can represent a form of holistic knowledge of the world.
Most myths are characterized by a strict division of time. Thus, there is usually a beginning – a point which is to be regarded as the origin of the genesis and further corner points, whereby the individual stories of the myth can be sorted on a time beam. For example, in Greek mythology the chaos is at the beginning.
Recurring processes in nature – seasons, sunrise, sunset, tides – or the human world (eg death, birth) are often explained in the myth by divine intervention. The same applies to weather phenomena or natural catastrophes.
In the early days, myths were closely interwoven with cult as well as ritual. This means that from the myth derived certain rites, customs and traditions, which were celebrated by festivals or celebrated through sacrifices and the like. Thus, myths were orally transmitted by a selected group of people such as priests, singers, or elders.
Knossos was an ancient place on the Greek island of Crete. He is best known for the Palace of Knossos, one of the largest palaces on the island, which has also been declared a Cultural Heritage. The palace is angled, which probably plays a decisive role for the subsequent myth about the Minotaur.
According to Homer, one of the first great poets of the West, around 1600 BC, Chr. King Minos over Knossos. Minos was a son of Zeus the godfather and of Europe. He was the husband of Pasiphae and father of Ariadne and Androgeus. One day Poseidon gave the king a splendid white bull, which Zeus was to sacrifice. The beautiful bull liked the king so much that he kept him.
Zeus, who punished Minos for it, occupied his wife, Pasiphae, with a curse that aroused in her a desire for the bull. Thereupon Pasiphae asked her master builder Daidalos to build her a cow’s costume to join the bull. The Cretan bull was the wife of King Minos, whereupon she bore a man-eating bull, the Minotaur.
Minos, who was furious with his wife’s absence, wanted to kill the Minotaur, but was persuaded by his daughter Ariadne to keep him alive. However, he also sought out Daidalos to commission him to construct a labyrinth to ban the bull forever.
A short time later the son of Minos died, Androgeus, which the king took as an opportunity to punish the inhabitants of Athens, whom he blamed for the son’s death. He claimed from them, every nine years, a tribute of seven virgins and seven young men who were sacrificed to the Minotaur. Theseus, a hero of Greek antiquity volunteered to fight against the Minotaur.
When he met Minos’ daughter Ariadne after his arrival in Crete, they both fell in love. Theseus entrusted her with his intention. When he agreed to marry and take her to Athens, she gave him a magic thread, with which he came out of the labyrinth at any time. Theseus, with the help of the gods, succeeded in succumbing to the Minotaurs, which he sacrificed to Poseidon.
Fable: Fables are invented and written by an author, with no specific information about time and space. In the fable animals act and certainly represent the human being. The fable ends with a point and is usually instructive. The protagonists are usually not unique characters, but stereotypes, which embody certain characteristics (cf fables).
Fairy tales: Are also fictitious, differ in fairy tales (enumerated) and art fairy tales (by an author). Fairy tales play outside of space and time, which is why no concrete location and time specifications are made. The staff of the fairy tale is more typed, there are rarely concrete persons (The princess, the wolf, the evil witch).
Legend: The difference between legend and legend is low. In principle, the same features apply. It is important, however, that legends always tell of saints. Of course, they also always refer to a specific person or a clear event, which is why the claim to reality is equally high. They are usually based on the biography of a person.
Sage: Is handed down orally, and deals with concrete persons, times or places of action. According to this, the legend has a very high degree of real- ity, which is why the characters are named very precisely. It is true that there are fabulous beings, but they are recognizable as such.
Myth: A myth certainly explains the world. Above all, Greek or Roman mythology is familiar to us today. Here, facts and connections are explained by gods, heroes, or fabulous beings, such as the creation of the world or life after death.