Myths and Culture
By: Syed Faisal Mahmood
Mythology or myth is not an easy term to define. The word ‘myth’ comes from the Greek origin and it means ‘story’ or ‘tale’. Thus we can say that myth is actually a traditional tale which is sometimes true or sometimes false. Mythology is often related to religion. Mythology of any culture or society actually depicts the roots of the religion and beliefs of that culture and society. Many scholars agreed that, myths actually reflect the complete picture of a society (Campbell, 1984). Campbell discussed in his book that actually all myths are based upon the relation of a person to his or her society.
Myths and Culture
It is often said that the cosmological myths are the foundation of all the cultures. Mythologists of the twentieth century are of the opinion that, “the real itself and its ethnographical or sociological representations are... fictions, albeit powerful ones that we do not experience as fictions but as true” (Gordon, 1997).
Malinowsky was the first scholar, who claimed that myths are closely related with rituals, but this theory was not accepted and most of the scholars of twentieth century considered that myths and rituals are not closely related but actually the same thing. But Malinowski’s theory was accepted in the sense that myths of the ancient culture provide the foundation of the customs and tradition of the present society and culture.
In the twentieth century, a French Scholar Georges Dumezil presented a framework which demonstrated that how the mythology has helped to shape the modern societies of the world. According to him the following three functions of the ancient myths have profound influence on the modern cultures around the world:
• Religious sovereignty
• Warriors and other physical forces
Although many scholars rejected this idea but some scholars considered it a useful foundation for the further elaboration of these ideas. Strauss was one of such...