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Overview

myth

Subject: Literature

A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.

myth

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The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015

...prevails, and myths are regarded as fictional stories containing deeper truths, expressing collective attitudes to fundamental matters of life, death, divinity, and existence (sometimes deemed to be ‘universal’). Myths are usually distinguished from legends in that they have less of an historical basis, although they seem to have a similar mode of existence in oral transmission, re-telling, literary adaptation, and allusion . A mythology is a body of related myths shared by members of a given people or religion, or sometimes a system of myths evolved by an...

Myth

Myth   Reference library

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Classical studies, History
Length:
1,973 words

...the attempt to define myth on the basis of a story's attributes has failed. Myths are stories that everybody in the group knows; in fact, such knowledge defines the group. This explains why a novel like Owen Wister's The Virginian ( 1902 ), though about the mythic American West, is not a Western myth. Myths are traditional: they are old and their authors unknown. But old age does not make a story a myth; rather, a story gets to be old because it is a myth. Moreover, knowing a myth is not sufficient in itself for, to be a myth, a story must live in...

myth

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A Dictionary of Critical Theory (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2018

...(i.e. the content). Applied to myth, as Lévi-Strauss explains, this logic results in the almost completely opposite view to Jung—now the elements of a myth (the challenges the hero must face, the special powers brought to bear, and so on) can be considered significant only in terms of the combination of their relations with other elements and not for themselves. The specific combination of elements will vary from myth to myth, but the way of producing this combination is unique to myth and universal according to Lévi-Strauss. Myths have the following...

myth

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A Dictionary of Sociology (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Social sciences, Sociology
Length:
62 words

... A sacred or religious tale whose content is concerned with the origins or creation of natural, supernatural, or cultural phenomena. The anthropological meaning differs from that which implies an untruth. Myths have been studied as fractured sources of oral history, as clues to the society's dominant values, as a ‘social charter’, and (by Claude Lévi-Strauss ) for their universal...

myth

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The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
Archaeology, History
Length:
47 words

... [De] A narrative organizing data such as beliefs about transcendental powers, the origins of the universe, social institutions, or the history of the people. Viewed in functional terms myths serve to record and present the moral system whereby contemporary attitudes and actions are ordered and...

myth

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A Dictionary of Sports Studies

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Social sciences, Society and culture
Length:
254 words

... An account of a figure or an event that is sustained through time in a particular society or culture, and that resonates with meanings related to the morality of human conduct. Sociologists and anthropologists have studied the nature of myth in particular cultural settings, and some have sought to identify the underlying patterns of myth across societies (their universal structures). Roland Barthes, though, writes that ‘one can conceive of very ancient myths, but there are no eternal ones’ ( Mythologies , 1957 , English edition 1972 ), and in his approach...

myth

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A Dictionary of Critical Theory

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010

...(i.e. the content). Applied to myth, as Lévi-Strauss explains, this logic results in the almost completely opposite view to Jung—now the elements of a myth (the challenges the hero must face, the special powers brought to bear, and so on) can be considered significant only in terms of the combination of their relations with other elements and not for themselves. The specific combination of elements will vary from myth to myth, but the way of producing this combination is unique to myth and universal according to Lévi-Strauss. Myths have the following...

myth

myth  

Dictionary of the Social Sciences

Reference type:
Subject Reference

... Generally refers to stories that contribute to the elaboration of a cosmological system and to a cohesive social identity—e.g., accounts of origins, explanations of values and taboos, and narrative legitimations of authority. Myth is frequently opposed to history —to events that can be dated or located in a chronological relationship to the present. Yet the analysis of mythologies across cultures has shown these to be guidelines rather than rules, and there is a long tradition of debate within anthropology about the place of myth within society. Bronislaw...

myth

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A Dictionary of the Bible (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Religion
Length:
180 words

... In modern parlance, a myth is a * legend or fairy‐story unbelievable and untrue but nevertheless disseminated. It has a more technical meaning in biblical studies and covers those stories or narratives which describe the actions of the other‐worldly in terms of this world, in both OT and NT. In Genesis the * Creation and the * Fall are myths, and are markedly similar to the creation stories of Israel's Near Eastern neighbours. It was a mistake of expositors and preachers in the past to treat these chapters as ‘historical’ accounts of the origin of the...

myth

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A Dictionary of Journalism

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2014
Subject:
Media studies
Length:
202 words

...perennial story about local authorities banning Christmas in favour of ‘Winterval’). Journalists can debunk such myths as well as propagate them. See also stereotyping . http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20716625 ‘Are you never more than 6ft away from a rat?’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/08/winterval-modern-myth-christmas ‘Winterval: the unpalatable making of a modern myth’ http://mediamythalert.wordpress.com/ Media Myth...

Myth

Myth   Reference library

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Religion
Length:
1,021 words

...but Lévi-Strauss was particularly interested in the ways in which myths mediate the binary oppositions which arise in experience (as above). Others, however, have felt that it is the content of myth, not some underlying structure, which reveals universal human preoccupations. For Eliade , myth places events illo tempore , ‘in that (great) time’ of primordial origins, a sacred and ideal time radically separated from the present. Myths make connection with this real and sacred time: myths are themselves sacred for that reason; they are exemplary, offering...

myth

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A Dictionary of Media and Communication (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2020
Subject:
Media studies
Length:
253 words

... [Greek mythos ‘story’] 1. In popular usage, a widespread belief which is untrue, distorted, stereotypical , or romanticized, as in ‘the myth of the American West’. 2. (anthropology) A culture-specific allegorical tale or fable accounting for a natural, supernatural, or sociocultural phenomenon, having sacred status in traditional societies. 3. (functionalism) Any widespread narrative encoding cultural norms and serving to maintain social cohesion . See also cultural transmission . 4. (psychoanalytic theory) Narratives and dreams reflecting...

Myth

Myth   Reference library

J. Nohrnberg

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2017
Subject:
Literature, Literary studies - poetry and poets
Length:
4,435 words

... I. Myth and Society II. Myth and Metaphor III. Mythological Tradition IV. “The Mythical Method” in High Modernism V. Mythological Allusion I. Myth and Society. Everyone knows what a myth is, but perhaps nobody can arrive at a foolproof definition. Myths are universal and ubiquitous, like Pan, but elusive and variable, like Proteus. A myth is a generally received, quasi-authoritative, widely known and relied-upon story, generally independent of a specific author or text, in some sense deathless, unique, tenacious, and recurrent: often a...

Myth

Myth   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to the Bible

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
Religion
Length:
1,501 words

... . A story, usually originally transmitted orally, that has as its main actors superhuman beings and that is typically set in otherworldly time and space. Historians of religion, while often differing on how to interpret any specific myth, tend to agree that all myths, through the use of symbolic language, communicate transcendent meaning within a culture, revealing its cosmic dimensions. In the New Testament, however, Greek mythos (Engl. “myth”) is used negatively to mean an invented story, a rumor, or a fable ( 1 Tim. 1.4 ; 4.7 ; 2 Tim. 4.4 ; Titus ...

myth

myth   Reference library

Oliver Nicholson, Richard Flower, Maria Parani, Ruth Webb, and Michael Roberts

The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2018

... N. G. Wilson , Saint Basil on the Value of Greek Literature (1975). Z. Newby , Greek Myths in Roman Art and Culture: Imagery, Values and Identity in Italy 50 bc – ad 250 (2016). M. Koortbojian , Myth, Meaning, and Memory on Roman Sarcophagi (1993). F. Buffière , Les Mythes d’Homère et la pensée grecque (1956). Lamberton , Homer the Theologian . myth, interpretation of In Late Antiquity, a variety of strategies existed for the interpretation and exegesis of myths, particularly when they were obscure or depicted the gods acting with apparent...

myth

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Oxford Reader's Companion to George Eliot

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2011
Subject:
Literature, Literary studies (19th century)
Length:
762 words

... . Comical as his enterprise seems, Casaubon's ‘Key to all Mythologies’ holds the key to George Eliot's own understanding and use of myths. Although she never defined the term, it seems clear she thinks of a myth as a religious narrative whose meaning has been detached from its creed. As such it is the very embodiment of those universal ideas that, although they have not lost their eternal human significance, can no longer be conceived in their old theological forms. The fact that *Higher Criticism of the Bible, to which Eliot had herself made a significant...

myth

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A Dictionary of Cultural Anthropology

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2018
Subject:
Social sciences, Anthropology
Length:
109 words

...myth [from Greek muthos , ‘story’] A story, often cosmological or supernatural in nature, that communicates about scenarios, conventions, or characters important to a society. Anthropologists since Sir James Frazer have approached myth as a window into a society’s religion and its notions about its origins. Functionalists , among them Bronisław Malinowski , argued that myth defines a normative basis for social relationships and action. Claude Lévi-Strauss later applied structuralism , arguing that myths provide conceptual models and operate...

Cosmic Creation Myth

Cosmic Creation Myth   Reference library

A Dictionary of Creation Myths

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009

...Creation Myth This is a new-age, pseudo-scientific primal egg myth based on the thoughts and writings of philosopher Thomas Berry ( see also Creation from a Cosmic Egg ). It is oriented toward the big bang theory and is contained in a book called The Universe Is a Green Dragon , by physicist Brian Swimme . The book is essentially a Socratic dialogue between Swimme as student and Berry as teacher. It explores the idea of “cosmic allurement,” the cosmic “love” that binds all nature together. …the universe is a green dragon. Green, because the whole...

Etiological myth

Etiological myth   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to World Mythology

...myth Myth has always had an explanatory or etiological aspect. Myths have traditionally “explained” such phenomena as death, the changing of seasons, the passage of the sun and the moon , and the origin of the universe and life itself. The myth of Demeter and Persephone , for instance, may be seen as an etiological myth explaining the existence of the...

myth criticism

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A Dictionary of Critical Theory

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010

... criticism The study of both myths as literature and literature as myths—in the former case, myths are read for their own specific literary merit and as historical precursors to later literary texts (Sophocles' trilogy of plays surrounding the myth of Oedipus would be one example); in the latter case, which has been the more influential of the two approaches, literary texts are read as creative reworkings of myths. A number of prominent scholars have operated in this field: the most notable are Mircea Eliade , Leslie Fiedler , Northrop Frye , René Girard...

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