What Is Mythology?
The English word, myth, derives from the Greek, muthos
, for a traditional tale.
Some myths were commonly believed to be literally true. Others were probably always told to entertain or teach a lesson.
Some myths were told orally. Others were written down.
Some myths came in a single canonical form. Others had different versions that varied from region to region or evolved over time.
The main quality that lifts a story into the realm of mythology is its importance to the culture in which the story belongs. Myths are the stories a culture tells itself about itself.
Why Study Mythology?
Ancient mythology still resonates in modern times because may of the questions asked by ancient societies have not yet been adequately answered. Masked in the language of heroes, gods, and monsters, we can learn what a culture believed about the nature of the universe and what it means to be a human being.
Often, the search for answers is part of a conversation we're still having in the modern age. We may even be able to trace an idea from the mythology of ancient times through history, philosophy, art, and literature to thriving counterparts in the present day.
We also study mythology because much of it is cool, or weird, or just plain fun.
Kinds of Mythology
Mythologists study the mythologies of cultures from all over the world. The initial focus of this site is Greek and Roman mythology
, but we plan to expand over time to cover additional cultures of North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.