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An Introduction to Mythology

Page: 14

THE CLASSIFICATION OF MYTH

It has been said that the chief divisions of myth correspond to the chief problems which the universe presents to the curiosity of untutored man. Thus we find that most myths will fall under such heads as the origin of the world, the origin of man, the origin of the arts of life, star myths, sun and moon myths, myths of death, myths of fire-stealing, hero myths (including tales of the adventures of demigods), myths regarding taboo, beast myths, myths of journeys through the Underworld or Otherworld, myths to account for customs or rites, and other less important varieties.

THE DISTRIBUTION OF MYTH

This is a good place to discuss the vexed question whether all myths have sprung from one common centre, or whether each one is the spontaneous creation of man's brain in separate parts of the world.

[Pg 36]

Both theories possess a measure of truth, for certain tales have undoubtedly been widely disseminated, some of them being altered by foreign influence, while certain others are obviously of spontaneous growth. Examples of widely disseminated stories are readily encountered. The solar hero, who as son of the sun comes to earth to instruct men in the arts of life, and after a strenuous mundane career returns to his father's bright kingdom, is common to Greeks, Celts, Teutons, and Red Indians.


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