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An Introduction to Mythology

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Magic and Religion.

Lastly, he would plead for a kindly consideration of his own system of mythological elucidation—the eclectic, embracing all he thinks best in other systems, whereas it is the bane of most writers upon mythology and allied subjects that the[Pg 7] pride of some one theory is strong in them. If it be asked how one is to be certain of selecting the best from each system, the answer is that one must walk in these caverns by the light of one's own common sense.

It is hoped that the comparative tables will be found of use to students. Much care has been taken in compiling them, but it is not claimed that they are in any way exhaustive.

L.S.

[Pg 8]


[Books which Mr Spence refers to that are already available at PG are:

Creation [Myths] of Primitive America by Jeremiah Curtin — http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/39106
Folklore as an Historical Science by G. Laurence Gomme — http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/21852
The Evolution of the Dragon by George Elliot Smith — http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/22038 — mdh]


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CONTENTS

INDEX

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[Pg 11]

AN INTRODUCTION TO MYTHOLOGY


CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY


The function of mythology is the investigation and explanation of myths or tales relating to the early religious and scientific experiences of mankind. It throws light upon the material, methods, and progress of primitive religion and science, for many myths are an attempt to explain physical as well as religious phenomena.

Myth is one of the great objects of the science of 'tradition' (Lat. 'that which is handed down'), the others, with which myth is only too frequently confounded, being folklore and legend. It is hoped that the following list of definitions will prove of value to students of the subject, as it is certainly the most precise and embracive yet advanced.[1]

DEFINITIONS

Myth, folk-tale, and legend may be generally defined as traditional forms of narrative. That is, all are embraced within the term 'tradition.'

Myth. A myth is an account of the deeds of a god or[Pg 12] supernatural being, usually expressed in terms of primitive thought. It is an attempt to explain the relations of man to the universe, and it has for those who recount it a predominantly religious value; or it may have arisen to 'explain' the existence of some social organization, a custom, or the peculiarities of an environment.

Mythology. Mythology as a term implies (a) the mythic system of any race; (b) the investigation of myth.

Folklore. Folklore means the study of


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