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Myth

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"Mythos" redirects here. For other uses, see Myth (disambiguation) and Mythos
(disambiguation).
"Mythology" redirects here. For other uses, see Mythology (disambiguation).

Most cultures across the globe have some form of mythology.


Mythology
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See also
Religion and mythology Comparative religion Symbolism Theology
List of mythologies
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Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in
society, such as foundational tales. The main characters in myths are usually gods,
demigods or supernatural humans.[1][2][3] Myths are often endorsed by rulers and
priests and are closely linked to religion or spirituality.[1] In fact, many
societies group their myths, legends and history together, considering myths to be
true accounts of their remote past.[1][2][4][5] Creation myths particularly, take
place in a primordial age when the world had not achieved its later form.[1][6][7]
Other myths explain how a society's customs, institutions and taboos were
established and sanctified.[1][7] There is a complex relationship between recital
of myths and enactment of rituals.

The study of myth began in ancient history. Rival classes of the Greek myths by
Euhemerus, Plato and Sallustius were developed by the Neoplatonists and later
revived by Renaissance mythographers. Today, the study of myth continues in a wide
variety of academic fields, including folklore studies, philology, and psychology.
The term mythology may either refer to the study of myths in general, or a body of
myths regarding a particular subject. The academic comparisons of bodies of myth is
known as comparative mythology.

Contents
1 Definitions
1.1 Myth
1.2 Mythology
1.3 Mythography
1.4 Mythos
1.5 Mythopoeia
2 Origins of the terms myth and mythology
2.1 Meanings in Ancient Greece
3 Interpreting myths
3.1 Comparative mythology
3.2 Functionalism
3.3 Euhemerism
3.4 Allegory
3.5 Personification
3.6 Myth-ritual theory
4 History of the academic discipline
4.1 Ancient Greece
4.2 European Renaissance
4.3 Nineteenth century
4.4 Twentieth century
4.5 Twenty-first century
5 Modern mythology
6 See also
7 Notes
8 References
9 External links
Definitions

Ballads of bravery (1877) part of Arthurian mythology


See also: Religion and mythology
Myth
Definitions of myth to some extent vary by scholar. Finnish folklorist Lauri Honko
offers a widely cited definition:

Myth, a story of the gods, a religious account of the beginning of the world, the
creation, fundamental events, the exemplary deeds of the gods as a result of which
the world, nature and culture were created together with all parts thereof and
given their order, which still obtains. A myth expresses and confirms society's
religious values and norms, it provides a pattern of behavior to be imitated,
testifies to the efficacy of ritual with its practical ends and establishes the
sanctity of cult.[8]

Scholars in other fields use the term myth in varied ways.[9][10][11] In a broad
sense, the word can refer to any traditional story,[12][13][14] popular
misconception or imaginary entity.[15]

However, while myth and other folklore genres may overlap, myth is often thought to
differ from genres such as legend and folktale in that neither are considered to be
sacred narratives.[16][17] Some kinds of folktales, such as fairy stories, are not
considered true by anyone, and may be seen as distinct from myths for this reason.
[18][19][20] Main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods or supernatural
humans,[1][2][3] while legends generally feature humans as their main characters.
[1] However, many exceptions or combinations exist, as in the Iliad, Odyssey and
Aeneid.[21][22] Moreover, as stories spread between cultures or as faiths change,
myths can come to be considered folktales, their divine characters recast as either
as humans or demihumans such as giants, elves and faeries.[2][23][24] Conversely,
historical and literary material may acquire mythological qualities over time. For
example, the Matter of Britain (the legendary history of Great Britain, especially
those focused on King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table)[25] and the Matter
of France, seem distantly to originate in historical events of the fifth and
eighth-centuries respectively, and became mythologised over the following
centuries.

In colloquial use, the word myth can also be used of a collectively held belief
that has no basis in fact, or any false story.[26] This usage, which is often
pejorative,[27] arose from labeling the religious myths and beliefs of other
cultures as incorrect, but it has spread to cover non-religious beliefs as well.
[28] However, as commonly used by folklorists and academics in other relevant
fields, such as anthropology, the term myth has no implication whether the
narrative may be understood as true or otherwise.[29]

Since the term myth is widely used to imply that a story is not objectively true,
the identification of a narrative as a myth can be highly political: many adherents
of religions view their religion's stories as true and therefore object to the
stories being characterised as myths. Nevertheless, scholars now routinely speak of
Christian mythology, Jewish mythology, Islamic mythology, Hindu mythology, and so
forth. Traditionally, Western scholarship, with its Judaeo-Christian heritage, has
viewed narratives in the Abrahamic religions as being the province of theology
rather than mythology; meanwhile, identifying religious stories of colonised
cultures, such as stories in Hinduism, as myths enabled Western scholars to imply
that they were of lower truth-value than the stories of Christianity. Labelling all
religious narratives as myths can be thought of as treating different traditions
with parity.[30]

Mythology
In present use, mythology usually refers to the collected myths of a group of
people, but may also mean the study of such myths.[31] For example, Greek
mythology, Roman mythology and Hittite mythology all describe the body of myths
retold among those cultures. Folklorist Alan Dundes defines myth as a sacred
narrative that explains how the world and humanity evolved into their present form.
Dundes classified a sacred narrative as "a story that serves to define the
fundamental worldview of a culture by explaining aspects of the natural world and
delineating the psychological and social practices and ideals of a society".[32]
Anthropologist Bruce Lincoln defines myth as "ideology in narrative form."[33][34]

Mythography
The compilation or description of myths is sometimes known as mythography, a term
which can also be used of a scholarly anthology of myths (or, confusingly, of the
study of myths generally).[35] Key mythographers in the Classical tradition include
Ovid (43 BCE�17/18 CE), whose tellings of myths have been profoundingly
influential; Fabius Planciades Fulgentius, a Latin writer of the late fifth to
early sixth centuries, whose Mythologies (Latin: Mitologiarum libri III) gathered
and gave moralistic interpretations of a wide range of myths; the anonymous
medieval Vatican Mythographers, who developed anthologies of Classical myths that
remained influential to the end of the Middle Ages; and the Renaissance scholar
Natalis Comes, whose ten-book Mythologiae became a standard source for classical
mythology in later Renaissance Europe.[36] Other prominent mythographies include
the thirteenth-century Prose Edda attributed to the Icelander Snorri Sturluson,
which is the main surviving survey of Norse Mythology from the Middle Ages.

Mythos
Because myth is sometimes used in a pejorative sense, some scholars have opted to
use the term mythos instead.[32] However, mythos now more commonly refers to its
Aristotelian sense as a "plot point" or to 'a body of interconnected myths or
stories, esp[ecially] those belonging to a particular religious or cultural
tradition'.[37] It is sometimes used specifically for modern, fictional
mythologies, such as the world building of H.P. Lovecraft.

Mythopoeia
Main article: Mythopoeia
"Conscious generation" of mythology was termed mythopoeia by, amongst others,
J.R.R. Tolkien.[38][39] It was notoriously also suggested, separately, by Nazi
ideologist Alfred Rosenberg.

Origins of the terms myth and mythology

Odysseus Overcome by Demodocus' Song, by Francesco Hayez, 1813�15


The word myth comes from Ancient Greek �???? [m?thos], meaning 'speech, narrative,
fiction, myth, plot'. In Anglicised form, this Greek word began to be used in
English (and was likewise adapted into other European languages) in the early
nineteenth century, in a much narrower sense, as a scholarly term for 'a
traditional story, typically involving supernatural beings or forces, which
embodies and provides an explanation, aetiology, or justification for something
such as the early history of a society, a religious belief or ritual, or a natural
phenomenon'.[40]

In turn, Ancient Greek �???????a [mytholog�a] ("story," "lore," "legends," "the


telling of stories") combines the word m?thos with the suffix -????a [-logia]
("study"), and meant 'romance, fiction, story-telling'.[41] Accordingly, Plato used
mytholog�a as a general term for "fiction" or "story-telling" of any kind.
The Greek term mytholog�a was then borrowed into Latin. Late Latin mythologia,
which occurs in the title of Latin author Fulgentius' fifth-century Mythologi�,
denoted the explication of Greek and Roman stories about their gods, which we now
call classical mythology. Fulgentius's Mythologi� explicitly treated its subject
matter as allegories requiring interpretation and not as true events.[42]

The Latin term was then adopted in Middle French as mythologie. Whether from French
or Latin usage, English adopted the word "mythology" in the fifteenth century, at
first in the sense 'the exposition of a myth or myths; the interpretation of
fables; a book of such expositions'. The word is first attested in John Lydgate's
Troy Book of c. 1425.[43][45][46]

From Lydgate until the seventeenth or eighteenth-century, mythology was used to


mean a moral, fable, allegory or a parable, or collection of traditional stories,
[43][48] understood to be false. It came eventually to be applied to similar bodies
of traditional stories among other polytheistic cultures around the world.[43]

Thus the word mythology entered the English language before the word "myth";
Johnson's Dictionary, for example, has an entry for mythology, but not for myth.
[51] Indeed, the Greek loanword mythos[53] (pl. mythoi) and Latinate mythus[55]
(pl. mythi) both appeared in English before the first example of myth in 1830.[58]

Meanings in Ancient Greece


The term �???? (mythos) appears in the works of Homer and other poets of Homer's
era.[59] In these works, the term had several meanings: conversation, narrative,
speech, story, tale, and word.

Like the related term ????? (logos), mythos expresses whatever can be delivered in
the form of words; these can be contrasted with ????? (ergon), a Greek term for
action, deed, and work.[59] The term mythos lacks an explicit distinction between
true or false narratives.[59]

In the context of the theatre of ancient Greece, the term mythos referred to the
myth, the narrative, the plot, and the story of a play.[60] According to David
Wiles, the Greek term mythos in this era covered an entire spectrum of different
meanings, from undeniable falsehoods to stories with religious and symbolic
significance.[60]

According to philosopher Aristotle (384�322 BCE), the spirit of a theatrical play


was its mythos.[60] The term mythos was also used for the source material of Greek
tragedy. The tragedians of the era could draw inspiration from Greek mythology, a
body of "traditional storylines" which concerned gods and heroes.[60] David Wiles
observes that modern conceptions about Greek tragedy can be misleading. It is
commonly thought that the ancient audience members were already familiar with the
mythos behind a play, and could predict the outcome of the play. However, the Greek
dramatists were not expected to faithfully reproduce traditional myths when
adapting them for the stage. They were instead recreating the myths and producing
new versions.[60] Storytellers like Euripides (c. 480�406 BCE) relied on suspense
to excite their audiences. In one of his works, Merope attempts to kill her son's
murderer with an axe, unaware that the man in question is actually her son.
According to an ancient description of audience reactions to this work, the
audience members were genuinely unsure of whether she would commit filicide or she
will be stopped in time. They rose to their feet in terror and caused an uproar.
[60]

David Wiles points that the traditional mythos of Ancient Greece, was primarily a
part of its oral tradition. The Greeks of this era were a literate culture, but
produced no sacred texts. There were no definitive or authoritative versions of
myths recorded in texts and preserved forever in an unchanging form.[61] Instead
multiple variants of myths were in circulation. These variants were adapted into
songs, dances, poetry, and visual art. Performers of myths could freely reshape
their source material for a new work, adapting it to the needs of a new audience or
in response to a new situation.[61]

Children in Ancient Greece were familiar with traditional myths from an early age.
According to the philosopher Plato (c. 428�347 BCE), mothers and nursemaids
narrated myths and stories to the children in their charge: David Wiles describes
them as a repository of mythological lore.[61]

Bruce Lincoln has called attention to the apparent meaning of the terms mythos and
logos in the works of Hesiod. In Theogony, Hesiod attributes to the Muses the
ability to both proclaim truths and narrate plausible falsehoods (falsehoods which
seem like real things).[62] The verb used for narrating the falsehoods in the text
is legein, which is etymologically associated with logos. There are two variants in
the manuscript tradition for the verb used to proclaim truths. One variant uses
gerusasthai, the other mythesasthai. The latter is a form of the verb mytheomai (to
speak, to tell), which is etymologically associated with mythos.[62] In the Works
and Days, Hesiod describes his dispute with his brother Perses. He also announces
to his readers his intention to tell true things to his brother. The verb he uses
for telling the truth is mythesaimen, another form of mytheomai.[62]

Lincoln draws the conclusion that Hesiod associated the "speech of mythos" (as
Lincoln calls it) with telling the truth. While he associated the "speech of logos"
with telling lies, and hiding one's true thoughts (dissimulation).[62] This
conclusion is strengthened by the use of the plural term logoi (the plural form of
logos) elsewhere in Hesiod's works. Three times the term is associated with the
term "seductive" and three times with the term "falsehoods".[62] In his genealogy
of the gods, Hesiod lists logoi among the children of Eris, the goddess
personifying strife. Eris' children are ominous figures, which personify various
physical and verbal forms of conflict.[62]

Interpreting myths
Comparative mythology
Main article: Comparative mythology
Comparative mythology is the systematic comparison of myths from different
cultures. It seeks to discover underlying themes that are common to the myths of
multiple cultures. In some cases, comparative mythologists use the similarities
between separate mythologies to argue that those mythologies have a common source.
This source may inspire myths or provide a common "protomythology" that diverged
into the mythologies of each culture.[63]

Functionalism
A number of commentators have argued that myths function to form and shape society
and social behaviour. Eliade argued that one of the foremost functions of myth is
to establish models for behavior[64][65] and that myths may provide a religious
experience. By telling or reenacting myths, members of traditional societies detach
themselves from the present, returning to the mythical age, thereby coming closer
to the divine.[4][65][66]

Honko asserted that, in some cases, a society reenacts a myth in an attempt to


reproduce the conditions of the mythical age. For example, it might reenact the
healing performed by a god at the beginning of time in order to heal someone in the
present.[8] Similarly, Barthes argued that modern culture explores religious
experience. Since it is not the job of science to define human morality, a
religious experience is an attempt to connect with a perceived moral past, which is
in contrast with the technological present.[67]
Pattanaik defines mythology as "a subjective truth of people that is communicated
through stories, symbols and rituals". He adds, "unlike fantasy that is nobody�s
truth, and history that seeks to be everybody�s truth, mythology is somebody�s
truth."[68]

Euhemerism
Main article: Euhemerism
See also: Herodotus
One theory claims that myths are distorted accounts of historical events.[69][70]
According to this theory, storytellers repeatedly elaborate upon historical
accounts until the figures in those accounts gain the status of gods.[69][70] For
example, the myth of the wind-god Aeolus may have evolved from a historical account
of a king who taught his people to use sails and interpret the winds.[69] Herodotus
(fifth-century BCE) and Prodicus made claims of this kind.[70] This theory is named
euhemerism after mythologist Euhemerus (c. 320 BCE), who suggested that Greek gods
developed from legends about human beings.[70][71]

Allegory
Some theories propose that myths began as allegories for natural phenomena: Apollo
represents the sun, Poseidon represents water, and so on.[70] According to another
theory, myths began as allegories for philosophical or spiritual concepts: Athena
represents wise judgment, Aphrodite desire, and so on.[70] M�ller supported an
allegorical theory of myth. He believed myths began as allegorical descriptions of
nature and gradually came to be interpreted literally. For example, a poetic
description of the sea as "raging" was eventually taken literally and the sea was
then thought of as a raging god.[72]

Personification
See also: Mythopoeic thought
Some thinkers claimed that myths result from the personification of objects and
forces. According to these thinkers, the ancients worshiped natural phenomena, such
as fire and air, gradually deifying them.[73] For example, according to this
theory, ancients tended to view things as gods, not as mere objects.[74] Thus, they
described natural events as acts of personal gods, giving rise to myths.[75]

Myth-ritual theory
See also: Myth and ritual
According to the myth-ritual theory, myth is tied to ritual.[76] In its most
extreme form, this theory claims myths arose to explain rituals.[77] This claim was
first put forward by Smith,[78] who argued that people begin performing rituals for
reasons not related to myth. Forgetting the original reason for a ritual, they
account for it by inventing a myth and claiming the ritual commemorates the events
described in that myth.[79] Frazer claimed that humans started out with a belief in
magical rituals; later, they began to lose faith in magic and invented myths about
gods, reinterpreting their rituals as religious rituals intended to appease the
gods.[80]

History of the academic discipline


Historically, important approaches to the study of mythology have included those of
Vico, Schelling, Schiller, Jung, Freud, L�vy-Bruhl, L�vi-Strauss, Frye, the Soviet
school, and the Myth and Ritual School.[81]

Ancient Greece

Myths and legends of Babylonia and Assyria (1916)


The critical interpretation of myth began with the Presocratics.[82] Euhemerus was
one of the most important pre-modern mythologists. He interpreted myths as accounts
of actual historical events � distorted over many retellings. Sallustius[83]
divided myths into five categories � theological, physical (or concerning natural
laws), animistic (or concerning soul), material, and mixed. Mixed concerns myths
that show the interaction between two or more of the previous categories and are
particularly used in initiations.

Plato famously condemned poetic myth when discussing education in the Republic. His
critique was primarily on the grounds that the uneducated might take the stories of
gods and heroes literally. Nevertheless, he constantly referred to myths throughout
his writings. As Platonism developed in the phases commonly called Middle Platonism
and neoplatonism, writers such as Plutarch, Porphyry, Proclus, Olympiodorus, and
Damascius wrote explicitly about the symbolic interpretation of traditional and
Orphic myths.[84]

Mythological themes were consciously employed in literature, beginning with Homer.


The resulting work may expressly refer to a mythological background without itself
becoming part of a body of myths (Cupid and Psyche). Medieval romance in particular
plays with this process of turning myth into literature. Euhemerism, as stated
earlier, refers to the rationalization of myths, putting themes formerly imbued
with mythological qualities into pragmatic contexts. An example of this would be
following a cultural or religious paradigm shift (notably the re-interpretation of
pagan mythology following Christianization).

European Renaissance
The ancient Roman poet Ovid, in his "The Metamorphoses," told the story of the
nymph Io who was seduced by Jupiter, the king of the gods. When his wife Juno
became jealous, Jupiter transformed Io into a heifer to protect her. This panel
relates the second half of the story. In the upper left, Jupiter emerges from
clouds to order Mercury to rescue Io. In the lower left, Mercury guides his herd to
the spot where Io is guarded by the hundred-eyed Argus. In the upper center,
Mercury, disguised as a shepherd, lulls Argus to sleep and beheads him. Juno then
takes Argus's eyes to ornament the tail feathers of her peacock and sends the
Furies to pursue Io, who flees to the Nile River. At last, Jupiter prevails on his
wife to cease tormenting the nymph, who, upon resuming her natural form, escapes to
the forest and ultimately becomes the Egyptian goddess Isis
This panel by Bartolomeo di Giovanni relates the second half of the Metamorphoses.
In the upper left, Jupiter emerges from clouds to order Mercury to rescue Io.[85]
[86]
Interest in polytheistic mythology revived during the Renaissance, with early works
of mythography appearing in the sixteenth century, among them the Theologia
Mythologica (1532).

Nineteenth century
The first modern, Western scholarly theories of myth appeared during the second
half of the nineteenth century[82] � at the same time as the word myth was adopted
as a scholarly term in European languages.[40] They were driven partly by a new
interest in Europe's ancient past and vernacular culture, associated with Romantic
Nationalism and epitomised by the research of Jacob Grimm (1785�1863). This
movement drew European scholars' attention not only to Classical myths, but also
material now associated with Norse mythology, Finnish mythology, and so forth.
Western theories were also partly driven by Europeans' efforts to comprehend and
control the cultures, stories and religions they were encountering through
colonialism. These encounters included both extremely old texts such as the
Sanskrit Rigveda and the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, and current oral narratives
such as mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas or stories told in
traditional African religions.[87]

The intellectual context for nineteenth-century scholars was profoundly shaped by


emerging ideas about evolution. These ideas included the recognition that many
Eurasian languages�and therefore, conceivably, stories�were all descended from a
lost common ancestor (the Indo-European language) which could rationally be
reconstructed through the comparison of its descendant languages. They also
included the idea that cultures might evolve in ways comparable to species.[87] In
general, nineteenth-century theories framed myth as a failed or obsolete mode of
thought, often by interpreting myth as the primitive counterpart of modern science
within a unilineal framework that imagined that human cultures are travelling, at
different speeds, along a linear path of cultural development.[88]

One of the dominant mythological theories of the later nineteenth century was
"nature mythology", whose foremost exponents included Max M�ller and Edward Burnett
Tylor. This theory posited that "primitive man" was primarily concerned with the
natural world. It tended to interpret myths that seemed distasteful European
Victorians�for example tales about sex, incest, or cannibalism�as being metaphors
for natural phenomena like agricultural fertility.[89] Unable to conceive
impersonal natural laws, early humans tried to explain natural phenomena by
attributing souls to inanimate objects, giving rise to animism. According to Tylor,
human thought evolved through stages, starting with mythological ideas and
gradually progressing to scientific ideas.[90] M�ller also saw myth arising from
language, even calling myth a "disease of language". He speculated that myths arose
due to the lack of abstract nouns and neuter gender in ancient languages.
Anthropomorphic figures of speech, necessary in such languages, were eventually
taken literally, leading to the idea that natural phenomena were in actuality
conscious beings or gods.[72] Not all scholars, not even all nineteenth-century
scholars, accepted this view. Lucien L�vy-Bruhl claimed "the primitive mentality is
a condition of the human mind, and not a stage in its historical development."[91]
Recent scholarship, noting the fundamental lack of evidence for "nature mythology"
interpretations among people who actually circulated myths, has likewise abandoned
the key ideas of "nature mythology".[92][93]

James George Frazer saw myths as a misinterpretation of magical rituals, which were
themselves based on a mistaken idea of natural law: this idea was central to the
"myth and ritual" school of thought.[94] According to Frazer, humans begin with an
unfounded belief in impersonal magical laws. When they realize applications of
these laws do not work, they give up their belief in natural law in favor of a
belief in personal gods controlling nature, thus giving rise to religious myths.
Meanwhile, humans continue practicing formerly magical rituals through force of
habit, reinterpreting them as reenactments of mythical events. Finally humans come
to realize nature follows natural laws, and they discover their true nature through
science. Here again, science makes myth obsolete as humans progress "from magic
through religion to science."[80]

Segal asserted that by pitting mythical thought against modern scientific thought,
such theories imply modern humans must abandon myth.[95]

Twentieth century

Prometheus (1868) by Gustave Moreau. In the mythos of Hesiodus and possibly


Aeschylus (the Greek trilogy Prometheus Bound, Prometheus Unbound and Prometheus
Pyrphoros), Prometheus is bound and tortured for giving fire to humanity
The earlier twentieth century saw major work developing psychoanalytical approaches
to interpreting myth, led by Sigmund Freud, who, drawing inspiration from Classical
myth, began developing the concept of the Oedipus complex in his 1899 The
Interpretation of Dreams. Jung likwise tried to understand the psychology behind
world myths. Jung asserted that all humans share certain innate unconscious
psychological forces, which he called archetypes. He believed similarities between
the myths of different cultures reveals the existence of these universal
archetypes.[96]

The mid-twentieth century saw the influential development of a structuralist theory


of mythology, led by L�vi-Strauss. Strauss argued that myths reflect patterns in
the mind and interpreted those patterns more as fixed mental structures,
specifically pairs of opposites (good/evil, compassionate/callous), rather than
unconscious feelings or urges.[97] Meanwhile, Bronislaw Malinowski developed
analyses of myths focusing on their social functions in the real world. He is
associated with the idea that myths such as origin stories might provide a "mythic
charter"�a legitimisation�for cultural norms and social institutions.[98] Thus,
following the Structuralist Era (roughly the 1960s to 1980s), the predominant
anthropological and sociological approaches to myth increasingly treated myth as a
form of narrative that can be studied, interpreted and analyzed like ideology,
history and culture. In other words, myth is a form of understanding and telling
stories that is connected to power, political structures, and political and
economic interests. These approaches contrast with approaches such as those of
Joseph Campbell and Eliade that hold that myth has some type of essential
connection to ultimate sacred meanings that transcend cultural specifics. In
particular, myth was studied in relation to history from diverse social sciences.
Most of these studies share the assumption that history and myth are not distinct
in the sense that history is factual, real, accurate, and truth, while myth is the
opposite.

In the 1950s, Barthes published a series of essays examining modern myths and the
process of their creation in his book Mythologies, which stood as an early work in
the emerging post-structuralist approach to mythology, which recognised myths'
existence in the modern world and in popular culture.[99]

The twentieth century saw rapid secularisation in Western culture. This made
Western scholars more willing to analyse narratives in the Abrahamic religions as
myths; theologians such as Rudolf Bultmann argued that a modern Christianity needed
to demythologize;[100] and other religious scholars embraced the idea that the
mythical status of Abrahamic narratives was a legitimate feature of their
importance.[95] This, in his appendix to Myths, Dreams and Mysteries, and in The
Myth of the Eternal Return, Eliade attributed modern humans� anxieties to their
rejection of myths and the sense of the sacred.[citation needed] The Christian
theologian Conrad Hyers wrote that

...myth today has come to have negative connotations which are the complete
opposite of its meaning in a religious context... In a religious context, however,
myths are storied vehicles of supreme truth, the most basic and important truths of
all. By them people regulate and interpret their lives and find worth and purpose
in their existence. Myths put one in touch with sacred realities, the fundamental
sources of being, power, and truth. They are seen not only as being the opposite of
error but also as being clearly distinguishable from stories told for entertainment
and from the workaday, domestic, practical language of a people. They provide
answers to the mysteries of being and becoming, mysteries which, as mysteries, are
hidden, yet mysteries which are revealed through story and ritual. Myths deal not
only with truth but with ultimate truth.[101]