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Myth as a Precursor to History - Essay Example

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Myth as a Precursor to History

History is something different altogether, history is not used to explain natural phenomenon's or uncover aspects of daily life. History is fact that typically cannot be augured. It has evidence, it is fact.
Ken Dowden states "History is what myth isn't.What history tells is true or else it would not be history, only failed history. What myth tells us is in some way false or it would be history"2 Myths can be said to have graduations of credibility, Dowden uses the example of the myth of Athena being born from Zeus head and compares it to Agamemnon's expedition to Troy to show that there are different levels of credibility in myth. As obviously there was never a women born from a man's head. Yet it is suggested that there was a Trojan War and Agamemnon's expedition to Troy has a place in history. In the example of Dowdens, we can see that myth can be a herald to history, as many believed that Homer's epic poem, The Iliad, was based not on a historical reality, but on mythical heroes. Heinrich Schliemann held a different view, believing in Homers war, he combined studies of Homeric text and fieldwork and published observations about Mycenae and the location of Troy in 1869.Although Schliemann's arcelogical techniques were brought under criticism by many, ("Schliemann's excavations at Troy were not a good model of archaeological technique. Only solid structures were noticed and recorded, and they were rapidly demolished to reveal earlier features."3) Schliemann's aim was to identify the geographic setting of Homers Iliad only from literature and he brought the Greek Bronze Age and its antecedents to light for the first time. Not content with his identification of Troy, he also dug at Mycenae and revealed an unknown prehistoric civilization. The Japanese creation myth started out with the earth being a formless void of nothing but muddy water. From that water a green shoot sprung and inside it was the first god, who made all the other gods. Out of all he created though, Izagami and Izanami were the most perfect. The islands of Japan were formed when Izagami poked his staff through the clouds to see what was on the surface of the earth. As he lifted the staff from the muddy water, clumps of mud fell on top of the water and formed into the islands of Japan. The pair went down to the earth, and everywhere they went, flowers and plants sprouted. They had four children. One was the sun, one was the moon, one lived in the water and created storms and such, and from the fourth, the line of the emperors of Japan was established. In the Egyptian creation myth, most of the details are very similar to the Japanese myth. The world starts out covered in water, from one god all the others are created, and two of the gods, Osiris and Isis, sort of led all the rest. From them came all the rulers of Egypt, just like how in the Japanese myth Izanami and Izagami had a child who eventually had a child who was the first emperor of Japan. In the African origin myth of how leopards became spotted, the leopard invites fire over for dinner.  ...Show more

Summary

This essay describes how myth is a precursor to history. The myth is now generally applied to fiction, yet in ancient Greece, it was used to define many aspects of there life and it can be used to uncover areas of Greek history, culture and experience…
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Myth as a Precursor to History essay example
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