Myths and Legends
A Look at the Main Types of Mythological Stories
When studying what a myth actually is, scholars struggle to identify an actual definition because there is a high level of similarities between myths across different cultures, dating way back to ancient times. Distant, ancient cultures that were completely separated from each other share similar aspects within their own cultural mythological stories. For example, both Greek and Japanese mythology has stories about men who risked visiting the underworld in order to bring back their dead wives. It is because of this freaky coincidence that certain story patterns have immerged throughout all different types of mythological stories from different cultures. Below is a list of the main types of mythological stories that can be found in any cuture.
- Creation Myths: Some myths revolve around the idea of where the world and its creatures came from. Generally creation myths suggest that the world came from darkness, through the work or magic of a creator or deity.
- Foundation Myths: Myths have been used throughout time by people to explain why a certain powerful person was able to eliminate their enemies, or why a city was built in a certain place, or how a person rose to power.
- Supernatural Beings: Every vein of mythology incorporates some type of supernatural entity. Deities are often used to represent certain human characteristics or aspects of the world or life. There are both good and bad supernatural entities, and they fight amongst themselves, usually involving the humans within the myths.
- Flood Stories: Many streams of mythology have a story about how deities who weren’t happy with the first creation of humans, so they destroyed us, and the world to start over. The myths usually incorporate a flood that wipes out everyone except for one man and one woman.
- End of the World: Myths usually have already had some sort of apocalyptic ending, like a flood, but other myths actually plan for how the world will end.
- Afterlife: Myths usually explain what happens to a person’s soul after the body has died.
- Origins of Humanity: Many mythologies explain human origins, often we are portrayed as a creation or pet of a deity.
- Dawn of Civilisation: Common mythological stories centre around the beginning of humanity, and how gods and supernatural deities were there to help us get started by providing us with fire, ideas and tools.
- Disease and Death: Myths often describe the origins and beginnings of humanity as a time of paradise and utopia, until it is broken through deceit or unhappiness, at which point the deity will take vengeance out on the world. Pandora’s Box is a classic example of this type of myth.
- Cosmogony: Many mythical stories explain how the world, heavens, sea, and underworld were formed at put together, with the sun and moon traveling around them.
Different Creation Myths
As already stated, there are different types of myths, but they all share a simliar set of story lines or details across al cultures. Below is a video of the Egyptian myth of creation.
Egyptian Creation Myth
Most myths across all cultures seem to fall into certain patterns or the above story types. The stories seem to fall into certain categories, regardless of whether the different cultures that the stories and myths came from had any contact with each other at all. Whether they portrayed customs and beliefs, were used to explain aspects of the world or life itself, or were ritualistic or used as allegories, myths have been around for millennia, and still continue to fascinate us today.