Mythology

Download A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong PDF

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By Karen Armstrong

"Human beings have regularly been mythmakers.” So starts best-selling author Karen Armstrong’s concise but compelling research into fantasy: what it's, the way it has developed, and why we nonetheless so desperately want it. She takes us from the Paleolithic interval and the myths of the hunters correct as much as the "Great Western Transformation” of the final years and the discrediting of fantasy by way of technological know-how. The heritage of fable is the background of humanity, our tales and ideology, our interest and makes an attempt to appreciate the realm, which hyperlink us to our ancestors and every different. Heralding an important sequence of retellings of overseas myths through authors from around the globe, Armstrong’s generally insightful and eloquent booklet serves as an excellent and thought-provoking creation to delusion within the broadest sense—and explains why if we brush off it, we accomplish that at our peril.

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All these myths speak of a struggle to the death. In the old heroic myths dating from the Palaeolithic age, it was usually a male hero who set forth on a dangerous journey to bring help to his people. After the Neolithic revolution, the males are often helpless and passive. It is the female goddess who wanders through the world on a quest, who struggles with death, and brings nourishment to the human race. The Earth Mother becomes a symbol of female heroism, in myths that speak ultimately of balance and restored harmony.

People experienced the sacred power of Baal in every rainstorm; they felt the force of Indra every time they were possessed by the transcendent fury of battle. But the old Sky Gods did not touch people’s lives at all. This very early development makes it clear that mythology will not succeed if it concentrates on the supernatural; it will only remain vital if it is primarily concerned with humanity. The fate of the Sky God reminds us of another popular misconception. It is often assumed that the early myths gave people in the pre-scientific world information about the origin of the cosmos.

When she is reunited with her mother, Demeter lifts the ban, and the earth becomes fruitful once again. This is not a simple nature allegory. The rites of Demeter did not coincide with either the sowing or the harvest. Persephone may descend into the earth, like a seed, but in the Mediterranean a seed takes only a few weeks to germinate, not four months. Like the myth of Inanna, this is another story of a goddess who disappears and returns. It is a myth about death. In ancient Greece, Demeter, the grain goddess, is also Mistress of the Dead, and presides over the mystery cult at Eleusis, near Athens.

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