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Encyclopedia > Contemporary mythology

Contemporary mythology, also called contemporary parable, is a recently developed term to describe modern stories which resemble, either in content or in cultural significance, traditional mythology such as Greek Mythology or religious stories. In the same way that ancient mythology provided explanations of the world and its origins, contemporary mythology provides modern people with a metaphorical language which helps us to explore, share, and understand our perceptions of the world. It also provides common reference points to facilitate discussion of social and philosophical ideas. The term is often applied to stories of the fantasy and science fiction genres. The word mythology (from the Greek μυϑολογία mythología, from μυϑολογειν mythologein to relate myths, from μυϑος mythos, meaning a narrative, and λογος logos, meaning speech or argument) literally means the (oral) retelling of myths – stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use the supernatural to interpret natural events and... Greek mythology comprises the collected narratives of Greek gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines, originally created and spread within an oral-poetic tradition. ... The origins of the word religion have been debated for centuries. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ...

The term is also used to describe the internal rules or conceits employed by a particular story or fictional "world". As a prominent example, the fictional world of Star Wars has detailed rules, history, population, physics, religion, etc. All of these make up the contemporary mythology of the Star Wars universe. Star Wars began with a 13-page treatment for a space adventure movie which George Lucas drafted in 1973, inspired from multiple myths and classic stories. ...

Ancient myths expressed the values and used the symbols of the ancient cultures in which they evolved. For example, defining the Greek god Zeus as the "king of the gods" reflected the structure of a society ruled by kings; identifying Zeus as also the "father of the gods" reflected the common assumption that a king was in a sense a father of his people in those patriarchal societies. Since our values, symbols, and understanding of the physical world have significantly changed over time, many find it natural that contemporary mythology is more understandable and relevant to modern people. Statue of Zeus Phidias created the 12-m (40-ft) tall statue of Zeus at Olympia about 435 BC. The statue was perhaps the most famous sculpture in ancient Greece, imagined here in a 16th-century engraving. ...

Though many ancient myths still have great resonance, contemporary mythology is more likely to be connected to common cultural experiences. Put simply, more people in America have seen the Star Wars movies than are familiar with the stories of Greek mythology. Whereas the values represented in religious myths may seem outdated and distant, or may have negative connotations to particular individuals, the same people can use the spiritual struggles depicted in Star Wars to discuss and understand their own experience in the world.

There is considerable evidence that at least some ancient people considered their myths to be true (i.e. the Gods were real and had actually done those things detailed in mythic stories) in the same way that religious myths are often believed be true today. In contrast, contemporary mythology is usually understood to be fiction and metaphorical.

Contemporary myths are often re-creations or reinterpretations of ancient myths. For example, the ancient myth of the Vampire now exists in narratives such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which many consider a contemporary myth. It is also common for contemporary mythology to employ some of the same symbols used in ancient myths. For example, in ancient mythology it was common for a person to employ an animal mask to take on the spirit and energy of that animal. In a contemporary myth such as the superhero story of Batman, the hero uses a mask and costume to endow himself with the power and iconic force of that animal. The same is illustrated in the Spider-Man comics where, aside from himself, many of the characters have an animal motif like Doctor Octopus, The Scorpion, The Lizard and The Chameleon. Similarly, the well known story of Superman echoes the ancient myth of a Changeling (specifically resembling Hercules), a non-human child who was raised by humans and grew to become their champion. Many super-hero stories can be included in the category of contemporary parable. The same comparisons appear in Science Fiction. Star Trek has been described as a futuristic version of the Odyssey combined with the American notion of the frontier. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer was a U.S. television series based on the original script for the 1992 movie of the same name. ... Masks in a Guatemalan Market A teenager reading a book, while wearing a dinosaur mask A mask is a piece of material or kit worn on the face. ... Superman (left) and Batman, two of the most recognizable and influential superheroes. ... The comic book character Batman, originally and still sometimes referred to as The Batman, is a fictional character who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939. ... Spider-Man swinging around his hometown, New York City. ... Superman, nicknamed The Man of Steel, is a fictional character and superhero who first appeared in Action Comics #1 in June of 1938 and eventually became the most popular and well-known comic book icon of all time. ... Trolls with the changeling they have raised, John Bauer, 1913. ... Hercules and Cacus, by Baccio Bandinelli, 1525 - 1534. ... Main article: Star Trek: The Original Series Star Trek debuted on NBC on September 8, 1966, having aired in Canada some days earlier. ... Odysseus and Nausicaä - by Charles Gleyre The Odyssey (Greek Ὀδυσσεία) is the second of the two great Greek epic poems ascribed to Homer, the first of which is the Iliad. ... In the United States and Canada, the frontier was the term applied until the end of the 19th century to the zone of unsettled land outside the region of existing settlements of European immigrants and their descendants. ...

Study of contemporary mythology often includes comparisons with ancient myth, more recent folklore, and with established formal philosophy. Theories of contemporary mythology are also being more consciously and deliberately employed in religious practice, psychotherapy, and the analysis of popular culture. One of the more notable twentieth century theories of contemporary mythology was the idea of a collective unconscious, or "racial memory", popularized by Carl Gustaf Jung. Folklore is the ethnographic concept of the tales, legends, or superstitions current among a particular population, a part of the Oral tradition or oral history of a particular culture. ... Popular culture, or pop culture, is the vernacular (peoples) culture that prevails in a modern society. ... Collective unconscious is a term of analytical psychology, and was originally coined by Carl Jung. ... Carl Gustav Jung Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875 – June 6, 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of the neopsychoanalytic school of psychology. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Category:Mythology - The Mind-N-Magick Paganpedia (193 words)
Mythology is the study of myths: stories of a particular culture that it believes to be true and which feature a specific religious or belief system.
The main article for this category is Mythology.
Religion and mythology differ, but have overlapping aspects.
  More results at FactBites »



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