Comparative mythology

Comparative mythology

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Comparative mythology is the comparison
Comparison
Comparison may refer to:-Language:* Comparison , a feature of many languages* Degree of comparison, an English language grammatical feature* Mass comparison, a test for the relatedness of languages-Mathematics:...

 of myths from different cultures in an attempt to identify shared themes and characteristics. Comparative mythology has served a variety of academic purposes. For example, scholars have used the relationships between different myths to trace the development of religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s and culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s, to propose common origins for myths from different cultures, and to support various psychological theories
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

.

Comparativists versus particularists


The anthropologist C. Scott Littleton
C. Scott Littleton
Covington Scott Littleton was an American anthropologist and academic.Born in Los Angeles, he served in the Army during the Korean War. Littleton obtained his B.A. , M.A. , and Ph.D...

 defines comparative mythology as "the systematic comparison of myths and mythic themes drawn from a wide variety of cultures". By comparing different cultures' mythologies, scholars try to identify underlying similarities and/or to reconstruct a "protomythology" from which those mythologies developed. To an extent, all theories about mythology follow a comparative approach: as the scholar of religion Robert Segal notes, "by definition, all theorists [of myth] seek similarities among myths". However, scholars of mythology can be roughly divided into particularists, who emphasize the differences between myths, and comparativists, who emphasize the similarities. Particularists tend to "maintain that the similarities deciphered by comparativists are vague and superficial".

Comparative approaches to mythology held great popularity among eighteenth- and nineteenth-century scholars. Many of these scholars believed that all myths showed signs of having evolved from a single myth or mythical theme. For example, the nineteenth-century philologist Friedrich Max Müller led a school of thought which interpreted nearly all myths as poetic descriptions of the sun's behavior. According to this theory, these poetic descriptions had become distorted over time into seemingly diverse stories about gods and heroes. However, modern-day scholars lean more toward particularism, feeling suspicious of broad statements about myths. One exception to this trend is Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

's theory of the "monomyth
Monomyth
Joseph Campbell's term monomyth, also referred to as the hero's journey, is a basic pattern that its proponents argue is found in many narratives from around the world. This widely distributed pattern was described by Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces...

", which is discussed below.

Approaches to comparative mythology


Comparative mythologists come from various fields, including folklore, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, and religious studies
Religious studies
Religious studies is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives.While theology attempts to...

, and they have used a variety of methods to compare myths. These are some important approaches to comparative mythology.

Linguistic


Some scholars look at the linguistic relationships between the myths of different cultures—for example, the similarities between the names of gods in different cultures. One particularly successful example of this approach is the study of Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 mythology. Scholars have found striking similarities between the mythological and religious terms used in different cultures of Europe and India. For example, the Greek
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 sky-god Zeus Pater, the Roman sky-god Jupiter
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

, and the Indian (Vedic) sky-god Dyauṣ Pitṛ
Dyaus Pita
In the Vedic pantheon ' or ' or Dyaus Pitar is the Sky Father, divine consort of the Prithvi and father of Agni, Indra , and Ushas, the daughter representing dawn. In archaic Vedic lore, Dyauṣ Pitṛ and Prithivi Matṛ were one, single composite dvandva entity, named as the Dyavaprthivi...

 have similar names.

This suggests that the Greeks, Romans, and Indians originated from a common ancestral culture, and that the names Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, Jupiter
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

, and Dyaus evolved from an older name, *Dyēus ph2ter
Dyeus
*Dyēus is the reconstructed chief deity of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon. He was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society....

, which referred to the sky-god, or to get a perfect English cognate, a day-father, in a Proto-Indo-European religion
Proto-Indo-European religion
Proto-Indo-European religion is the hypothesized religion of the Proto-Indo-European peoples based on the existence of similarities among the deities, religious practices and mythologies of the Indo-European peoples. Reconstruction of the hypotheses below is based on linguistic evidence using the...

.

Structural


Some scholars look for underlying structures shared by different myths. The folklorist Vladimir Propp
Vladimir Propp
Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp was a Russian and Soviet formalist scholar who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their simplest irreducible narrative elements.- Biography :...

 proposed that many Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 fairy tales have a common plot structure, in which certain events happen in a predictable order. In contrast, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

 examined the structure of myths in terms of the abstract relationships between its elements, rather than their order in the plot. In particular, Lévi-Strauss believed that the elements of a myth could be organized into binary oppositions (raw vs. cooked, nature vs. culture, etc.). He thought that myth's purpose was to "mediate" these oppositions, thereby resolving basic tensions or contradictions found in human life or culture.

Psychological


Some scholars propose that myths from different cultures reveal the same, or similar, psychological forces at work in those cultures. Some Freudian thinkers have identified stories similar to the Greek story of Oedipus
Oedipus
Oedipus was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his father and marry his mother, and thus brought disaster on his city and family...

 in many different cultures. They argue that these stories reflect the different expressions of the Oedipus complex
Oedipus complex
In psychoanalytic theory, the term Oedipus complex denotes the emotions and ideas that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via dynamic repression, that concentrate upon a boy’s desire to sexually possess his mother, and kill his father...

 in those cultures. Likewise, Jungians have identified images, themes, and patterns that appear in the myths of many different cultures. They believe that these similarities result from archetypes
Jungian archetypes
Carl Jung created the archetypes which “are ancient or archaic images that derive from the collective unconscious” Also known as innate universal psychic dispositions that form the substrate from which the basic symbols or representations of unconscious experience emerge...

 present in the unconscious levels
Unconscious mind
The unconscious mind is a term coined by the 18th century German romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge...

 of every person's mind.

Some mythological parallels


Comparative mythology has uncovered a number of parallels between the myths of different cultures, including some very widespread recurring themes and plot elements. Here are some examples.

The Flood



Cultures around the world tell stories about a great flood. In many cases, the flood leaves only one survivor or group of survivors. For example, both the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 and the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

tell of a global flood that wiped out humanity and of a man who saved the Earth's species by taking them aboard a boat. Similar stories of a single flood survivor appear in Hindu mythology
Hindu mythology
Hindu religious literature is the large body of traditional narratives related to Hinduism, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture...

, Aztec mythology
Aztec mythology
The aztec civilization recognized a polytheistic mythology, which contained the many deities and supernatural creatures from their religious beliefs. "orlando"- History :...

, in the Greek myth of Deucalion
Deucalion
In Greek mythology Deucalion was a son of Prometheus and Pronoia. The anger of Zeus was ignited by the hubris of the Pelasgians, and he decided to put an end to the Bronze Age. Lycaon, the king of Arcadia, had sacrificed a boy to Zeus, who was appalled by this savage offering...

 as well as in the Quran.

The creative sacrifice


Many cultures have stories about divine figures whose death creates an essential part of reality. These myths seem especially common among cultures that grow crops, particularly tubers. One such myth from New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 tells of a miraculously-conceived girl named Hainuwele
Hainuwele
Hainuwele, 'The Coconut Girl', is a figure from the folklore of the island of Seram in the Maluku Islands. While hunting one day on Seram, a man named Ameta found a coconut, something never before seen on Seram. Ameta took it home. That night, a figure appeared in a dream and instructed him to...

, whose murdered corpse sprouts into the people's staple food crops. The Chinese myth
Chinese mythology
Chinese mythology is a collection of cultural history, folktales, and religions that have been passed down in oral or written tradition. These include creation myths and legends and myths concerning the founding of Chinese culture and the Chinese state...

 of Pangu
Pangu
Pangu was the first living being and the creator of all in Chinese mythology.- The Pangu legend:...

, the Vedic myth
Vedic mythology
Vedic mythology refers to the mythological aspects of the historical Vedic religion and Vedic literature, most notably alluded to in the hymns of the Rigveda...

 of Purusha
Purusha
In some lineages of Hinduism, Purusha is the "Self" which pervades the universe. The Vedic divinities are interpretations of the many facets of Purusha...

, and the Norse myth
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

 of Ymir
Ymir
In Norse mythology, Ymir, also called Aurgelmir among the giants themselves, was the founder of the race of frost giants and was later killed by the Borrs.-Etymology:...

 all tell of a cosmic giant who is killed to create the world. Similar is the Christian myth
Christian mythology
Christian mythology is the body of myths associated with Christianity. In the study of mythology, the term "myth" refers to a traditional story, often one which is regarded as sacred and which explains how the world and its inhabitants came to have their present form.Classicist G.S. Kirk defines a...

 of Christ, whose death refashions the world.

The dying god



Many myths feature a god who dies and often returns to life. Such myths are particularly common in Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

ern mythologies. The anthropologist Sir James Frazer compared these "dying god" myths in his multi-volume work The Golden Bough. The Egyptian
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 god Osiris
Osiris
Osiris is an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He is classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh's beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and...

 and the Mesopotamian god Tammuz are examples of the "dying god", while the Greek myths of Adonis
Adonis
Adonis , in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old...

 (though a mortal) has often been compared to Osiris and the myth of Dionysos also features death and rebirth. Some scholars have noted similarities between polytheistic stories of "dying gods" and the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 story of Jesus of Nazareth. Awareness of these similarities goes back to the early Christian era, when the church father Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

 discussed them.

The structure of hero stories


A number of scholars have suggested that hero
Hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

 stories from various cultures have the same underlying structure. Otto Rank
Otto Rank
Otto Rank was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, teacher and therapist. Born in Vienna as Otto Rosenfeld, he was one of Sigmund Freud's closest colleagues for 20 years, a prolific writer on psychoanalytic themes, an editor of the two most important analytic journals, managing director of Freud's...

, who began his career as a follower of Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

, argued that the stories of heroes' births have a common Oedipal structure. Other scholars, including Lord Raglan and, more recently, Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

, have also suggested that hero stories share a common structure. Some comparative mythologists look for similarities only among hero stories within a specific geographical or ethnic range. For example, the Austrian
Austrians
Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

 scholar Johann Georg van Hahn tried to identify a common structure underlying "Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

" hero stories. Others, such as Campbell, propose theories about hero stories in general. According to Campbell's "monomyth
Monomyth
Joseph Campbell's term monomyth, also referred to as the hero's journey, is a basic pattern that its proponents argue is found in many narratives from around the world. This widely distributed pattern was described by Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces...

" theory, hero stories from around the world share a common plot structure. Because of its extremely comparative nature, the monomyth theory is currently out of favor with the mainstream study of mythology.

Axis mundi



Many mythologies mention a place that sits at the center of the world and acts as a point of contact between different levels of the universe. This "axis mundi
Axis mundi
The axis mundi , in religion or mythology, is the world center and/or the connection between heaven and Earth. As the celestial pole and geographic pole, it expresses a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet...

" is often marked by a sacred tree or other mythical object. For example, many myths describe a great tree or pillar joining heaven, earth, and the underworld. Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, ancient China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, and the ancient Germans
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 all had myths featuring a "Cosmic Tree" whose branches reach heaven and whose roots reach hell.

Titanomachy


Many cultures have a creation myth in which a group of younger, more civilized gods conquer and/or struggle against a group of older gods who represent the forces of chaos. In the Greek myth of the Titanomachy
Titanomachy
In Greek mythology, the Titanomachy or War of the Titans , was the ten-year series of battles fought in Thessaly between the two camps of deities long before the existence of mankind: the Titans, based on Mount Othrys, and the Olympians, who would come to reign on Mount Olympus...

, the Olympian gods
Twelve Olympians
The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon , in Greek mythology, were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis were children of Zeus...

 defeat the Titans
Titan (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia and Uranus, that ruled during the legendary Golden Age....

, an older and more primitive divine race, and establish cosmic order. In Hindu mythology
Hindu mythology
Hindu religious literature is the large body of traditional narratives related to Hinduism, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture...

, the deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

s
(gods) battle the asura
Asura
-In Hinduism:In Hinduism, the Asuras constitute a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes considered sinful and materialistic. The Daityas and Danavas were combinedly known as Asuras. The Asura were opposed to the Devas. Both groups are children of Kasyapa...

s
(demons). And the Celtic gods
Celtic polytheism
Celtic polytheism, commonly known as Celtic paganism, refers to the religious beliefs and practices adhered to by the Iron Age peoples of Western Europe now known as the Celts, roughly between 500 BCE and 500 CE, spanning the La Tène period and the Roman era, and in the case of the Insular Celts...

 of life and light struggle against the Fomorians
Fomorians
In Irish mythology, the Fomoire are a semi-divine race said to have inhabited Ireland in ancient times. They may have once been believed to be the beings who preceded the gods, similar to the Greek Titans. It has been suggested that they represent the gods of chaos and wild nature, as opposed to...

, ancient gods of death and darkness.

This myth of the gods conquering demons - and order conquering chaos - is especially common in Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 mythologies. Some scholars suggest that the myth reflects the ancient Indo-Europeans' conquest of native peoples during their expansion over Europe and India.

However, non-Indo-European cultures also have such myths. For example, many Near Eastern mythologies include a "combat myth" in which a good god battles an evil or chaotic demon. An example is the Babylonian Enuma Elish
Enûma Elish
The is the Babylonian creation myth . It was recovered by Austen Henry Layard in 1849 in the ruined Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh , and published by George Smith in 1876.The Enûma Eliš has about a thousand lines and is recorded in Old Babylonian on seven clay tablets, each holding...

.

The deus otiosus


Many cultures believe in a celestial Supreme Being
Supreme Being
The term Supreme Being is often defined simply as "God", and it is used with this meaning by theologians of many religious faiths, including, but not limited to, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Deism. However, the term can also refer to more complex or philosophical interpretations of the...

 who has cut off contact with humanity. Historian Mircea Eliade
Mircea Eliade
Mircea Eliade was a Romanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago. He was a leading interpreter of religious experience, who established paradigms in religious studies that persist to this day...

 calls this Supreme Being a deus otiosus
Deus otiosus
Deus otiosus or "idle god" is a theological concept used to describe a creator god who largely retires from the world and is no longer involved in its daily operation, a central tenet of Deism....

(an "idle god"), although this term is also used more broadly, to refer to any god who doesn't interact regularly with humans. In many myths, the Supreme Being withdraws into the heavens after the creation of the world. Baluba mythology
Baluba mythology
The Baluba are one of the Bantu peoples of Central Africa. Their creation deity's name is Kabezya-Mpungu.-Creation myth of Kabezya-Mpungu:The Baluba creation story makes a connection between God's invisibility or unavailability, and the endowment of humans with a soul or divine component longing...

 features such a story, in which the supreme God withdraws from the earth, leaving man to search for him. Similarly, the mythology of the Hereros tells of a Sky God who has abandoned mankind to lesser divinities. In the mythologies of highly complex cultures, the Supreme Being tends to disappear completely, replaced by a strongly polytheistic belief system.

Founding myths



Many cultures have myths describing the origin of their customs, rituals, and identity. In fact, ancient and traditional societies have often justified their customs by claiming that their gods or mythical heroes established those customs. For example, according to the myths of the Australian Karadjeri, the mythical Bagadjimbiri
Bagadjimbiri
In Aboriginal mythology , the Bagadjimbiri are two brothers and creator gods. They arose from the ground as dingos and made water-holes, sex organs for the androgynous first people, and invented circumcision. Taking human form, the Bagadjimbiri began an argument with Ngariman, a cat-person...

 brothers established all of the Karadjeri's customs, including the position in which they stand while urinating.

See also


  • Joseph Campbell
    Joseph Campbell
    Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

  • Georges Dumezil
    Georges Dumézil
    Georges Dumézil was a French comparative philologist best known for his analysis of sovereignty and power in Proto-Indo-European religion and society...

  • Mircea Eliade
    Mircea Eliade
    Mircea Eliade was a Romanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago. He was a leading interpreter of religious experience, who established paradigms in religious studies that persist to this day...

  • Hamlet's Mill
    Hamlet's Mill
    Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend Hamlet's Mill (first published by Gambit, Boston, 1969) by Giorgio de Santillana (a professor of the history of science at MIT) and Hertha von Dechend Hamlet's Mill (first published by Gambit, Boston, 1969) by Giorgio de Santillana (a...

  • Carl Gustav Jung
  • Claude Lévi-Strauss
    Claude Lévi-Strauss
    Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

  • Friedrich Max Müller

  • Eliphas Lévi
    Eliphas Levi
    Eliphas Lévi, born Alphonse Louis Constant , was a French occult author and purported magician."Eliphas Lévi," the name under which he published his books, was his attempt to translate or transliterate his given names "Alphonse Louis" into Hebrew although he was not Jewish.His second wife was...

  • Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
  • Samael Aun Weor
    Samael Aun Weor
    Samael Aun Weor , born Víctor Manuel Gómez Rodríguez, Colombian citizen and later Mexican, was an author, lecturer and founder of the 'Universal Christian Gnostic Movement' with his teaching of 'The Doctrine of Synthesis' of all religions in both their esoteric and exoteric aspects...

  • Mythography
    Mythography
    A mythographer, or a mythologist is a compiler of myths. The word derives from the Greek "μυθογραφία" , "writing of fables", from "μῦθος" , "speech, word, fact, story, narrative" + "γράφω" , "to write, to inscribe". Mythography is then the rendering of myths in the arts...

  • Religious pluralism
    Religious pluralism
    Religious pluralism is a loosely defined expression concerning acceptance of various religions, and is used in a number of related ways:* As the name of the worldview according to which one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus that at least some truths and true values...

  • Abram Smythe Palmer
    Abram Smythe Palmer
    The Reverend Abram Smythe Palmer was a doctor of divinity, lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin, and enthusiastic lexicographer and mythographer....

  • Structuralism
    Structuralism
    Structuralism originated in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague and Moscow schools of linguistics. Just as structural linguistics was facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance in linguistics, structuralism...



Fields of study

  • Creation myth
  • Development of religion
    Development of religion
    The development of religion describes the stages in the evolution of any particular religious system from a social sciences perspective. It includes such considerations as the evolutionary origin of religions and the evolutionary psychology of religion; the history of religions, including...

  • Myth and ritual
    Myth and ritual
    In traditional societies, myth and ritual are two central components of religious practice. Although myth and ritual are commonly united as parts of religion, the exact relationship between them has been a matter of controversy among scholars...

  • Panbabylonism
    Panbabylonism
    Panbabylonism is a school of thought within Assyriology and Religious Studies that considers the Hebrew Bible and Judaism as directly derived from Babylonian culture and mythology...



Common

  • Hindu and Norse mythology


Specific comparisons are reviewed in Comparative religion
Comparative religion
Comparative religion is a field of religious studies that analyzes the similarities and differences of themes, myths, rituals and concepts among the world's religions...

.

Sources

  • Campbell, Joseph
    • The Hero with a Thousand Faces
      The Hero with a Thousand Faces
      The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a non-fiction book, and seminal work of comparative mythology by Joseph Campbell...

      . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.
    • The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. NY: Penguin Compass, 1991.
  • Dimmitt, Cornelia, and J. van Buitenen, eds. and trans. Classical Hindu Mythology. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978.
  • Eliade, Mircea
    • Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return. NY: Harper & Row, 1959.
    • Images and Symbols. Trans. Philip Mairet. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991.
    • Myth and Reality. Trans. Willard Trask. NY: Harper & Row, 1963.
    • Myths, Dreams and Mysteries. Trans. Philip Mairet. NY: Harper & Row, 1967.
    • Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. Princeton University Press: Princeton, 2004.
  • Frankfort, Henri. "The Dying God". Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21.3-4(1958): 141-51.
  • Graves, Robert. "Jungian Mythology". The Hudson Review 5.2(1952): 245-57.
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  • Johnson, Allen, and Douglass Price-Williams. Oedipus Ubiquitous: The Family Complex in World Literature. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996.
  • Justin Martyr. The First Apology. Trans. Marcus Dods and George Reith. Church Fathers. New Advent. 23 June 2008 newadvent.org
  • Leonard, Scott. "The History of Mythology: Part I". Youngstown State University. 22 June 2008 as.ysu.edu
  • Leslau, Charlotte and Wolf Leslau. "The Creation of the World A Myth of Uganda". Copyediting-L. 2008. Indiana University. 21 June 2008 copyediting-1.info
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude. Structural Anthropology. Trans. Claire Jacobson. New York: Basic Books, 1963.
  • Littleton, C. The New Comparative Mythology: An Anthropological Assessment of the Theories of Georges Dumezil. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.
  • McGinn, Bernard
    Bernard McGinn (theologian)
    Bernard McGinn is a theologian, historian, and scholar of spirituality, affiliated with the University of Chicago, where he is Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity in the Divinity School and the Committees on Medieval Studies and on...

    . Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil. NY: HarperCollins, 1994.
  • Northup, Lesley. "Myth-Placed Priorities: Religion and the Study of Myth". Religious Studies Review 32.1(2006): 5-10.
  • Propp, Vladimir. The Morphology of the Folktale.Trans. Laurence Scott. Texas: University of Texas Press, 1968.
  • Railsback, Bruce. "Pan Gu and Nü Wa". Creation Stories from around the World. July 2000. University of Georgia. 21 June 2008 gly.uga.edu
  • Robertson, John. Pagan Christs. London: Watts & Co., 1911.
  • Segal, Robert A.
    • Hero Myths: A Reader. Blackwell Publishing, 2000.
    • Theorizing About Myth. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999.
    • "The Romantic Appeal of Joseph Campbell". Religion Online. 22 June 2008 religion-online.org
    • Untitled book review. History of Religions 32.1(1992): 88-90.
  • Taylor, Archer. "The Biographical Pattern in Traditional Narrative". Journal of the Folklore Institute 1.1-2(1964): 114-29.
  • Tortchinov, Evgueni. "Cybele, Attis, and the Mysteries of the 'Suffering Gods': A Transpersonalistic Interpretation". The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 17.2(1998): 149-59.
  • Urton, Gary. Inca Myths: The Legendary Past. Texas: University of Texas Press, 1999.
  • Watkins, Calvert. "Indo-European and Indo-Europeans". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th ed. 2000. Bartleby.com. 21 June 2008 bartleby.com
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Selected bibliography

  • Arvidsson, Stefan, Aryan Idols. Indo-European Mythology as Science and Ideology. 2006. University of Chicago Press.
  • Clifton, Dan Salahuddin, The Myth Of The Western Magical Tradition. 1998. C&GCHE
  • Dickson, K. "Bibliography-in-Progress of Texts on Myths & Comparative Mythology". 11/12/09. Purdue University. 17 December 2009 web.ics.purdue.edu
  • Doniger, Wendy
    Wendy Doniger
    Wendy Doniger is an American Indologist and Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Committee on Social Thought...

    , The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth. 1998. New York: Columbia University Press [An introduction to comparative mythology]
  • Doniger, Wendy, Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India (Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion, 1996-1997: School of Oriental and African Studies University of London). 1999. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Dumezil, Georges
    Georges Dumézil
    Georges Dumézil was a French comparative philologist best known for his analysis of sovereignty and power in Proto-Indo-European religion and society...

     The Stakes of the Warrior. 1983. Berkeley: University of California Press
  • Dumezil, Georges The Plight of a Sorcerer. 1986. Berkeley: University of California Press
  • Dumezil, Georges Mitra-Varuna: An Essay on Two Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty. 1988. New York:Zone Books
  • Friedrich, Paul, The Meaning of Aphrodite. 1978. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Friedrich, Paul, Proto-Indo-European Trees: The Arboreal System of a Prehistoric People. 1970. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Jamison, Stephanie The Ravenous Hyenas and the Wounded Sun: Myth and Ritual in Ancient India . 1991. Ithaca: Cornell University Press
  • Jamison, Stephanie, Sacrificed Wife / Sacrificer's Wife: Women, Ritual and Hospitality in Ancient India. 1996. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude
    Claude Lévi-Strauss
    Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

     Myth and Meaning. 1995. New York: Schocken Books
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude, The Raw and the Cooked
    The Raw and the Cooked
    The Raw and the Cooked is the first volume from Mythologiques written by French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. The original French title was Le Cru et le cuit....

     (Mythologiques
    Mythologiques
    Mythologiques is a four-volume work of cultural anthropology by Claude Lévi-Strauss. Originally written in French, the works were translated into English by John Weightman and Doreen Weightman.The four volumes of Mythologiques are:...

     Volume One). 1990. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude, From Honey to Ashes (Mythologiques Volume Two). 1973. New York: Harper and Row
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude, The Origin of Table-Manners (Mythologiques Volume Three). 1978. New York: Harper and Row
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude The Naked Man (Mythologiques Volume Four). 1990. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Lincoln, Bruce Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship. 1999. University of Chicago Press.
  • Patton, Laurie; Doniger, Wendy (eds.), Myth and Method (Studies in Religion and Culture). 1996. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia
  • Puhvel, Jaan
    Jaan Puhvel
    Jaan Puhvel is an Estonian-American Indo-Europeanist. As a student of Georges Dumezil, he also specializes in comparative mythology....

    , Comparative Mythology. 1987. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • White, David Gordon, Doniger, Wendy, Myths of the Dog-Man. 1991. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Wise, R. Todd, A Neocomparative Examination of the Orpheus Myth As Found in the Native American and European Traditions, 1998. UMI.