Archive | February, 2014

The Myth Makers

22 Feb

Every culture has evolved its own mythology, defining its character and offering a way to understand the world. In this sense myths might almost be said to be magic mirrors, reflecting not just our own hopes and fears, but also those of people from earlier times. Some of the stories are unimaginably old and were almost certainly recounted long before the birth of writing and the dawn of recorded history. Collectively, the tales form the basis of much of the world’s literature, philosophy and religion, and act as a powerful document of the human imagination. From Mesopotamia, the cradle of Western civilization, come legends of which we are able to glimpse only fragments, while the belief systems of other ancient societies, such as the Egyptians and Greeks, are far more readily accessible. The stories that have survived from these ancient civilizations describe gods that have long passed into history. Other deities, such as those of Hinduism and Buddhism, remain at the centre of living faiths, worshipped by millions of present-day devotees. But whether myths belong to current or long-vanished cultures, they continue to exert their influence on the civilizations of the world, as their themes are explored in literature and the visual arts, and the archetypes they present help to deepen our understanding of human psychology.

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