a myth (that; Greek, too altgr. mýthos, “word”, “speech”, “narration”, lat. Myth, Mz: Myths) is a collective aspect or world view using religious symbols and metaphors. Whether a myth is based on a reality experience to classify as irrationalis, or however to reality ranges refers, which lie beyond rational detectability, is disputed thereby.

Above all the term myth besides today (negatively occupied) with lie or untruth is colloquially often equated, or in the transferred sense for persons or articles used,from those a special fascination proceeds.

Myths of earlier cultures are us often only than narrations of events Gods -, creation, pre or early history delivered, the very often symbolic and in fantastic going elements to contain. These narrations of Gods,human Kulturheroen and humans report on it, like the actualnesses of the present in those the past justified are, D. i. Emergence of the Gods, humans, a people, the cosmos (= cosmogony). They report also on finaltemporal or jenseitiges happening,D. i. the Apokalypse and concerns the Eschatologie. Myths are psychological by their contained projections concerning human problems and experiences or circumstances on would over-creep nature, characters etc. tiefenspychologisch interpretably.

The myth is provided a graphic world interpretation and life interpretation,with symbols, visions and fabulierenden representations, which can contain however general truth. Often in the myth acting and working Gods are represented following human conditions (anthropomorphic) (God families, God sexes).

Myths become in the mythologiesthe peoples systematically in summary, delivers and/or. tradiert; However also the collection and interpretation are thus called of myths, the myth research mythology.

When often the Logos understood contrast to the myth, which is accessible to the rational discourse.

Table of contents

formsthe myth

Vorrationale excessive quantity

the original forms of the myth are in the earliest excessive quantities of mankind, in which the world is explained not on scientific way but by interpreting narration. This concerns Gods -, Hero - creation -, pre or early history, who contain metaphorical and symbolic or in fantastic going elements.

Myths offer often explanations for existence, developments or connections as for example the emergence of the world (cosmogony), to the origin of Gods(Theogonie), humans or a people. In myths also a finaltemporal or even jenseitiges happening can be described (S. Apokalypse and Eschatologie).

today's use

it gives itself also modern myths, as collective, irrational conception present, as this states for example Roland Barthes in its book myths of the everyday life.

In the form of collective mistakes myths can produce social co-operation and secure rule.

Only in the transferred sense one speaks of fascinating persons, things or eventsas a myth, since the fascination is irrationally justified. This view is not undisputed; she is to be observed particularly in the anglo-saxon area, if for instance of the myth Rhine is the speech there, or by the myth Marilyn Monroe.

The modernAdvertising economy takes advantage of the Mythisierung of products.

demarcation to the Logos

as contrast to the myth can be set the Logos, for that different than a not verifiable myth the rational discourse is accessible and over it with facts inPurchase to be set can. The mythologische reality however can be investigated with the extended thinking of consciousness. Literature scientific the scientific historiography is to be assigned to the Logos, during the myth religion scientific the “faith teachings “including the religious tradition belonging to it and/or. those Sociology is assigned.

myth circles - mythologies

myths are systematically summarized, delivered in the mythologies of the peoples and/or. tradiert and above all interpreted. The genesis of the Pentateuch of the Bible contains mythische narrations in this sense, beside thatof the Erschaffung of the world in seven days for instance of the garden the Eden as literature-scientific kind; however the Bible is not regarded as representation of a mythology, since the associated religion still existed (otherwise would be corresponding “theology “to understand as mythology).


Platon (Gorgias 527a) and Aristoteles approve of the myth only the possibility of an approximation to the truth too (see for this in the comparison Logos). Platon told in the Timaios written mythof the emergence of the world (cosmogony), from which substantial aspects in the Christianity (for instance the immortality of the soul ) survived.

The clearing-up understood the myth as childlike preliminary stage to conceptual thinking and regarded it by this asovercome. The poets of the romance however fell back Greek as well as nordische, later also to Indian myths. Also after Nietz is the uneasiness in the culture of the modern trend expression of the myth loss: “Is missing to mythless humans of the modern trend Kraftthe abbreviation, the horizon delimitation, which the myth carries out. The myth is the matrix of the conception of the world - it places a picture of the world and changes the world over with pictures " (Norbert Bolz, a short history of the light, 1991).

literature history

the written resignation and dichterische forming out of the myths marks the “beginning” of the abendländischen literature, which takes up and transforms central of motives of the myth again and again. For the European culture the Greek-Roman myths are important, since Homer and Hesiod to the material of the seal became and to in 18. Century inside by the Rezeption of the antique ones literary motives supplied.

To important myth minute belong:

and many more.


and Theodor W regard anthropology in such a way during the clearing-up process. Adorno in 20. Century the danger of the loss Mythi. Outgoing from other premises than these Frankfurt sociologists rehabilitatesthe myth Hans flower mountain. For it existenzielle basic experiences express themselves, those humans overloads in the myth. The Narrativ of the myth teaches handling these situations and places thus a discharge function (Arnold Gehlen) for humans. Do not let yourself the myth into clear, graphic language transfer. Straight its Polyvalenz gives it its wealth and makes its interpretableness and applicability (in the sense of a Nachvollzugs) in most different crises possible.


psychological are mythsas fairy tales because of the projections, on which they were based, deep-psychologically interpretably (S. Ark type). God myths reflected besides often easily recognizably an acting and a working of humans; already their - therefore anthropomorphically specified - representation takes place usually similarly toohuman conditions or experiences (e.g. God sex sequences or God families; see.Greek mythology).

In the today's research the myth is interpreted as ritual repetition of Urereignissen, as erzählerische processing of human Urängste and - hopes. In this function it has after the judgementof psychologists and Philologen a unaufholbaren projection/lead in relation to systems of concepts. Myths can contain general truths as graphic world interpretations and life interpretations in telling form.

Varia & reference works

Eric Voegelin sit down in its monumental work “order and History” (5Bde.) with the connection between myth and politics of the classical myths (Mesopotamien, Egypt, Greece) over the Judentum and Christianity up to the modern “political myths” apart.

Briefly Hübner puts the truth of the myth” in its book “as analyticPhilosopher a systematic and a contentwise (not: functionalistic or strukturalistische) interpretation of the myth forwards. It continues to argue critically with the classical and current myth interpretations, as well as with the requirements of the natural sciences. In Abrenzung to the scientific Ontologie he tries the questionto clarify after the Rationalität and the truth of the myth.

Authors like the religion scientist Mircea Eliade, the Indologe Heinrich room and the American Mythologe Joseph Campbell examine the myth from deep-psychological view. Campbell is considered thereby as one the founder to thatComparative mythology, which tries to out-crystallize thing in common in myths from all world.


  • Hans flower mountain: Work on the myth, 1979.
  • Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno: Dialectic of the clearing-up, 1969.
  • Roland Barthes: Myths of theEveryday life, Frankfurt 1964
  • Claude Lévi bunch and Vernant, Jean Pierre among other things: Myth without illusion
  • Claude Lévi bunch: Myth and meaning
  • ASS ASS, January and Harth, Dietrich: Revolution and myth, Frankfurt 1992
  • Barner W., Detken A. (Hrsg,) texts to the modern myth theory,Reclam Stuttgart 2003
  • Blisniewski, Thomas: Selected bibliography to the antique mythology and its Fortleben, Cologne of 1993
  • drills K. - H. (Hrsg.): Myth and modern trend, 1983.
  • Burkert, walter: Myth and mythology, 1988
  • Campbell J.: The Heros in thousand shapes, Frankfurt toMain 1999
  • Campbell J.: The masks of God, (four volumes) Munich 1996
  • Creuzer F.: Symbolism and mythology of the old peoples, 1837-1858.
  • Creuzer F.: Symbolism and mythology of the old peoples, 1837-1858.
  • Grätzel, Stephan.: The masks of the Dionysos. Lectures tooPhilosophy and mythology, London: Turn-shed 2004. ISBN: 1-903343-63-1
  • Hübner K.: Myth (philosophical), in: Theological material encyclopedia
  • Jamme CH.: God on has a garb - borders and perspectives of philosophical myth theories of the present, Frankfurt to 1999
  • Kerényi the K.: The openingthe entrance to the myth
  • room H.: Indian myths and symbols, Munich 2000

special investigation within the individual case-referred Biografieforschung:

  • Wouter J. Hanegraaff: Attempt over Friederike Hauffe: To the relationship between life history and myth of the “Seherin of Prevorst” (II). In: Suevica. Contributionsto Swabian the history of ideas and literature 9 (2001/2002). Stuttgart 2004 [2005], S. 233-276. (ISBB 3-88099-428-5.)

a beautiful, daring paper investigated however good overthe most important indogermanischen creation myths is in

  • Bruce Lincoln: Myth, Cosmos, and Society: Indo European Themes OF Creation andDestruction Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1986 (ISBN 0674597753)

see also

Wikiquote: Myth - quotations
Wiktionary: Myth - word origin, synonyms and translations

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