Mythology can refer either to the study of myths (e.g., comparative mythology), or to a body or collection of myths (a mythos, e.g., Inca mythology)
- Legend redirects here — for the 1986 fantasy fillm of that name, see Legend (film)
Before 20th century
- That the myths are divine can be seen from those who have used them. Myths have been used by inspired poets, by the best of philosophers, by those who established the mysteries, and by the Gods themselves in oracles. But why the myths are divine it is the duty of philosophy to inquire. Since all existing things rejoice in that which is like them and reject that which is unlike, the stories about the Gods ought to be like the Gods, so that they may both be worthy of the divine essence and make the Gods well disposed to those who speak of them: which could only be done by means of myths.
- Sallustius (4th c.) On the Gods and the Cosmos III. Concerning myths; that they are divine, and why.
- To some extent, mythology is only the most ancient history and biography. So far from being false or fabulous in the common sense, it contains only enduring and essential truth, the I and you, the here and there, the now and then, being omitted. Either time or rare wisdom writes it. Before printing was discovered, a century was equal to a thousand years. The poet is he who can write some pure mythology to-day without the aid of posterity.
- Henry David Thoreau (1849) A Week on the Concord and Marrimack Rivers
- Mythology is the crop which the Old World bore before its soil was exhausted.
- Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not.
- Richard Dawkins (1995) River out of Eden
- Myths describe the various and sometimes dramatic breakthroughs of the sacred (or the "supernatural") into the World. It is this sudden breakthrough of the sacred that really establishes the World and makes it what it is today. Furthermore, it is as a result of the intervention of Supernatural Beings that man himself is what he is today, a mortal, sexed, and cultural being...
- Mircea Eliade (1963) Myth and Reality As translated by Willard R. Trask.
- The disinterested imaginative core of mythology is what develops into literature, science, philosophy. Religion is applied mythology.
- Northrop Frye (1912–1991) Notebooks 21.101
- A major component of the western myth is the belief that myth is a primitive and mistaken way of thinking about the world that has been replaced by science. Commonly, the word “myth” is now used to mean an illusion or a lie... Enlightened moderns are accustomed to looking at the queer beliefs of the Mayas or the Tassaday and seeing them as mythical. But we look on our own belief systems as rational and rooted in the realities of politics and economics. As Joseph Campbell says: “Myth is other people’s religion.”
- Sam Keen (1983) The Passionate Life', p. 20
- Myth is the system of basic metaphors, images, and stories that in-forms the [[perceptions[[, memories, and aspirations of a people; provides the rationale for its institutions, rituals and power structure; and gives a map of the purpose and stages of life.
- Sam Keen (1983) The Passionate Life', p. 21
- A living myth remains largely unconscious for the majority. It is the reality, not the symbol. … Some people in every culture, however, see through or beyond the myth. … Those whose amphibious minds move both within and beyond the myth may be though of as outlaws or metaphysicians. Myth and metaphysics are related to each other in the same way that religion is related to theology. The mythical mind is unreflective. It lives unquestioningly within a horizon of the culture’s images, stories, rituals, and symbols, just as the religious person rests content within the liturgy and creedal structure of the church or cult. The metaphysical mind reflects upon the myth and tries to make it conscious. It plays with the stories and images and lifts the basic presuppositions about life into the light of consciousness. In this sense, metaphysics is the thinking person’s religion.
- Sam Keen (1983) The Passionate Life', p. 21
- Are there any mythical beasts which aren't simple pastiches of nature? Centaurs, minotaurs, unicorns, griffons, chimeras, sphinxes, manticores, and the like don't speak well for the human imagination. None is as novel as a kangaroo or starfish.
- William Poundstone, Labyrinths of Reason (1988), p. 11
- Mental illness is a myth. Psychiatrists are not concerned with mental illnesses and their treatments. In actual practice they deal with personal, social and ethical problems in living.
- The mythology is kind of a pattern. I'm very taken by mythology. I read it at a very early age and kept on reading it. Before I discovered science fiction I was reading mythology. And from that I got interested in comparative religion and folklore and related subjects. And when I began writing, it was just a fertile area I could use in my stories...
- Myths are fun, as long as you don't confuse them with the truth.
- Richard Dawkins (2012) The Magic Of Reality
- Real myths are often strange and startlingly unfamiliar, and don't always give up their meanings easily; you have to tease them out, and for me, that's one of the pleasures of reading older collections of lore.
- Elizabeth Hand (2004) Elizabeth Hand on Mortal Love at HarperCollins