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Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. ~ Richard Dawkins
Myths describe the various and sometimes dramatic breakthroughs of the sacred (or the "supernatural") into the World. ~ Mircea Eliade

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)


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  • Myths are themselves a very important kind of proof. Myths preserve the history of human thought - dreams, nightmares, and memories - as well as the history of human deeds. And tangible proof aside, the legendary Amazons have been an almost universal male nightmare. Men have believed in them. Psychologically speaking, we don't fear something that doesn't exist, something that never happened, something that never could happen - any more than people forbid or regulate something that no one wants to do anyway.
  • 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, Myth and Reality (1963), as translated by Willard R. Trask.
  • A purely individualized myth is an obsession, sometimes a psychosis. A purely socialized myth is an ideology, which sooner or later also becomes obsessive or psychotic. A myth that has either the direct current of transcendence or the alternating current of imagination rises clear of this grisly antithesis.
    • Northrop Frye, Late Notebooks, 1982–1990: Architecture of the Spiritual World (2002), vol. 2, p. 716
  • 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, Elizabeth Hand on Mortal Love at HarperCollins (2004)
  • It is necessary to recognize that with respect to unity and coherence, mythical explanation carries one much further than scientific explanation. For science does not, as its primary objective, seek a complete and definitive explanation of the Universe... It satisfies itself with partial and conditional responses. Whether they be magical, mythical, or religious, the other systems of explanation include everything. They are applied to all domains. They answer all questions. They account for the origin, for the present and even for the evolution of the universe.
  • 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, The Passionate Life (1983), p. 20
  • 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, The Passionate Life (1983), 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.
  • If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance with his instincts, he will accept it even on the slenderest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.
    • Bertrand Russell, Proposed Roads To Freedom (1918), Ch. VI: International relations, p. 97
  • There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths.
  • 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, On the Gods and the Cosmos (4th c.), 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.
  • An entire mythology is stored within our language.
    • Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Occasions 1912-1951 (1993) Ch. 7 : Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough, p. 133
  • 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...

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