Understanding Mythology: Origins, Types and Benefits of Studying It

Meaning of Mythology – Reader may have read books or watched movies or series themed on the stories of gods from abroad. Films such as Thor, Percy Jackson and The Olympians, to God of Egypt , are a number of fictional films themed on Gods from various countries

In these stories, the gods are described as strong figures with super powers. The power they have can be used for good, such as saving the world and helping others, or for evil things such as killing other gods and dominating the world.

Meaning of Mythology

The stories about the gods are indeed fictitious, made for the benefit of the entertainment industry. Even so, many of these stories take the background, starting from the names of the characters, their nature, and their strength, from various mythologies.

The meaning of mythology, if referring to the Indonesian Language Dictionary (KBBI), can be interpreted as ” the science of literary forms that contain conceptions and sacred fables about the lives of gods and ethereal beings in a culture. 

In addition, another definition that is similar to the previous definition, and can be found in KBBI regarding the meaning of mythology is ” science about the existence of gods and heroes in the past that has an interpretation and meaning about the events of human origin. 

So, Reader can conclude, that the understanding of mythology is not far from the science that studies stories about figures in the past, be it gods, spirits, or heroes, along with the history they have.

The Origin of the Word Mythology

If we have already discussed the meaning of mythology based on terminology or the definition of terms, it feels incomplete if we do not look for the meaning of mythology based on etymology or based on the origin of the word.

Like a number of other absorption words, the term mythology comes from the Latin language, namely ” mythologia “. The word mythologia itself is a combination of 2 words, namely ” mythos ” and ” logia “.

The word ” mythos ” or ” myth ” has the meaning of “a story spread from mouth to mouth, from an unknown source”. While the word ” logia ” or ” logy ” can be translated into a number of words such as “theory”, “science”, “understanding”, to “doctrine”.

Based on a number of historical records, the word mythology was first used by France in the early 15th century, namely ” mythologie “. It was only then that the word was replaced using the commonly used suffix in the English language, namely ” logy “, so that it became the word mythology that we know now, namely ” mythology “.

The difference between Mythology and Myth

The word mythology is often equated with the word myth. This is due to the similarity between the two words. In the previous explanation, Reader has also seen that the word mythology actually comes from the word myth.

If you open the KBBI, the explanation of the meaning of the word myth also has the same definition as the word mythology, namely ” stories about gods and heroes in the past that have interpretations and meanings about the events of human origin. 

The word myth also has another definition in KBBI that is again similar to the word mythology, namely “the story of a nation about the gods and heroes of the past, containing an interpretation of the origins of the universe, humans, and the nation, containing a deep meaning expressed in a magical way. 

Although it has a number of similarities in its definition, the word myth is different from the word mythology. The word myth generally refers to a group of stories or fables in the past. While mythology is the science that studies the stories.

Myths are usually fiction that cannot be proven true, so they tend to be considered a form of entertainment. Mythology as a science, learns the history of the stories, and is generally asked to provide valid evidence related to the truth of these stories.

So, it can be said that a number of written works and films that have been mentioned in the beginning of the article, are part of the myths whose existence is also studied and researched by mythology.

Types of Mythology

There are various mythologies spread in various parts of the world. As already discussed, not all mythology is real, and is only considered a fictional story. However, there are also a number of myths whose truth can be proven by researchers.

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Broadly speaking, researchers divide the types of mythology into 3. These three types of mythology are pure myth , heroic saga , and folk tale . The following is a brief explanation of the 3 types of mythology.

  • Pure myth : Pure myth is science and religion in the primitive era, which tells about the understanding and understanding of society in ancient civilizations in a number of regions, about the universe, natural disasters, and even God.
  • Heroic saga : True to its name, heroic saga tells the story of the life of a person who does heroic deeds. These figures are known to the local community as heroes and saviors from the misfortunes they had experienced in the past.
  • Folk tale : Folk tale has a similar definition to myth, which is a local folk or ethnic story that is passed on from mouth to mouth. The story generally does not come from a clear source, so its truth cannot be proven.

Mythology in Various Parts of the World

Every country in different parts of the world has its own mythology. If we discuss all these mythologies in one article, it will take a lot of time. This is because mythology has a deep history behind its existence.

Even so, there are some mythologies that have made their name known. Reader may often find a number of names or backgrounds from a story that takes inspiration from a mythology. Here are some mythologies that are widely known by people in various countries.

1. Greek mythology

Greek mythology is part of a religion in Greece in the past. This mythology contains stories of gods, monsters, mysterious creatures and animals, heroes, as well as a number of rituals that happened in ancient Greece.

In his story, there are many figures involved in Greek mythology. Each character has their own background, character, and motive. The many figures in Greek mythology make the stories have branches, each with a different premise and end result.

However, there are a number of figures who have a significant influence from stories in Greek mythology. Here are some of the characters, along with a little explanation about their characters.

  • Zeus : Zeus is the god of thunder and the sky, who is the strongest god figure and the leader of the Gods in Greek mythology. Zeus is known for his wisdom and power in leadership. However, Zeus also had an affair even though he was married.
  • Hera : Hera is the wife of the god Zeus, as well as the queen and leader of all the goddesses. Hera is known as a beautiful and gentle figure. However, Hera is known to be jealous of Zeus because the god has many mistresses.
  • Prometheus : Prometheus is one of the strongest monsters in Greek mythology, and is Zeus’s most trusted aide. Once upon a time Prometheus had a conflict with Zeus due to his behavior in dealing with ordinary humans, so Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympus, and gave it to mankind to heal them.
  • Achilles : Achilles is the most prominent warrior figure in Greek mythology. Achilles gained the power of immortality after bathing in the River Styx. Even so, Achilles has a weakness in the heel, which is precisely the reason the immortal warrior died.
  • Medusa : Medusa is a creature in Greek mythology who is depicted as a beautiful woman with snake hair. But, Medusa is a figure that can turn men into stone if they are fascinated by her beauty.

2. Nordic Mythology

Originating from the Scandinavian region, Nordic mythology is also religious stories like Greek mythology. The stories found in Nordic mythology come from the Nordic people, or commonly referred to as “Vikings”.

Nordic mythology also tells stories about gods, goddesses, and other creatures that inhabit 9 different worlds. At the end of the story of Nordic mythology, the world they live in is destroyed due to an event called “Ragnarok”.

The figures found in Nordic mythology are also not inferior to Greek mythology. Almost all of them also have a role in their own destiny. Here are a number of figures who hold importance in Nordic mythology.

  • Odin : Odin in Nordic mythology is the most respected god figure, and serves as the leader of the gods. Odin is a strong character who likes to go on adventures and find interesting things. Odin is also known for his wisdom, but is also known to be a cunning figure and often belittles other figures.
  • Thor : Thor is the god of thunder, who is also the son of Odin. As his name suggests, Thor has the ability to control lightning, accompanied by his flagship hammer, Mjöllnir. Thor is known as a brave and fearless figure in any situation.
  • Loki : Loki is also the son of Odin, but comes from a different mother than Thor. This makes his status as the half-sister of the thunder god. Loki is a cunning god and often uses various means to get what he wants, just like his father.
  • Fenrir : Fenrir is a creature that has the form of a giant wolf. Fenrir is also known to be the son of Loki who was chained underground.
  • Jormungand : Jormungand is the brother of Fenrir, in the form of a giant snake. Jormungand himself according to the story of Nordic mythology, is the main enemy of Thor. The two have a number of battles, and end with Thor and Jormungand finishing each other off at Ragnarok.
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3. Roman mythology

According to a number of experts, Roman mythology is taken from stories in Greek mythology. There are quite a lot of similarities that can be found by researchers, between Roman mythology and Greek mythology, especially in the background of the story, as well as characterization.

Even so, there is a reason why Roman mythology seems to “import” from Greek mythology. One of them is the orientation of the Romans towards the family, so the majority of them think that the gods exist only to help the daily life of the Romans.

Despite that, there are a number of gods in Roman mythology who also have a big role in the lives of the Romans. Here is a little explanation from the gods.

  • Jupiter : Jupiter is the strongest figure in Roman mythology. Jupiter has the ability to control lightning and the sky. Reader can see that the figure of Jupiter is a copy of the god Zeus in Greek mythology
  • Juno : Like Hera, the goddess in Greek mythology, Juno is the leader of the goddesses in Greek mythology. She has the title as the goddess of marriage and childbirth for the Romans at that time.
  • Mars : Mars is the god of war in Roman mythology, who is also a copy of Ares, the god of war in Greek mythology. It is said that the god Mars was more worshiped than Jupiter, because of the nature of the Romans who loved war at the time.
  • Saturn : Saturn is the deity that represents agriculture, freedom, and prosperity. Saturn is also the father of Jupiter. Saturn is a copy of the monster in Greek mythology, Cronus.
  • Janus : In Roman mythology, Janus is described as a figure that represents the beginning and end of everything. Janus is one of the few gods of Roman mythology that does not have a copy from Greek mythology.

Benefits of Studying Mythology

Every branch of knowledge exists for a reason. Each branch of science has a number of benefits that can be obtained by researchers if they study the field seriously. And of course there is also something that can be obtained in the field of mythology.

Reader should have realized that there are many subjects in mythology whose truth is quite doubtful. However, that doesn’t mean Reader can’t get something from there. On the contrary, there are actually many things that can be found from the untruth.

In western countries, many have applied curricula to study mythology, such as Nordic mythology, Roman mythology, and the most common, Greek mythology. There are several reasons why they teach their students about mythology. Here is the explanation.

  • Mythology as a historical source of the world’s oldest civilization . Long before the existence of writing or language, mythology was a source that could be used to find out about the life of past civilizations. Things like artifacts and paintings in caves, are some of the findings that can explain a little of the civilization of the past.
  • Mythology as the origin of religious beliefs . Some religions depict history from life in this world. Some evidence of related topics can be found in a number of mythologies in a number of locations and become a reference for learning the history of the existence of a religion.
  • Mythology as a source and reference of literature. As already shown, many sources of literature or other types of writing come from ancient mythology. The existence of mythology enriches the writer’s imagination and inspires them when writing.
  • Mythology as the origin of science and philosophy . Questions such as “how can fire be formed”, or “why is there day and night”, arise from human curiosity, and are further strengthened by the existence of myths of the past.

In Indonesia itself, we have directly learned folk tales when we were still sitting at school. Reader must have had Indonesian lessons about folklore in various regions. This is indirectly our way of getting the benefits that have been mentioned.

That is the explanation of the meaning of mythology, from us,