What We Can Learn From Mythology

Why we shouldn't cast mythology aside and instead embrace it as a way to expand our worldviews
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Created by Moeid Irfan

Published on Feb 15, 2024
Statue of Poseidon
Atlantios from pixabay

From the moment that man has set foot on this planet, he has gazed upon countless spectacles around him. Like the sun’s rising to its setting, the arrival of summer to its departure, the birth of man to his demise. Men at that time just couldn’t fathom all of these laws of nature, and that’s where man’s imagination comes into play, as it is human nature to try to explain the unexplainable.
These explanations are now widely known by the name of “Mythology”. Mythology can be defined as a set of stories from ancient eras that either try to explain nature or try to teach a lesson. The most popular among all mythologies is undoubtedly, Greek Mythology. As the name suggests, it was the Greeks who came up with this type of mythology. 
If you’ve come across any of these myths, then you have to admit that as stand-alone stories, they are quite innovative and entertaining, but the question arises, why are mythologies still widely read in this modern age? To answer this, let me narrate arguably the most renowned and classical myth which is the myth of Sisyphus and his eternal punishment. 
According to Greek mythology, Sisyphus was an ancient King renowned for his deceitfulness. Upon his death, through a cunning scheme, he managed to cheat Thanatos, the personification of death itself. This act of defiance made the God’s blood boil. Such an act of disobedience surely warranted the most extreme punishment and certainly, the Gods did not disappoint.
The specifics of the punishment vary, but there is a general consensus that the arduous punishment involved Sisyphus being condemned to roll a boulder up a hill just for the boulder to roll back and him having to repeat this futile task again and again for eternity.
This myth in question has sparked literary and philosophical debate for centuries. This is apparent from Albert Camus’s philosophical essay “The Myth of Sisyphus” in which he has built his whole philosophical argument on the foundations of this story.
In general, myths give us knowledge and further our understanding of ancient literature. In addition, it also provides us insight into the culture of ancient sects as the people who made these mythologies incorporated their respective cultures to enrich their stories.
Aside from this, after reading even an excerpt from mythologies, it is evident that the Greeks were splendid storytellers. They were the Shakespears of their era. Therefore, it comes as no surprise when some of these stories are viewed as the pinnacle of literature. These convey pivotal morals through enticing narrations which grip the reader’s attention. Through these captivating stories, a reader learns a great deal about ethics, morality, and philosophy. 
Therefore, instead of discouraging these stories, we need to encourage the reading of them as they can greatly benefit our intellectual growth. In the end, I would like to impart a quote from the aforementioned Albert Camus that encapsulates the crux of this article perfectly. 
“Fiction is the lie which tells the truth”.

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