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Myth

See also:Mythology

A myth is a story which has deep explanatory or symbolic resonance for a culture. The term is sometimes used pejoratively in reference to common beliefs of a culture or for the beliefs of a religion to imply that the story is both fanciful and fictional. But even historical facts can serve as myths if they are important to a culture. Most often the term refers specifically to ancient tales from very old cultures, such as Greek mythology or Roman mythology. Some myths descended originally as part of an oral tradition and were only later written down, and many of them exist in multiple versions.

All cultures have developed over time their own mythology, consisting of legends of their history, their religions, and their heroes. The myths that make up a culture's mythology are stories with deep explanatory or symbolic resonance for a culture, which is the usual explanation for why they remain with the culture sometimes for thousands of years. Myths are therefore to be distinguished from fables, folktales, fairy tales, anecdotes, or simple fiction.

One notable genre of myth is the creation myth, a myth which explains how the Universe we observe was created, usually by God or gods.

Another genre of myth is the Trickster myth, a myth explaining events as the result of pranks or tricks played by one of the gods.

Joseph Campbell (March 26, 1904 - October 31, 1987) was considered the world's leading authority on myth and the history of spirituality.


Also, myth is often used in a journalistic sense to refer to a commonly held but erroneous belief.

e.g., see urban myth or urban legend.

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See also: Myth (computer game)



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