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Why do we study mythology?

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Quick Answer

Mythology is studied because myths are ways in which cultures attempt to explain the world and answer questions of human concern. For instance, mythology delves into such basic debates as good versus evil or looks into the nature of man.

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Mythology also illustrates different cultures and their narratives. The mythology of each culture is the accumulation of that culture's knowledge, wisdom and experience. Although mythologies differ, they often follow the same basic themes. For instance, several cultures have myths that deal with the afterlife and great floods. Many Middle Eastern cultures also have virgin-birth myths. Some archetypal themes deal with women of power, heroes, paradise and quests. The hero myth is about figures performing unbelievable feats. Heroes are in the mythology of most cultures. Hercules, the son of Zeus, is one of the most popular of these mythological figures. Kutoyis is a Native American Blackfoot hero who also has supernatural origins. In Britain there is the King Arthur myth. Heroes also come from religious mythology, such as Jesus Christ, Muhammad and Buddha.

Mythology is still prominent in aspects of modern culture, especially advertising, because of its universality and vibrant metaphors. For instance, the Trojan horse is still a metaphor for gifts that are not really gifts. When Camelot is referred to, it denotes a golden age of prosperity.

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