Definitions and Origins

Philosophy and Psychology of Myths

Can myths be factually based?

There have always been attempts to tie myths to historical events. Flood myths particularly have been linked to actual floods such as those of the Nile in Egypt and the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia (Iraq). Heroes, too, are sometimes linked to historical figures. Some scholars have linked the Greek tragic hero Oedipus with the actual Egyptian king, Akhenaten. Certain culture heroes are, in fact, apparently based at least to some extent in fact. There may well have been a King Gilgamesh in ancient Sumer, for instance, or even a Prince Hector in Troy. Attempts to link myth to history, however, tend to ignore the metaphorical or religious importance of myths themselves. It seems likely that myths, like dreams, make use of factual experiences of individuals and cultures, but have power and meaning that transcend such factual experiences.


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