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 The Power of Myths

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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptySat 11 Jan 2020, 21:20

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
In the interests of fairness I suppose it should be mentioned that there have been comedy westerns.  I can think of Blazing Saddles which I liked though there have been others.  

Not relating to a comedy - maybe my 12 year old self was soppy but I was really pleased when Chico turned round at the end of The Magnificent Seven to go back to the village girl.

When I thought about the "wild hunt" and "Ghost Riders in the Sky" I was thinking of the phenomenon of myths travelling from one part of the world to another.  I had wondered if the song "Ghost Riders in the Sky" had come about because it had been inspired by tales from settlers to the USA who came from Poland or other parts of Eastern Europe but it may have been pure co-incidence.

And at the other end of the cinematic spectrum there are even arthouse Westerns such as Dead Man from 1995 starring Johnny Depp. The oldest known Western is believed to be a short film called Kidnapping By Indians:

Kidnapping By Indians

Made in Blackburn, Lancashire in 1899 it shows the genre’s popularity (and even origin) outside of North America. And neither are Western-type myths restricted to that continent. 1906 saw the world’s first feature-length film called The Story of the Kelly Gang filmed in Victoria, Australia and depicting the exploits of Ned Kelly etc only 26 years earlier. This gives a nod to Paul’s point about the popularity of Robin Hood type characters in popular mythology. Staying with the Antipodes, 1983 saw the making of Geoff Murphy's film Utu which is set during the New Zealand wars of the 1860s. It was described in the press at the time as a 'Kiwi western'. I don't know how historically accurate it is but it's a brilliant film for sheer entertainment value.

There are quite a few Eastern European links to the genre LiR. Take Res Historica’s very own Tumbleweed Suite for example. The tumbleweed (Salsola kali) is a native of the Russian and Kazakh steppes, seeds of which were transported to North America in the 19th Century. Needless to say that the tumbleweed would later become an iconic staple of Westerns almost uniquely identified with that part of the world and eclipsing its Eurasian origins.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Edit: Joined the SITE in 2013 not the thread.   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptySun 12 Jan 2020, 07:53

I read through the 'Outlaw as Folk Hero' thread from early 2013 (I joined this site in autumn 2013).  Robin Hood was mentioned there and Aelfwine had referred to Lady Catherine Ferrers who inspired "the wicked lady". I can't remember its name - there was a book I read some years ago about outlaw barons (but that's not the name because I just tried it unsuccessfully in Google) - Hereward the Wake and Robin Hood were mentioned along with Fulk Fitzwarin.

I didn't know about the tumbling tumbleweed originating in the steppes.  One of the ladies in the Blackburn "western" was showing a lot of leg (albeit covered) in 1899.  I thought that clip was a hoot.  I did type something on another thread about the early British film industry but it never really took off.

My understanding is that circa the late 19th century/early 20th century "wild west" shows visited Britain so maybe that sparked an interest in the American west.  If I remember correctly in The Heart of Midlothian by Walter Scott Effie's missing son eventually moves to the USA.

I must admit that I had the idea that John Keats's poem about old Meg Merrilees the gypsy was a type of "fan fiction" of "Meg Murdockson" in The Heart of Midlothian but I may have been wrong - Meg M---s is a lot more pleasant than Meg M---n.  EDIT.  Meg Merrilees was indeed a character in a WS novel but in Guy Mannering not The Heart of Midlothian.

"Fan fiction" - story/stories about fictional characters written by someone other than the original writer - if I wrote stories about, say, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm fame it would be "fan fiction".
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyMon 13 Jan 2020, 08:57

Whereas in the UK or Belgium a "false nostalgia" invoked by the myth concerning the American "wild west" (to which Hollywood massively contributed though whose actual origins were of course rather more diffuse and varied) might manifest itself primarily in people of a certain age these days reminiscing about crushes on John Wayne and similar fond cinema-going memories from their youth, in the USA investment in that myth contributed over a long period to a much more sinister and ultimately inhumane attitude towards the indigenous people in whose appropriated land the myth was geographically sited and whose history, character, intelligence and motives all had to be perverted to keep the myth alive. The same myth served African Americans little better, basically eliminating their actual participation in establishing the "real" culture on which the myth was based. Both of these fundamentally racist perversions of reality, however much they may have contributed to a myth in which "ordinary" white people could interpret this period of history later either as a source of justification for and pride in the racially imbalanced society that emerged from it, or if they were sufficiently removed from its actual effect simply as a source of entertainment and enjoyment in the yarns and legends it spawned, became and persevered as essential ingredients in the myth therefore for reasons more to do with ongoing social biases throughout the century or so afterwards than any single attributable motive on the part of the myth's original promulgators. Britain's very early popular investment in the "wild west" myth, for example, can be largely attributed to the huge success that "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show" enjoyed in that country and throughout Europe (some years in fact ahead of an American equivalent). However Cody's own relationship with and attitude towards Native Americans were much more nuanced and supportive than their simplistic portrayal in his own shows portrayed, and which he was not reticent in expressing in interviews and statements at the time. However it was his portrayal of them (dictated largely by meeting audience expectations for purely commercial reasons) rather than his actual sentiment that prevailed, and the same portrayal was further adopted and enhanced as a perversion of actual history for many years afterwards, both in popular entertainment and indeed in school text books in American educational curricula.

In recent decades (I have always assumed "Blazing Saddles" to have been the final nail in the coffin of the myth's more obnoxious perversions of reality) most Hollywood contributions to the myth have tried, belatedly, to redress some of these gross imbalances and to incorporate especially more "realistic" portrayals and interpretations of what might loosely be termed "non-white" participation in the world of the "cowboy". Laudable intent of course, but even the most sincere film makers unavoidably push two other elements of this particular myth which, at this point should they be omitted, would actually lose their productions credibility and render them non-viable commercial propositions. The less than two decade long period in actuality in which "cowboy" as a trade drew masses of unskilled and otherwise unemployable labour to the western territories must still be portrayed through implication as a longer period in its own right, long enough to have had time to develop its own styles, ethos, and uniformity of character (none of which is historically true). The extent of the actual participation of non-white ethnicity, sometimes in very fundamental political, economic and military ways, is still largely ignored in favour of portraying such involvement as "aberrational". To do otherwise at this point would simply "confuse" an audience who, even if members of which might have learnt something more about the early development of newly appropriated lands in the late 19th century than that which they have only gleaned from "western" movies, has still unavoidably inherited a "history" of the period that itself has been written in the main by others who equally invested in at least most of the myth themselves. Such is the way it goes with myth - regardless of the motives in originating a myth, once it permeates and pollutes the historical record and perceptions of history it becomes extremely difficult to disentangle and deconstruct afterwards.

So sorry for bringing the topic back to its original title - but in a discussion about the "power" of myth, and if one is using the American "wild west" as an example, then I would suggest that this particular myth is actually a very good example of how this includes the power to insidiously invade historical perception. And though this is rarely a "power" that a myth's originators might have necessarily presumed or anticipated, it is certainly one that is exercised through its commission and later endurance (an endurance and popularity often fuelled by such innocent and benign motives as having once had a crush on Marion Mitchell Morrison).
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyMon 13 Jan 2020, 12:10

Crumbs, nordmann, in this instance I honestly didn't realise I had taken the thread off on a tangent.  There have been a couple of times I've posted about something that piqued my interest* only to find that someone had mentioned it in another thread previously so I did a search to see if the site already featured threads on myth and this one seemed (to me) the most apt for my comment.  I wasn't sure that the matter merited creating a "travelling myth" separate thread.  In one of James A Michener's epic novels there was a subplot where a white girl was rescued from the Apache by a Buffalo (African American) soldier but someone white takes the credit for it.  It might have been his book "Texas" but he wrote so many sweeping tales (which I have liked as a reader) I can't be sure.  I've heard of the Donner Party where a wagon train met such horrific conditions that the survivors or some of them at least turned to cannibalism - a very gristly thought.  I don't think they actually killed anyone but used bodies of people already dead.

I suppose the version of Richard I as the good brother and the person who later became King John as the bad brother could arguably be considered myth-making.  Also a lot of retellings of the stories of the sons of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine dwell less on the other two brothers, Henry the young king and Geoffrey (I'm not saying perforce they leave them out altogether).  There is someone who has a Henry the Young King blog though to be honest I haven't read much of it.

* I mentioned something on a thread about the custom of "bacha posh" - where prepubescent girls dress as boys in some patriarchal societies if there are no boys in the family but another contributor (I think Caro) had already mentioned that subject).
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyMon 13 Jan 2020, 14:06

Haven't we gone off tangent here because we are confusing myths and legends? Years ago, in the heady early days of early Res Historica (October 2012 actually), I replied to a poster named Arwe Rheged who, alas, has long since disappeared:

@Arwe Rheged wrote:

Joking aside, I think there is a significant overlap between legend and myth.

I wrote:


And with folklore too, I suppose. But strictly speaking, isn't a myth just a cracking story - often a *sacred* story - pertaining to gods, goddesses and fabulous creatures - an attempt to explain things, including the origin of things and such like? A myth helps us to *try* to make sense of what we - puny mortals that we are - cannot really understand?
Your very distressing moggy-in-the-microwave example is surely *not* a myth, but an urban legend (urban myth is these days used synonomously - and incorrectly - for the same kind of story). Urban simply means modern or contemporary here. Your wretched cat would only be a character in a *proper* myth were she, say, the goddess Bastet subjected to some terrible cruelty in a story which attempts to explain some great truth to us.

Well, I think so anyway - these days, alas, I'm not sure of anything.

So are Wild West folktales true "myths"? I don't think so.

If it is any comfort, LiR, as a child I had a crush on Richard Greene who played Robin Hood. Worryingly, as a grown woman, I later transferred my affections to the Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman):


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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyMon 13 Jan 2020, 14:50

I agree - it's an important distinction, and the Wild West myth illustrates this too.

Wyatt Earp's or Jesse James' or even "The Man With No Name's" or "The Lone Ranger's" exploits, for example, are legends. The context in which all these legendary exploits take place and in which they and the characters performing them "make sense" is mythical. The myth disguises the truth from history, the legends simply constitute the more visible elements of the smokescreen.

Or, as the Cherokee joke goes these days:
"How do you really make a Lonesome Prairie?"
"Introduce white men with firearms".

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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyMon 13 Jan 2020, 22:14

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
My understanding is that circa the late 19th century/early 20th century "wild west" shows visited Britain so maybe that sparked an interest in the American west.  If I remember correctly in The Heart of Midlothian by Walter Scott Effie's missing son eventually moves to the USA.
 
LiR,

Wild West shows, especially from Buffalo Bill. I made a thread about William F. Cody.

https://reshistorica.forumotion.com/t1065-buffalo-bill

One can find back the removed youtubes on the internet.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyMon 13 Jan 2020, 23:03

@nordmann wrote:
So sorry for bringing the topic back to its original title - but in a discussion about the "power" of myth, and if one is using the American "wild west" as an example, then I would suggest that this particular myth is actually a very good example of how this includes the power to insidiously invade historical perception. And though this is rarely a "power" that a myth's originators might have necessarily presumed or anticipated, it is certainly one that is exercised through its commission and later endurance (an endurance and popularity often fuelled by such innocent and benign motives as having once had a crush on Marion Mitchell Morrison).
 
nordmann,

thank you very much for putting the American "wild west" into its context of the myth forming. And I understand your drift.

I haven't seen "Blazing Saddles" but looking to the wiki, I understand what you said.

I have seen "Broken Arrow" in the Fifties and there was perhaps already a timide (as it was already commented I remember from the Fifties In Ostend) opening of a change of attitude towards the myth? Or was that only temporarly?
As I read also in the wiki:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_Arrow_(1950_film)

And for all those nostalgic oldies:



Kind regards, Paul.
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Dirk Marinus
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyTue 14 Jan 2020, 06:48

Power of myth??

     No doubt myth is powerful.

 The existence of the various religions around the world is evidence enough that myth(s) has power.

Dirk
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyTue 14 Jan 2020, 15:10

@Dirk Marinus wrote:
Power of myth??

     No doubt myth is powerful.

 The existence of the various religions around the world is evidence enough that myth(s) has power.


Of course, but not "religion" in the narrow sense that leads to endless, futile discussion about whether, for example, Jesus of Nazareth really "existed".

Those brilliant Greeks understood so much and, as I have said previously on this thread, we can still receive so much "truth" from the stories of their ancient gods and goddesses  (plus assorted nymphs and weird creatures) - if we are willing to do so.


I wrote:


Myth and Jungian archetypes...are these simply discredited and out-of-date ideas, or a genuine understanding of the power of myth which is relevant  to us all today, ideas which we ignore or discard at our peril? Now that could provoke an interesting discussion - or could have done in happier times. ...Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit. Don't know the Greek version, but I believe Jung pinched that idea from the Delphic oracle (like you do).

"Deus aderit"? Maybe not the usual singular "God" with the capital letter, but perhaps those ancient Olympian gods are still with us - metaphorically speaking - summoned or not summoned*? They show up regularly, trying to warn, to teach - or to punish - and we do indeed deny/ignore them them at our peril. Perhaps the wretched Prince Harry of Wales should read up about Atë, the goddess of mischief, delusion, infatuation, ruin and folly. That rather unpleasant daughter of Zeus has been having a fine old time here in our Sceptred Isle recently.

PS No, I haven't become a Pagan.

PPS Not sure how to translate "vocatus" - called, called upon, bidden, summoned, conjured up...?
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyTue 14 Jan 2020, 18:07

Well we still hear references sometimes to "Mother Nature" and "Mother Earth" though I'm sure the people making the references don't believe in an earth goddess or a nature goddess.
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyTue 14 Jan 2020, 19:08

@Temperance wrote:
@Dirk Marinus wrote:
 The existence of the various religions around the world is evidence enough that myth(s) has power.

Of course, but not "religion" in the narrow sense that leads to endless, futile discussion about whether, for example, Jesus of Nazareth really "existed".

Or even Spartacus:

The Power of Myths - Page 4 Hqdefault

Made the same year (1960) as The Magnificent Seven, Stanley Kubrick’s film of the events of Third Servile War 73-71 BC didn’t achieve anything like the popularity in the Soviet Union as did the Western featuring Russia’s very own Yul Brynner. Whereas The Magnificent Seven was being shown in Soviet cinemas to record audiences within 2 years of its American release, Spartacus had to wait 7 years before getting a somewhat grudging thumbs up from the Kremlin’s censors and then a lukewarm reception from Soviet cinema-goers. One would have thought that the Spartacus story would have been the Soviet first choice bar none and the inclusion of the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo as screenplay writer would have easily tipped it in its favour. But apparently not. They probably considered it inferior to Aram Khachaturian’s 1954 ballet which was still doing the rounds at the Kirov and the Bolshoi etc. Whatever the reason, you’re absolutely right though Temp that we’re really talking about legends here rather than myths.

P.S. For his very few postings Arwe Rheged was one of the most insightful posters we ever had on Res Hist – and with a very dry sense of humour too!
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyTue 14 Jan 2020, 19:47

@Temperance wrote:
@Dirk Marinus wrote:
Power of myth??

     No doubt myth is powerful.

 The existence of the various religions around the world is evidence enough that myth(s) has power.


Of course, but not "religion" in the narrow sense that leads to endless, futile discussion about whether, for example, Jesus of Nazareth really "existed".

Those brilliant Greeks understood so much and, as I have said previously on this thread, we can still receive so much "truth" from the stories of their ancient gods and goddesses  (plus assorted nymphs and weird creatures) - if we are willing to do so.


I wrote:


Myth and Jungian archetypes...are these simply discredited and out-of-date ideas, or a genuine understanding of the power of myth which is relevant  to us all today, ideas which we ignore or discard at our peril? Now that could provoke an interesting discussion - or could have done in happier times. ...Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit. Don't know the Greek version, but I believe Jung pinched that idea from the Delphic oracle (like you do).

"Deus aderit"? Maybe not the usual singular "God" with the capital letter, but perhaps those ancient Olympian gods are still with us - metaphorically speaking - summoned or not summoned*? They show up regularly, trying to warn, to teach - or to punish - and we do indeed deny/ignore them them at our peril. Perhaps the wretched Prince Harry of Wales should read up about Atë, the goddess of mischief, delusion, infatuation, ruin and folly. That rather unpleasant daughter of Zeus has been having a fine old time here in our Sceptred Isle recently.

PS No, I haven't become a Pagan.

PPS Not sure how to translate "vocatus" - called, called upon, bidden, summoned, conjured up...?

Temperance,

I wanted to speak about parables, but we discussed it already I suppose with nordmann upstream and it is perhaps not worthwhile to reitereate it all.
But I said already somewhere in the thread that I thought I understood you. Myths can be the search for the existence of mankind and individuals in the cosmos and try each on their manner (in each part of the world)  to make an explication of their place in that cosmos. Explication from which we can learn.

At least that is what remained with me on the first sight and preliminary from this study in the Britannica, while I am still reading.
https://www.britannica.com/topic/myth
Click on the three names for information about the three names.

I hope that nordmann finds the time to read it, while I think he is the only one here, who can make a résumé and comments on this long and difficult essay.

PS. If I understood it well there are similarities between the kind of myths of the several cultures spread all over the world? Some basic human approach all over the world?

Kind regards from Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyWed 15 Jan 2020, 11:34

Paul wrote:
I hope that nordmann finds the time to read it, while I think he is the only one here, who can make a résumé and comments on this long and difficult essay.

I'm sure everyone here is well capable of reading the essay for themselves and provide their own summaries.

With regard to this thread's title however I am not sure it is at all relevant to focus on the constituent elements of myth or indeed on the varied approaches employed to identify these component variants and how best to categorise or analyse them. As long as one acknowledges that myth will inevitably contain some or all of these variant components, and that myth serves many functions from the etiological to the instructive with quite a bit of sheer entertainment often thrown into the mix, then one can instead focus on what this thread purports to address - what "power" does myth exercise on this basis?

Myth, for example, very often reveals a power to captivate the human imagination while simultaneously engaging the human intellect, for what ever reason or by whichever method each myth might utilise to this end. In fact I would suggest that a myth without this power in particular hardly qualifies as such, and indeed would most likely never survive at all.

Myth also has a power to constrain communal and social development within a certain trajectory less likely to be derailed or influenced by externally applied forces. This may in fact be by far the most important power myth could ever possess - it is certainly the one that contributes most to its potential for intergenerational longevity and which has the most potential for becoming a causal element in how a society is structured and behaves rather than simply an expression of these mores and structures (which it is by default anyway).

Outside of these two powers however is where the meat of this thread as a discussion really should be found, I reckon. For example, does a myth with a preponderance of etiological content over its pure fable content exercise a different power to one with that ratio reversed? And if so, how does this power manifest itself within that society and with what effect? Does a myth with more historical claim to its content in any sense trump one without this claim (or vice versa) and then how do we recognise this comparison?

Is the "power" we attribute to myth for any of these reasons, regardless of each myth's disparate nature, one that ultimately derives from within the myth as a trait and which we acknowledge, or is it one we assign to the myth for other reasons rooted more in social behaviour and/or the human psyche itself? And whether the power is assumed, assigned or deduced, what does this say regarding how our obvious traditional dependency on myth developed and to what extent this is still true, or even should be true at all? If myth is simply human invention in potent form, where exactly should we be looking for the real root of any power the myth possesses?

So rather than getting hung up on whether a parable versus a legend versus a fairytale has more or less worth as a mythical element, or even if the very vagueness and generality of the term "myth" precludes tidy compartmentalisation of its components in any case, I would prefer to remain true to the generally accepted academic distinction of what separates myth from reality, myth from legend/parable/folktale etc, and to discuss the "power" this feature of human belief, history and tradition truly exercises, if any (as the thread title also implied).
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyWed 15 Jan 2020, 22:23

@nordmann wrote:
Is the "power" we attribute to myth for any of these reasons, regardless of each myth's disparate nature, one that ultimately derives from within the myth as a trait and which we acknowledge, or is it one we assign to the myth for other reasons rooted more in social behaviour and/or the human psyche itself? And whether the power is assumed, assigned or deduced, what does this say regarding how our obvious traditional dependency on myth developed and to what extent this is still true, or even should be true at all? If myth is simply human invention in potent form, where exactly should we be looking for the real root of any power the myth possesses?

So rather than getting hung up on whether a parable versus a legend versus a fairytale has more or less worth as a mythical element, or even if the very vagueness and generality of the term "myth" precludes tidy compartmentalisation of its components in any case, I would prefer to remain true to the generally accepted academic distinction of what separates myth from reality, myth from legend/parable/folktale etc, and to discuss the "power" this feature of human belief, history and tradition truly exercises, if any (as the thread title also implied).

nordmann, I knew I had to ask you.

And I received just what I wanted. Thank you for this really good comments. 

I just read it in the beginning of the evening and want to read it a second and perhaps a third time, to try to comment.
And what a language...I tried to find only one single fault, but no...How do you do that?

"had to search for "etiological". May I say also "causal"?
https://www.dictionary.com/browse/etiological

And indeed the thread is about the "power" of myths. And that is an interesting question, where I want to try to comment your interesting paragraphs here mentioned above.

Kind regards, Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyThu 16 Jan 2020, 09:01

Etiological myth provides a purported origin to something's existence that normally involves quite a lot of imagination but very little actual history or sense. Examples range from wolves suckling twins born to a rape victim (Rome) to a young Jewish girl being impregnated through their ear with divine semen delivered by an angel (official church myth for several centuries explaining the origin of Cheeses - or something similar). In fact when you think about it rape of virgins features in quite a suspiciously large amount of etiological stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyThu 16 Jan 2020, 23:30

@nordmann wrote:
Is the "power" we attribute to myth for any of these reasons, regardless of each myth's disparate nature, one that ultimately derives from within the myth as a trait and which we acknowledge, or is it one we assign to the myth for other reasons rooted more in social behaviour and/or the human psyche itself? And whether the power is assumed, assigned or deduced, what does this say regarding how our obvious traditional dependency on myth developed and to what extent this is still true, or even should be true at all? If myth is simply human invention in potent form, where exactly should we be looking for the real root of any power the myth possesses?


nordmann,

when you said: "a power of the myth that derives from the myth as a trait and which we acknowledge" I understand "acknowledge" as a trait that we recognize the importance or quality of. I have difficulties with the translation of that word, perhaps while I haven't the full knowledge of what it means in English...

Anyway, I would in any case choose for the second proposal:
a power of the myth that derives from reasons rooted in social behaviour and human psyche.

I think it all goes back to the very beginning of humanity, when we probably by the interaction of living in groups got an ever more complex thinking. A thinking which could visualize events in the mind that were past and thinking about events that could happen in the future. Even create symbols, which represent abstract thougts.

I wouldn't go that far as we discussed here about the American professor, who found "religion" in the genetics of humans and was therefore as mentioned heavely criticized by his colleagues, but some social behaviour is heritated from our human ancestry I think.

Very early one had people, who had sparetime to think and to create symbolic visualisations of their thinking. as a social group they encountered the great events in their members group as birth and death and marriage. They started rituals to commerate this. And as the groups became larger they had leaders for both the abstract and the everyday world. As we discussed in the "Gods and kings" thread overhere, there was from the beginning on always a close cooperation between the two.

And in these organisations, people started to think about the outerworld, which they didn't fully understood with their primitive abstract thinking.
And some abstract thinkers from the group emerged to create "stories" about the place in the outer world of their group and about the genesis of their group in that outer world. As there had grown in the group through the social connections a kind of a moral social behaviour, that too was implicated in the "stories" and that all for the comfort of the common man, who felt threatened in that dangerous outer world.

So, as it is a well constructed myth, it can survive, for quite a time, even if logical thinking sees the anomalies in the myth I think that the human psyche is comforted by this unlogical groups thinking, while they prefer it to the rational thinking, which needs to replace those myths with difficult other perspectives than the comforting myth.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyFri 17 Jan 2020, 13:12

You're referring there, in as far as I understand your points, mainly to what might be loosely called "religious" myth, in which narrow definition of the term most of what you say might well be the truth of it, or at least cannot readily be contradicted since we can only guess based on quite liberal presumption regarding how and why such distant ancestors may have applied thought to any existential challenges they recognised.

Myth though is of course a much broader category than simply one containing religious etiological substance and, in fact, even most religious myth goes far beyond this simple etiological role. As Temp also noted earlier, that which typifies myth (or at least the most successful variants) is that it conveys a sense of "truth", even when its constituent elements hardly disguise or even attempt to conceal their obvious origins in pure imagination anyway. Such "truth" may well be applied in an etiological and fabulous fiction within the narrative, though certainly does not have to be, and is best summed up therefore as one that transcends its own dubious context. If you take the "Fall from Grace" fable within Christian myth, for example, and no matter how much you theologically or philosophically dissect the content (which is certainly presented as an etiological component), there is an underlining statement concerning humanity' relationship as an inferior element with a vastly superior universal environment, a statement which also warns in no uncertain terms that human hubris and misunderstanding of our actual place in that universe carries serious consequences. This truth transcends the quality of the narrative, or the requirement to adopt the myth or the story within it as religious tenet, and will even survive all but the most careless translation of the myth through countless languages, generations and even the various religious theologies in which it has been employed. In other words it comes down to us, its latest audience, with practically all the solidity, dependability and trustworthiness of the most basic empirical truth derived through more usually reliable methods such as mathematical or philosophical deductive, reductive or abductive reasoning.

My point - or at least my open ended question - concerned not whether such myth has power (it obviously does for the reason stated above), but to what extent we might mistakenly ascribe such power to myth as if the myth itself had generated this quality, simply for having been a powerful myth. To me this smacks of somewhat circular reasoning, and especially when one considers that a really powerful truth packaged within a myth (such as the one I mentioned above) has almost certainly therefore featured in several different myths, and has been around in such a form long enough for us to be fairly guaranteed that whichever myth in which we first encountered it was hardly likely to have been the actual origin of that truth, even in mythical form.

This would tend to suggest therefore that the myth, besides being far more ancient than presumed, and on the strength of its amazingly consistent epistemological function throughout all that time, is secondary therefore to the imagination required to invent it, consistently re-invent it, and fundamentally to consistently understand it by everyone over human history. Any power (to impress, convince, amuse, control, etc), in other words, is not contained within the myth but originates fundamentally with the humans who perpetuate it, and this is true for all myths.

If such is true then "ending" a myth is no simple proposition at all, since to do so requires the removal of a need on the part of a huge critical mass of humanity to require to know the truth that is embedded within it. And I would suggest that this is borne out in reality too - for example where competing religions have struggled to eliminate vestiges of theologies that went before them they have often succeeded completely in removing memory of the old devotions, rituals, theological niceties and practices from mass memory, but have failed utterly in eliminating the inherent mythical elements that contained such transcendent truth within them. What has been far more usual is that they have simply adopted, adapted or otherwise incorporated these myths into their new doctrines.

Which of course means that myth will be forever more powerful than religion, per se. And, as "we" are the ultimate originators and custodians of myth and it is our imaginations in which the power of myth might well ultimately reside, this would tend to suggest that we may at some future point even dispense with a requirement for religion at all. However whether we can ever dispense with a requirement for myth (which after all is no slave to religion in itself or utilised purely for that function) is by no means obvious.

Which may say a lot about people ...
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyFri 17 Jan 2020, 19:40

I don't want to take the thread down long and winding roads, but as a person born in England of part-Irish descent* I can remember in my youth that many of the pure bred Irish people I knew (who tended to be Catholic) would do things like making the sign of the cross when they passed a church and when I visited Ireland with my late mother in the mid-1970s I remember someone else who was visiting Ireland at the same time (from the USA or Canada I don't remember which) said of Dublin "This town is lousy with nuns" but in modern times (though I've not been to Ireland for ages) clergy and religious seem to be somewhat unpopular (though I'm not saying everyone hates them).  I seem to have a memory of nordmann giving some explanation for the secularisation of Eire in another thread but I can't think where it was.  I know the secularisation of a country isn't quite the same as the decline of the power of myth.

I can recall talking with the mother of a childhood friend (and this lady only died a few years ago) about changes generally - not in this case about religious matters but she mentioned how there would be special assemblies at school for "Empire Day" and how that had fallen out of use.  Now there is no doubt that there was a British Empire for a period of time but was the "empire" as celebrated thus or maybe the notion of empire a myth in itself?

* Both my parents were half Irish.
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyFri 17 Jan 2020, 21:57

nordmann, yes you can be right that could be understood as a referring to "religious" myths, but I saw it broader. although then perhaps I hadn't to speak about "Kings and Gods" and the relation between the two.

And yes I meant it more in your sense, if I understood you right. Related to the transcedent basic questions and concerns of human beings.
I found in the dictionary online: transcendent: beyond or above the range of normal and physical human experience.

You referred to Temperance's "sense of "truth"" and later you speak, again if I understand you well, about "powerfull" myths, where what counts and what remains in the people's minds (and proof of the power of the myth) is the transcendent truth. But what is there "truth"?
But I would rather replace the word "truth" with basic questions and concerns of human beings?

In that sense: Are the genesis myths from all over the world also powerful searchs for a transcendent quest?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_creation_myths

Myths related to the search of why we are here?, what the meaning is of our life here on earth? about our search for happiness?
Temperance and I had, perhaps in this thread, a question: How to be happy in life. And I answered: to be positive, to have permanentely goals in life, to be there always for others, while true happiness comes nearly always from the hapiness to have done something for someone else. And now I see under the thread about the "meaning of life" that I, without knowing it, had shown: secular humanism...

Perhaps not so much to do with myths, but perhaps related...as I see it and note it, the human psyche seems to have still in the 21th century to have need for symbols, pomp and ceremony...is that also something inherent to the human psyche?

In that light are the 19th century romantic "national" myths of old and emerging "nation-states" lack then that power of transcendence? And are they doomed by the more rational thinking of nowadays to fade away?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptySat 18 Jan 2020, 21:26

Paul, 
in your reply above you mention:


Myths related to the search of why we are here?, what the meaning is of our life here on earth? " 



What about why we are here and the meaning of our life here on earth is "TO REPRODUCE"

Just a suggestion but it has often been said that to reproduce is the reason we are here on earth.

Myth or fact?

Dirk
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptySun 19 Jan 2020, 22:23

Dirk,

yes, sexuality and sexual reproducing  is one of the stimuli for evolution and as an advantage over asexual one...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_reproduction
"Sexual selection is a mode of natural selection in which some individuals out-reproduce others of a population because they are better at securing mates for sexual reproduction.[7][8] It has been described as "a powerful evolutionary force that does not exist in asexual populations."[9]

And as such, sexual "drift" (spelling?) is embedded in mammals and all that. We were learned in our Catholic college that one had to contain, keeping in check (in bedwang houden) our "driften" (rages?) (meant sexual rages) and with a bad connotation...we had to wait till marriage...(Drift seems to exist in English too, but I guess more in the second meaning of the Dutch word "drift"?)

But as it was so fundamental it had also a preponderant place in art and myths
https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vruchtbaarheidsgodin

The Power of Myths - Page 4 250px-VenusWillendorf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_love_and_lust_deities

But I have the impression, that all that myth and art "gedoe" (stuff?) has no place in the work of 
Desmond Morriss'
"De naakte aap" (I read it in Dutch)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Naked_Ape
and later in Richard Dawkins' Selfish gene.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Selfish_Gene

Is Dawkins going that far to reduce evolution and mankind to some mere combination of chemical processes? And what then with our supposed predisposition in the human psyche for myths, pomp and ceremony...perhaps also for hiearchy and groupsforming?...

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyMon 20 Jan 2020, 09:31

@Dirk Marinus wrote:
Paul, 
in your reply above you mention:


Myths related to the search of why we are here?, what the meaning is of our life here on earth? " 



What about why we are here and the meaning of our life here on earth is "TO REPRODUCE"

Just a suggestion but it has often been said that to reproduce is the reason we are here on earth.

Myth or fact?

Dirk

Dirk, I quoted your post in its entirety as it perfectly illustrates what happens when semantic confusion is used to intentionally derail a discussion or, as often happens with people who wish to prosecute a view unrelated to the actual discussion in progress, to instinctively obfuscate a point or a discussion's direction that is perceived as being dangerously close to undermining a position that person's "Weltanschauung" obliges them to adopt, along with whatever other agendas and views this may entail. Given the very next published point made above by a fellow interlocutor in the discussion right after your own it appears that the confusion, whether intended or not, achieved exactly what it normally does in such circumstances.

The word "myth" is probably more of a sitting duck than most when it comes to being thus employed in such unhelpful obfuscation. In one sense it relates to a self-contained collection of lore, mores, imaginative compositions, half-accurate accounts and implied metaphysical assertions that has, as a fundamental part of social evolution and conduct, achieved a status of general acceptance and trust in its content on the part of a consistently critical number of society's members. Its purpose can therefore be honed to include several disparate aims not necessarily better served through other means - two obvious ones being the prosecution of religious belief or simply the active encouragement of social cohesion through investment in its content. In quite another sense entirely, and one that is in fact only a very recent semantic development in common discourse, it can be a synonym for a lie.

You used it in both senses in your comment - and are either unaware that you did so, or intentionally did so. Either way, in my view, it calls the purpose of your comment into question. Semantic confusion, especially when suspected to have been employed with intent, at best derails a discussion to the point of premature conclusion, or at worst does this while intentionally subverting the meaning of what others say within the same discussion. It is a rhetorical ploy as old as rhetoric itself and is never considered as anything other than underhand at worst and ignorant at best.

So, getting back on topic while addressing the vaguely relevant point (to this topic) that you raised regarding "the purpose of life";

This, and other existential queries related to origin and ultimate destination shared by people throughout time, will indeed often form the basis of etiological components of certain myths (as already discussed here previously). However there are very few long-lasting or prevalent myths that confine themselves - or indeed can confine themselves if they are to remain classified as myth - exclusively to such a narrow point of address. Even when they do so they themselves tend to fall within a rather narrow range of myth classification, namely those which inform and address a requirement to understand human society in terms of "creation" and "purpose" (most often within the purview of religious myth). However a far more fascinating study of myth is in how those many myths and myth cycles which do not fall neatly into such a narrow categorisation (by far the majority of them in fact) also address these rather nebulous concerns subliminally or through implication. It is fascinating because, when or if one identifies this feature within any given myth, one can then better discern where and how the same technique within that myth addresses quite a few other social concerns indirectly. This ability to "answer" concerns that a myth may not directly acknowledge had even been asked is, in my view, one of the primary strengths of myths, pretty much in fact their raison d'être or at least an intrinsic strength which guarantees more than any other that any particular myth will survive and evolve over others.

I could give many examples of where this arises, but personally I am most familiar I suppose with the two great Irish myth cycles that emerged in the late Bronze Age and which made it into the medieval period still under evolution.They are divided using geographical terms (a "southern" and "northern" cycle) but historically can be seen to have emanated from within and serviced two distinct cultural paradigms that co-existed on the same island. The overlap is considerable in terms of language and social structures referenced within them, but the subjects of social relevance scrutinised in both are quite divergent. One addresses primarily issues of social order, especially the machinery by which this is maintained and the human qualities required to keep this machinery relevant and working. The other includes some features of the same approach but branches out into rather more existential issues regarding quality of life, benefits of virtue, dangers of dishonesty, and other rather more fundamental items of social and personal concern. Like any myth there are some stated "solutions" to such dilemmas embedded within particular elements, but by far the more common approach is to imply solution through less explicationary fables, and it is these which in fact have always gripped the imagination more than others and which even today are related even to children as an important part of their cultural heritage.

If you go through these rather complex myth cycles in depth you will find elements within one or the other related directly to "reproduction" (fertility of both land and humans being an issue of huge concern to those who originally invested in these myths), but in fact you will also find within the same cycles quite a few rather more philosophical treatments of the same subject in which, for example, notions of over-importance placed on such things as fertility being ultimately deleterious to both happiness and survival are also to be found. Within the southern cycle there is also even an entire group of legends and fables related to how society should view theological influence from without, some of which concern themselves with Christian theology, showing how these elements were being adapted and added beyond the late Iron Age. Within these "reproduction" in terms of human procreation may also be addressed, but not as a primary theme.

So, before next being tempted to equate "myth" with "lie" (especially immediately after having used it with more semantic precision but within a very limited definition of its scope), I would recommend you familiarise yourself more with myth itself - not just as a concept but with content that itself deserves your scrutiny. The Irish cycles are very accessible to this day so you could easily start there, but there are many more to choose from which have little or nothing to do with religion or spirituality of any kind and which certainly have never had as a starting point, temporally or contextually, a requirement to address fertility at all.
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyMon 20 Jan 2020, 18:11

Nordmann,

 That was quite a interesting posting but I was just commenting  my thoughts on the question:

"Myths related to the search of why we are here?, what the meaning is of our life here on earth? about our search for happiness?"


Can you give your thoughts on why we are here and what is the meaning of our life here on earth?


Dirk
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyMon 20 Jan 2020, 19:23

nordmann, thank you so much for your to the point essay. I read it to the core (in depth?)
And I am glad that through the intervention of Dirk and me, you were "pushed" to write your interesting reply from which we could learn...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyWed 22 Jan 2020, 08:45

Dirk - I take it from your curious response that you still limit your understanding of myths to those which attempt through explication and an etiological approach to define or illuminate what we might call "the human condition" (or "pre-condition" as one philosophy tutor once wryly remarked in a lecture I attended which humorously addressed that old thorny question once asked by Socrates "why did the Greeks hold their gods hostage to human folly?").

However, while some myth certainly addresses this issue, it by no means typifies myth at all. Where do King Arthur and Robin Hood fit into that definition, for example, to name just two well known, extremely robust, and long-lasting myths still current in Britain? One can certainly shoe-horn them into an etiological myth-cycle and pretend to see them as a source of "life lessons" but to do so is to vastly underestimate their real appeal, their real function, and of course therefore their real "power". Even within religious myth, which undoubtedly never shies away from as being as etiological as it can possibly get away with, one finds a wealth of other elements with no apparent etiological, explicationary, or even a moral point to their inclusion. While it may be tempting to dismiss these little side-steps away from the real etiological meat of any myth as mere padding, I would in fact argue that it is these very "side steps" that drive the myth itself, not only acting as a sort of contextual glue to hold any myth together and enhance its intrinsic logic but also being the very feature of myth that is most likely to contribute to human investment in its contents and therefore keep the myth alive and kicking in the imagination for the largest possible audience over the longest possible period of time.

If you genuinely want to pursue an investigation into "what is the meaning of life?" (and I see Paul has even tried to start a new thread here that he apparently hopes might elicit an answer greater than 42), I would suggest you start by avoiding myth altogether, especially those faux-explicatory ones which will pretend to do this very thing. The problem with myth as a source of wisdom (and much myth does indeed contain much wisdom) is that it subverts the real order of events - whatever wisdom myth contains has been placed there by the humans who concocted it and then by those who subsequently invested in it sufficiently to allow it to acquire an identity. When one is confused by the apparent solidity of this identity to the point that one assumes the wisdom was generated from within the myth itself then one has gone completely off the correct rails of inquiry and ended up shunting back and forth within a siding going nowhere in particular, albeit sometimes with a lovely view outside the window. Instead, recognise myth for the triumph of human imagination that it is, and then proceed rather more cautiously to the conclusion that those who invent them have always been just as confused as the rest of us when it comes to challenging Deep Thought with a better question.
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyWed 22 Jan 2020, 11:04

nordman, 

I am actually not that worried about myths/legends but I would  be interested in your  thoughts  about why are we (the human race) here on earth? 

Each and everyone of us will die, therefore the question: "what is actually the purpose of the human race on this earth during their life time?"


Dirk
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyWed 22 Jan 2020, 11:30

@Dirk Marinus wrote:

I am actually not that worried about myths/legends ... 


Then I humbly propose you are in the wrong discussion (note the thread's title) ...

But since we are off-topic anyway; why do you presume a purpose exists to be divined at all regarding any aspect of human existence (within one organism's lifetime or at a broader special level), at least beyond its obvious biological purpose determined by its facilitation of the topological dynamic system in which complex cellular life organises its composites to avoid extinction?

And to bring it back on-topic again, I might hazard to posit that the attainability of understanding purpose in human terms where no obvious or observable purpose exists is certainly a fundament to many myths, which even besides the obvious ones that pretend to directly address precisely such ultimately pointless questions as the one you have just asked, in fact all present within their self-justifying remits a preponderance of ontologically reductive purpose over constructively formulated effect based on actual observation of the very human behaviour that produced them in the first place.

But I reckon that's not the way you want this conversation to go ...
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyWed 22 Jan 2020, 14:12

nordman,

your" But I reckon that's not the way you want this conversation to go ..."

All I was actually interested in what are your thoughts about my question "why or what is the purpose of us being here on earth."



Dirk
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PostSubject: Re: The Power of Myths   The Power of Myths - Page 4 EmptyYesterday at 11:08

I did respond, on the appropriate thread that Paul started.
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