The Importance of Studying Mythology
It is not uncommon for parents to be wary of teaching their children about ancient mythologies. Though it is important to guard our hearts and minds, learning about ancient civilizations is also important. This is exceptionally true of Greek mythology because the allusions are far reaching and having a base knowledge will provide important context. While there are many reasons to learn about Greek mythology, here are the 3 most compelling reasons.
- Our western civilization has origins in ancient Greece. This first reason is pretty basic, but it cannot be overlooked. Because our society derives many ideologies from ancient Greece, it is helpful to be familiar with it. From democracy to love of arts to the Olympic games, the fingerprints of this long-gone society can be seen thousands of years later. Check out this link for a brief, but more thorough synopsis of how this ancient society greatly impacted our own.
- Allusions to Greek mythology are absolutely everywhere. Our language is steeped in allusions with many of our words being rooted in ancient Greece. Arachnophobia, echo, hypnosis, narcissism, and copious other words come from their stories. The reach does not end in our words, as many modern companies are named after aspects of mythology. Companies like Nike, Starbucks, and Amazon used Greek mythology as inspiration when choosing their names. Another important element regarding allusions is literature. Many classical authors (Shakespeare, Poe, Crane, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, etc.) allude to mythology within their writings. If you know the story behind the allusion, you will be able to better grasp the point and fully experience the rich meaning of the text you are reading.
- Greek mythology gives context to the world Jesus was born into. Before the birth of Jesus, God was silent for 400 years (the gap between the Old and New Testament). During those years, the Israelites were living in close communion with the Greeks. Though they had been warned not to take another belief system as their own, they were doing precisely that. Jesus’ birth came at the perfect time! Because these cultures had essentially integrated, He was able to completely turn both on their heads during this crucial time period. Though the spread of Christianity eventually eradicated the belief in the Olympians, the worship of these deities continued for several years after Jesus came. There are several references in the Bible. For example, read Acts 14. It tells the story of Paul and Barnabas being mistaken as Zeus and Hermes! What a predicament!
Ultimately, studying mythology gives us context into our world, our literature, and our own beliefs. The significance of these myths should not be overlooked, and even a foundational level of study will prove beneficial. Need a place to start? I recommend Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. You can purchase it here. Happy reading!
Here is a youtube video created by Mrs. Woods to support this blog post. Check it out!
You can take Mrs. Woods’ Mythology course too!
Jess Woods graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor's degree in English Education and from Arizona State University with a Master's degree in English. She began her career teaching in a public high school; however, since 2013, she has been teaching middle school and high school English courses online. Jess is a life-long reader and writer. She comes alive in the company of words and music, and she has a passion for literature that reaches through every part of her being. She believes wholeheartedly that each person has a relevant voice and perspective, and she eagerly teaches her students to embrace their individual voices by exploring their own thoughts and learning to confidently articulate them. It is her desire to encourage growth in all students (regardless of their love for English courses…or lack thereof). She considers it a tremendous success if she can awaken a love of literature and/or composition in her students. Jess currently resides in Alabama with her pastor-husband, Josh and their three kids. They also have a lot of animals and plants. While reading and writing are clearly on the top of her hobby list, Jess also enjoys all things musical, cooking competition shows, gardening, hiking, and traveling.