What does mythology teach us? - Maxicours

What does mythology teach us?

  • Découvrir un aspect de la notion d'étude fictions et réalités
  • Prendre conscience de l'impact des mythes antiques sur notre conception du monde
Points clés

Les mythes cherchent à expliquer le monde qui nous entoure: la naissance, la mort, le bien et le mal... Ils manifestent la manière dont une civilisation interprète le monde et la vie. En cela, ils nous apportent un enseignement :

  • Le mythe d'Hercule explique l'importance de contrôler ses émotions et de ne pas se laisser influencer
  • L'histoire de Dédale et de son fils Icare prouve l'importance de savoir écouter les conseils de ceux qui ont plus d'expérience
  • L'exemple d'Artémis et d'Apollon met en lumière que rien ne justifie jamais la violence
  • La triste fin de Narcisse rappelle qu'il est mauvais d'être autocentré et qu'il faut savoir aller vers les autres et au-delà des apparences.
  • Achille et son fameux talon sont là pour nous rappeler que nous possédons tous nos faiblesses.
  • À l'image de la déesse Hestia, n'oublie pas d'être hospitalier et accueillant avec les gens qui t'entourent.

Myths are not only sacred tales that entertain us, they are also meant to explain the world which surrounds us. Most myths deal with themes that are important to man: birth, life, death, good and evil... Myths are universal and each culture interprets the world they live in according to its own beliefs, consequently they have shaped the present civilizations. They are present everywhere, and references to Ulysses, Camelot, the Golden Fleece or the Trojan horse abound in literature, the arts or the cinema. But myths also have an educational role to play in the sense that they teach us something that will help us in our everyday life. This is what we are going to see here with examples taken from 6 Greek myths.

1. Hercules Helps Us Control our Anger

Hercules was a great warrior but he was also violent and had difficulty controlling his rage. One day, as he was influenced by Hera, the queen of the Gods, he entered a state of rage and murdered his family. To expiate his sins he was ordered to serve King Eurystheus for ten years. It was during this time that he completed his famous twelve labors.

This story helps us understand how important it is to control our emotions and it also teaches us that if you let others influence your decisions you may commit acts you will regret all your life.

2. Icarus and Daedalus: Children Must Listen to their Parents

The story takes place when Icarus and his father Daedalus were stuck in a labyrinth. To escape, Daedalus made wings that he tied in his son’s back warning him not to fly too close to the sun or the wings would melt. But Icarus was so excited that he disobeyed Dedalus and his father’s prediction happened. The wings melted and Icarus died.

Listening to one’s elders is important because they transmit us their experience and we must take their advice into consideration.

3. Artemis and Apollo: Violence is Never the Answer

When Artemis and her brother Apollo learnt that a mortal woman, Niobe, had given birth to more children than their own mother, the goddess Leto, and therefore deserved more honour, they murdered the woman’s children so as to defend their family’s reputation.

Violence cannot be justified let alone when it leads to murder, even if you want to restore the honour of your family.

4. Narcissus: Do Not Forget the Others

Everybody knows the story of Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection. In fact, as he rejected all attempts of those who loved him (some committed suicide), the goddess of love decided to punish him and made him fall in love with himself as early as he saw his own reflection in the water of a river. But of course this love could never be fulfilled and, out of desperation, Narcissus killed himself. It is important to be nice to others and not to focus oneself on one’s image. Looks are not everything and what is inside a person is more important than what you can see.

5. Achilles: We All Have Strengths and Weaknesses

When Achilles’ mother dipped him into the river Styx to make him invulnerable, she omitted to plunge his heel as she was holding him by this part of the body. Achilles was a great warrior all his life, probably the greatest of the Trojan War but however strong he was he died when an arrow pierced his heel.

The expression Achilles’ heel reminds us that we all have our weaknesses, even the strongest of us and it is important to remember it if we want to protect ourselves. We are all mortal.

6. Hestia: Hospitality Towards Guests

How important it is to feel welcomed when you enter someone else's home! If you have experienced this feeling, you owe it to Hestia who was the goddess of hearth and home. She was preoccupied with the comfort of others and thought it wrong to send strangers away when they knocked on her door. So she let them in and sit by the hearth.

7. Conclusion

The examples above show us how mythology has crossed the ages and left an indelible stain on our actions. They ring a bell and tell us what we can, or can’t, do. They continue shaping our habits and help us become better.

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