Myths are valuable because they reflect the values that shape a culture or people. How do Greek myths help one understand the Greek culture?

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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The mythology of Grecians, Romans, Native Americans and other cultures all over the world points to the commonality of the human experience.  Joseph Campbell addressed this concept in The Hero with a Thousand Faces where he deconstructed the hero's journey as it appears in the mythology of many cultures.  When looking at specific myths, we see that ancient peoples were not all that different from people today.  For example, one well-known myth frequently taught in American schools is "Daedalus and Icarus," the story of a young man who disregards his father's instructions and dies in an accident as a result.  While the mythological aspect of the story has to do with building wings and flying away from an island and is not something we can actually do, it points to the fact that even in ancient Greece, parents understood what it meant to try to keep their kids safe through simple instructions that, kids being kids, sometimes disregarded with tragic results.  The connection to this myth is clear every time the newspaper reports an accident in a car driven by a young person who was perhaps speeding, or under the influence of alcohol, or just being careless, because chances are that young person had been told by one or more adults, "Be careful," or "Don't drive to fast," or "If you've had too much to drink, call me." 


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