Animal Kingdom (Tiryak) in Epics

by Saranya P.S | 2019 | 51,616 words | ISBN-10: 8190396315 | ISBN-13: 9788190396318

An English study the Animal Kingdom (Tiryak) in Epics.—The present thesis is based entirely on Ramayana and Mahabharata although an attempt is made to analytically compare the Animal kingdom with Mriga-pakshi-shastra—‘The ancient Indian science of of Animals and Birds’....

Chapter 1.11 - Interpretation of myths

Different European scholars used various theories for interpreting myths. Some of them considered myths as allegories. Some others insisted that they are symbolic or primitive rationalism.10Here some of the more important theories which interpret myths are discussed.

The allegorical theory:

According to the allegorical theory, myths are nothing but allegories. They contain deep and edifying meanings. They are the creations of primeval sages with intentional obscurity. The wisdom of the ancient sages is hidden in allegories because of the following reasons:

i. They might have wished to prevent great truths passing into the hands of persons too ignorant to deal with them.

ii. Their intention might have been to attract people by stories since a dry and formal discussion fails to do it. This theory treats the story as a garment under which a hidden meaning should be sought.

For example, the mediaeval Christian mythologists read “Pilgrim’s Progress” as demonstrating the life of a wise Christian, patiently suffering many hardships finally returning to the abode of his God. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey can also be read as some kind of allegorical tales.

The euhemeristic theory:

Euhemerus was a writer who lived in Greece after Alexander in BC 300. According t him gods of popular tradition were historical personalities. People who were benefited by these great men made them gods. Thus gods of popular traditions were simple men deified by those who benefited from them. Euhemerism is an approach to the interpretation of mythology in which mythological accounts are presumed to have originated from real historical events or personages. Euhemerism supposes that historical accounts become myths as they are exaggerated in the retelling, accumulating elaborations and alterations that reflect cultural mores. In the more recent literature of myth, such as Bulfinch's Mythology, euhemerism is termed the "historical theory" of mythology.

Euhemerus was not the first to attempt to rationalize mythology in historical terms, as euhemeristic views are found in earlier writings including those of Xenophanes, Herodotus, Hecataeus of Abdera and Ephorus. However, the enduring influence of Euhemerus upon later thinkers such as Ennius and Antoine Banier identified him as the traditional founder of this school of thought. Euhemerus asserts that the great god Zeus as originally a human hero who was deified by the community in return for his victory over the oppressive tyrants. Thus, myths often explain historical happenings.

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