Recurring themes in mythology

Discussion in 'General Mythology' started by Martin, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. Martin

    Martin New Member

    I'm working on a research paper and I need some more ideas of recurring themes among mythology. I am primarily focusing on Roman, Greek and Norse mythologies, however, Celtic is another one I would not object to. It is a lengthy project and would love if anyone can toss me ideas.
    Some ideas that I have now are (none are set in stone):
    The Hero
    Persecuted Heroine
    Dualism - tension between opposing forces.
    Thanks in advance!
  2. Myrddin

    Myrddin Well-Known Member

    Tricksters would be a good one to do, as there is always a trickster in mythology. Loki of the Norse, Hermes of the Greek, Coyote of the Native American, Nyneve in Celtic... Also, you could maybe look at shapeshifting. Or magic.
    What exactly is the assignment? Is it choosing one, or a number of different themes to analyze? I assume you have to prove how it is a recurring mythological theme?
  3. Rhonda Tharp

    Rhonda Tharp Active Member

    For trickster analysis, I recommend "Trickster Makes This World" by Lewis Hyde. Shapeshifting would be interesting to investigate, and compare it to current stories/movies. How many "faces" does a 21st century person have? Is a car salesman a trickster?

    Creation myths and savior myths seem to reoccur. Parental disputes, son takes father's place, etc. Greek Attis, Celtic Lugh and Norse Balder were all said to have been born on December 25th, and are equated with light, regeneration, renewal and death.
  4. Caburus

    Caburus Active Member

    Decapitations come up alot - Humbaba, Medusa, The Green Knight, Holofernes, the Hydra, Mimir, John the Baptist, Regin, Husayn ibn Ali, Grendel, St.Wenifred,
    A child/grandchild slaying parent/grandparent and thus fulfilling a prophecy (either accidently or on purpose)- Lamech, Brutus, Oedipus, Perseus, Cronus, Zeus, Ea, etc
  5. Myrddin

    Myrddin Well-Known Member

    I would classify a typical car salesman as a trickster; they certainly come across that way. The Weasley twins in Harry Potter are definitely tricksters. The trickster appears everywhere, you can't escape them. I think there's a little bit of a trickster in all of us, really.
    Rhonda Tharp likes this.
  6. Myrddin

    Myrddin Well-Known Member

    More ideas for themes: "Power of Love", "Beauty", and "Deity Addressed in Bad Light" (i.e. Hades of Greek, Pluto of Roman, Loki of Norse, Morgan le Faye of Celtic, Coyote of Native American, etc).
  7. Martin

    Martin New Member

    It's an open assignment, it's a research paper for my writing class. Any topic is fair game, then only stipulation is that it has to have an assertive thesis statement that can be proven through scholarly evidence. My original idea was just going to be a research paper on Norse Mythology, top to bottom, then I got thrown the curveball of having to "argue" my thesis and prove it.
    I appreciate the responses, will definitely be looking into them!
  8. Abishai100

    Abishai100 New Member

    Martin, I would recommend you choose a theme that is easy to cross-reference, because when that labor is put aside, you may find you have more time investigating your personal responses to the theme as it relates to the digestibility of mythology. You may have guessed that mythology can be tedious.

    I find that the theme of justice is prevalent in many mythology tales. In fact, American comic books which comprise modern mythology in many ways offer us countless stories focused on justice. Batman (DC Comics), Superman (DC Comics), Green Arrow (DC Comics), Spider-Man (Marvel Comics), and Wonder Woman (DC Comics) are but some of the titans of American comic books that spend most of their time circulating ideas about justice either through action or debate.

    Justice can be drawn as a theme from Ancient Greek mythology tales about Medusa (the hideous snake-like woman who turns any man vain enough to state into her eyes into dead stone), Hercules (the Greek muscle hero who is daring enough to take on incredible tasks of revelation), and Jason (the Greek adventurer who must reclaim his stolen throne by retrieving a divine golden fleece). These stories highlight the surprising availability of justice as a storytelling tool for labor discussion.

    I find the American comic book character of Batman (DC Comics) most useful in analyzing society obsession with justice. Batman is a wealthy aristocrat named Bruce Wayne who wears a cape and mask by night and prowls the street of Gotham City by night as a child-like vigilante.

    While justice seems too obvious a theme for analysis, it does surface so often as to warrant a degree of serious note-taking.


  9. The Misfit

    The Misfit New Member

    As this thread is rather old, you probably already finished this paper long since, but as I'm new here I would like to reply anyway. I've noticed a recurring theme of incest in mythology. The first example that springs to mind is in Star Wars (which I consider a modern mythology). In Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, there is a scene where Princess Leia kisses Luke Skywalker, who later turns out to be her brother. This isn't essential to the plot but seems to somehow resonate as being mythologically necessary. There are many more examples in ancient mythology, such as Oedipus.

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