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Thread: Where does history end & myth begin?

  1. #1
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    Question Where does history end & myth begin?

    This could be a deep subject I guess but is there a way of telling?

    Here I am looking up Helgi from my Vikings tarot deck and I'm on wiki and in his article I find Helgi is the brother of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer. My problem here, in my family tree I'm back to Ragnar Lodbrok whom history recognizes as being a live person (a king and Viking) Now his wife Aslaugs' father is Sigurd. Sigurd married a shieldmaiden/Valkyrie. Helgi & Sigurds father is Sigmund who wiki now only refers to as a mythological hero. So is this where I stop in my tree as not to make it look rediculous with people in it one cannot prove was an actual person and not a fictional character.

    So where does one stop and the other begin? Where do you draw the line?
    Last edited by Haerfest Leah; October 25th, 2006 at 12:19 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seapearls View Post
    This could be a deep subject I guess but is there a way of telling?

    Here I am looking up Helgi from my Vikings tarot deck and I'm on wiki and in his article I find Helgi is the brother of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer. My problem here, in my family tree I'm back to Ragnar Lodbrok whom history recognizes as being a live person (a king and Viking) Now his wife Aslaugs' father is Sigurd. Sigurd married a shieldmaiden/Valkyrie. Helgi & Sigurds father is Sigmund who wiki now only refers to as a mythological hero. So is this where I stop in my tree as not to make it look rediculous with people in it one cannot prove was an actual person and not a fictional character.

    So where does one stop and the other begin? Where do you draw the line?
    Keep in mind that I say this as a history and mythology nut. I once dived into history so deeply, I started having 'visitations' from historical people and flashes of historical events as though I was looking through a window. (Quite a few of them were proven to be correct to me through further research! ***How ookey!!)


    Honestly, you can research for decades to try to "prove" 'what was' or, perhaps 'what was not'.

    There is not necessarily a clear line between myth and history.
    Take note of the Bible. This is a book of lore belonging to a group of people called 'Hebrews'. It contains their history. It contains their mythology. It contains their lineages, as well as their laws.

    Their myths are based on their laws, which are based on their history, which is based on their myths, which are often based on their recorded lineages (and the crazy cycle continues).

    History is often recorded in myths. We do not necessarily understand it because it is disjointed and quite incomplete. (Fragmented oral tradition of which part was eventually recorded in writing.) We do not understand the relevance of the history to the people who would have heard it in its coherent fashion.
    On top of that, myths are built on history, as perceived by a group of people. The real-life heroes in them become, possibly exaggerated, eventually misunderstood, and then exploited for gain of some sort, or for the desires of people in power. I'd say it's likely that geneaologies are also 'mythological'.
    I know in Scottish Gaelic geneaologies, there are ties made between people and particular clans for POLITICAL reasons, rather than necessarily because *it really happened*. There may be no blood relationship at all, but it sounds good in the geneaologies, and justifies whatever cause the person who created it is trying to further.

    It is very good to do research...I'd say EXCELLENT...
    But eventually, it comes down to what you think after considering everything.

    Be very careful, though, about trying to pass it off as "Truth" to someone else.
    ...Sort of like my historical 'visions' and 'visitations'. I *know* that what I saw is 'the truth'...but I'd be hard-pressed to prove it to somebody. Dare I say, I would not attempt to do so.

    Le meas,




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    Quote Originally Posted by Faol-chý View Post
    Keep in mind that I say this as a history and mythology nut. I once dived into history so deeply, I started having 'visitations' from historical people and flashes of historical events as though I was looking through a window. (Quite a few of them were proven to be correct to me through further research! ***How ookey!!)
    Thats cool.

    Honestly, you can research for decades to try to "prove" 'what was' or, perhaps 'what was not'.
    Very true


    History is often recorded in myths. We do not necessarily understand it because it is disjointed and quite incomplete. (Fragmented oral tradition of which part was eventually recorded in writing.) We do not understand the relevance of the history to the people who would have heard it in its coherent fashion.
    On top of that, myths are built on history, as perceived by a group of people. The real-life heroes in them become, possibly exaggerated, eventually misunderstood, and then exploited for gain of some sort, or for the desires of people in power. I'd say it's likely that geneaologies are also 'mythological'.
    I know in Scottish Gaelic geneaologies, there are ties made between people and particular clans for POLITICAL reasons, rather than necessarily because *it really happened*. There may be no blood relationship at all, but it sounds good in the geneaologies, and justifies whatever cause the person who created it is trying to further.
    True, I've read about that happening also.

    It is very good to do research...I'd say EXCELLENT...
    But eventually, it comes down to what you think after considering everything.

    Be very careful, though, about trying to pass it off as "Truth" to someone else.
    ...Sort of like my historical 'visions' and 'visitations'. I *know* that what I saw is 'the truth'...but I'd be hard-pressed to prove it to somebody. Dare I say, I would not attempt to do so.

    Le meas,
    No I don't dare pass anything off as truth, especially UPG's. I really found the genealogies fascinating once I started to realize who some of the names in my tree were. After abt 1000 CE I say genealogy is only as accurate as history has recorded, taking what you mentioned above into consideration also.

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    "Where does history end & myth begin?"

    As soon as it makes FOX

    But seriously I find the hope of being able to untangle the two rather too optimistic, you simply have to allow for a signicant noise to signal ratio even in our recent history
    "One between two worlds chants, "fire walk with me""

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    Quote Originally Posted by Faol-chý View Post
    History is often recorded in myths. We do not necessarily understand it because it is disjointed and quite incomplete. (Fragmented oral tradition of which part was eventually recorded in writing.) We do not understand the relevance of the history to the people who would have heard it in its coherent fashion.
    On top of that, myths are built on history, as perceived by a group of people. The real-life heroes in them become, possibly exaggerated, eventually misunderstood, and then exploited for gain of some sort, or for the desires of people in power.
    Another great example of this would be Troy. For centuries scholars passed Homers Illiad off as myth. Not only did the tale not happen but the city of Troy never existed outside of Homers tale. Along comes Heinrich Schlieman 1870's and found not only one Troy but 6 layers and a couple of sub-layers during his life. It forced a lot of scholars to re-examine Homer and other myths with as much detail as Homer.

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    it's very simple. history is his story. his narrative. his way of looking at things. myth begins the minute you allow someone to put a pen to a paper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGreekLegend View Post
    it's very simple. history is his story. his narrative. his way of looking at things. myth begins the minute you allow someone to put a pen to a paper.

    'Myths' have been around a lot longer than pen and paper...
    It's called 'oral tradition'.




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    and i was only trying to make a point. yea oral tradition? you try that with someone. speak something in their ear and continue that to about 10 people. then factor in you been alive for 40+ years before you pass on the knowledge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGreekLegend View Post
    and i was only trying to make a point. yea oral tradition? you try that with someone. speak something in their ear and continue that to about 10 people. then factor in you been alive for 40+ years before you pass on the knowledge.

    It would seem, from my experience, that oral tradition has accurately retained a great deal of material. The less important stuff goes by the wayside, gets altered, but the stuff that's important sticks.

    Further, members of those cultures who practice oral tradition are aware of the nature of it and are, therefore not apt to take aspects of it quite as 'literally' as those of us who are immersed in the era of writing.

    Writing can still be understood incorrectly. Even though what has been written has not changed, the people *have*. The context is entirely different, and so the people who read it later do not have the context to understand it.

    If you are interested in Greek stuff, you may want to check out Dr. Bruce Lincoln's Myth, Narrative, Ideaology and Scholarship. I bet it would be right up your alley.
    Last edited by Faol-chu; October 25th, 2006 at 05:39 PM.




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    exactly. and your post just re-iterates what I was saying and adding in a few points.

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