Thursday, September 06, 2007

On Mythological Terminology

'Scholars have often found it difficult to distinguish between myth and other kinds of traditional tale: saga, legend, folktale, and fable. It is not always necessary or even possible to draw such distinctions. For speakers of German the term saga (Sage) is more or less synonymous with myth (Mythos): the best known collection of Greek myths is Gustav Schwab's Die schoensten Sagen des klassischen Altertums, and the most influential treatment of Germanic sagas is Jacob Grimm's Germanische Mythologie. In Grimm's usage the two terms are sometimes synonymous, though occasionally he seems to want to restrict myth (Mythus, as he writes it) to antiquity. If distinctions are drawn, they usually have to do with the cultural context in which the tale was generated.'

--Fritz Graf, Greek Mythology (p. 6)

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