Historical,Mythical,Legendary


Words like “historical” are often used to describe something one believs has happened.

History however is a term used for one of the soft sciences and in many cases “legendary” or “mythological” (witch are NOT synonyms either) would more amply apply.

For instance the Swedish royal house of Ynglinga is legendary.

Simply meaning that it MIGHT have existed but we have no attestations reliable enough to say for sure that it did.

That the God Frey has been a king of the Geats in todays Götaland, Sweden is also a legend. NOT mythology and not history either.

That the war ship Wasa existed and sank is history, since we have the ship (thus making it archeology too).

That people from todays Sweden went to todays Istanbul to work is history since we can prove it.

Mythology on the other hand has contents aiming to teach and enlighten.

That moses took the Hebrews out of Egypt would be legend if it wasnt for the miracles and the involvement of their God.

Thus, the stories about Jesus are mythology, about Robin Hood are legenda and about Julius Caesar history (generally speaking).

Naturally these three can cross ino eachother, terms, after all, are just terms.

NEITHER of these terms says weather something really happened or not or if the claims in question are “true”.

A myth or a legend can be as “true” as history (and history can prove itself faulty as more facts are found).

Robin Hood is considered legend. There where at least two men fighting the sheriff of Notingham, hiding in the Sherwood forest and robbing the rich named Robert Hode but as long as one (or even both) cant be clearly identified as the Robin Hood of the stories it remains legend, not history.

The same can be said about king Arthur who might have a base in one or several historical people (though most theories are crackpot hogwash, a few are sound).

In short – Freys role as king of what is now part of Sweden = legend.

That there where royal houses = history.

Freys role in the Aesir / Vanir wars = mythology.

Neither making any 100% claims to know weather the content took place or not.

Legend, typically, is a short (mono-) episodic, traditional, highly ecotypified historicized narrative performed in a conversational mode, reflecting on a psychological level a symbolic representation of folk belief and collective experiences and serving as a reaffirmation of commonly held values of the group to whose tradition it belongs.”

[ Timothy R. Tangherlini ]

Mythology,The term “myth” is often used colloquially to refer to a false story, but academic use of the term generally does not pass judgment on truth or falsity. In the study of folklore, a myth is a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form.

The main characters in myths are usually gods or supernatural heroes. As sacred stories, myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests and closely linked to religion. In the society in which it is told, a myth is usually regarded as a true account of the remote past. In fact, many societies have two categories of traditional narrative, “true stories” or myths, and “false stories” or fables

Closely related to myth are legend and folktale. Myths, legends, and folktales are different types of traditional story.Unlike myths, folktales can take place at any time and any place, and they are not considered true or sacred by the societies that tell them. Like myths, legends are stories that are traditionally considered true, but are set in a more recent time, when the world was much as it is today. Legends generally feature humans as their main characters, whereas myths generally focus on superhuman characters.

History (from Greek ἱστορία – historia, meaning “inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation”) is the study of the human past. History can also mean the period of time AFTER writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians. It is a field of research which uses a narrative to examine and analyse the sequence of events, and it sometimes attempts to investigate objectively the patterns of cause and effect that determine events. Historians debate the nature of history and its usefulness. This includes discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing “perspective” on the problems of the present. The stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the legends surrounding King Arthur) are usually classified as cultural heritage rather than the “disinterested investigation” needed by the discipline of history. Events of the past prior to written record are considered prehistory.

Historians write in the context of their own time, and with due regard to the current dominant ideas of how to interpret the past, and sometimes write to provide lessons for their own society. In the words of Benedetto Croce, “All history is contemporary history”. History is facilitated by the formation of a ‘true discourse of past’ through the production of narrative and analysis of past events relating to the human race. The modern discipline of history is dedicated to the institutional production of this discourse.

All events that are remembered and preserved in some authentic form constitute the historical record. The task of historical discourse is to identify the sources which can most usefully contribute to the production of accurate accounts of past. Therefore, the constitution of the historian’s archive is a result of circumscribing a more general archive by invalidating the usage of certain texts and documents (by falsifying their claims to represent the ‘true past’).

Archaeology is a discipline that is especially helpful in dealing with buried sites and objects, which, once unearthed, contribute to the study of history. But archaeology rarely stands alone. It uses narrative sources to complement its discoveries. However, archaeology is constituted by a range of methodologies and approaches which are independent from history; that is to say, archaeology does not “fill the gaps” within textual sources. Indeed, Historical Archaeology is a specific branch of archaeology, often contrasting its conclusions against those of contemporary textual sources.

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