Myths are traditional stories, especially ones concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events. A collection of and the study of myths is called mythology.

Myth Definition

Myths are based on traditions, some having factual origins, while others are completely fabricated. Some myths are sacred to a certain place or religion, and describe and explain the cultural and religious views, the world, or a person’s existence. Unlike fairy tales, myths don’t often have a happy ending, and their characters don’t always learn a positive lesson. Myths are part of an oral tradition, meaning that they’ve been passed on over many years, often changing as they travel from person to person.

Myths originated a long time ago when people began using the written word. Much of the first text consisted of topics such as how the world was created, how people came into existence, the afterlife, or why death is important in life. Some of the well known myths come from the following cultures: Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Israelites, Norse, Chinese, and Native Americans.

Myths cover a variety of topics that could be used in the classroom as teaching points. For example, there are myths about why the seasons change, and why the moon and sun rise and set. There are also myths about positive and negative results that come from the decisions we make. Myths are also ways to learn about the powers and flaws of a culture’s gods and goddesses.

Examples of Myths

Greek Myths

Roman Myths

Egyptian Myths

  • The Story of Re
  • The Battle of Set and Horus
  • The Prince and the Sphinx
  • The Girl Who Wore Red Slippers

Norse Myths

  • The Death of Baldur
  • The Mead of Poetry
  • Why Odin is One-Eyed
  • The Creation of Thor’s Hammer

  • Be sure to check out our Picture Encyclopedia of Mythology!

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