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Traditionally, myth has been a genre of literature through which different people groups have formulated their own identities and meanings. In this sense, myth has historically been closely associated with religion. In modern times, the term myth has assumed a negative connotation, due to the scientistic idea that a myth is more or less a delusion. This, however, is an overly simplistic conception that ignores the real psychological power contained in a myth.


Myths are fiction stories based on historical beliefs of ancient people. Webster’s Dictionary defines myths as “an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true; a story that was told in an ancient culture to explain a practice, belief, or natural occurrence.”

These stories make up a large part of unknown history, and some of them record events from long ago.

Many ancient civilizations didn’t understand basic science like the Earth’s rotation around the Sun, or lightning and thunderstorms. They believed these were controlled by godly beings instead of natural forces. Ancient civilizations didn’t turn from these beliefs until inventors discovered methods to study nature and natural forces.

Examples of myths

Most authors and literary scholars do not believe a myth can be written, but it is created based on current events, trends, and religious beliefs. There are no criteria or structures in place for creating or outlining myths. 

Myths are born out of tragedy, despair, sadness, and the need for hope. This is why most myths have the hero element. Heroes are summoned by our imaginations to protect us, make things right, and help make life better. 

Some of the most common myths are:

Myth of Ares

Myth of Jason and the Argonauts

Myth of Odysseus

Myth of Pan

The Wooden Horse

The Woman Runner



The Maze

The Face in the Pool

Daedalus and Icarus

The Cyclops Cave

Great myths from the past

Some of the best known myths are about the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. Zeus was believed to be the leader of Olympus, the home of the gods. And, while Mount Olympus does exist, the mountain referred to in the stories is a fictional mountain that no mortal can see or travel to.

One of the best known stories is Hercules and his twelve labors. This story is was more than entertainment to the ancient Greeks. It was a motivational tool. They believed the gods used volcanoes, earthquakes, and storms to destroy their crops and homes as punishment. Worse yet, some believed the gods were petty and wanted to hurt mortals. 

Hercules was a hero – a common theme in most myths. He took the challenge to help free the people from the tyrannical rule of the immortals and used his strength and power to even the playing field. These stories gave those men and women hope for a better tomorrow.

Greek mythology may be one of the most popular, but it is by far the only set of myths. Every period of history and every nation has mythical stories. Some are rooted in truth, while others are obviously meant to be false. 

Another common theme with myths is the unknown author. Historians rarely are able to identify or confirm the identity of myth writers. It is as if the writer is as much a myth as the story itself. One explanation for this is community writing. Historians believe no one person wrote myths, but, rather, myths were collected stories that changed over periods of time. They are like bedtime stories told to children. Each parent adds their own flair to the story and no one is accredited to actually writing it.

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