Interpretations of Myths

What is myth?

“The word myth derives from the Greek mythos, which has a range of meanings from “word,” through “saying” and “story,” to “fiction”; the unquestioned validity of mythos can be contrasted with logos, the word whose validity or truth can be argued and demonstrated. Because myths narrate fantastic events with no attempt at proof, it is sometimes assumed that they are simply stories with no factual basis, and the word has become a synonym for falsehood or, at best, misconception.”


We often understand things through contrasts. True/false, good/evil, beautiful/ugly. Things that are difficult to place in a moral official canon can be described through a story or an image, like a fable or allegory. It is related to cautionary tales, but more ambivalent.

Lucas Van Leyden: Lot and his daughters

Gustave Moreau: Salomé dancing before Herod

Gustave Moreau: Orestes and the Erinyes

Genesis 19: 1–38. Lot, his wife and two daughters fled from the city of Sodom before it was destroyed by God. Lot’s wife disobeyed Gods’ command to not look back, and was turned into a pillar of salt.

Lot and his daughters took refuge inside a cave. Believing that there were no men left alive, the two chaste daughters agreed to get their father drunk with wine and each conceive a child by him, in order to continue the family line.

The gospels of Mark 6:17-29 and Matthew 14:3-11, describes the  death of John the Baptist. Herodias, Salomé’s mom, is angry at John the Baptist for speaking out against her marriage to King Herod. John the Baptist’s issue was that Herodias was originally the wife of Herod’s deceased brother. John deemed it inappropriate for her to marry her dead husband’s brother.

Then Heriodas asks her daughter, Salomé, to dance for her stepfather, King Herod, at his birthday feast. Salomé obeys. King Herod is so impressed with Salomé’s dancing that he will fulfill any wish she have afterwards. After speaking with her mother, Salomé asks for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

Orestes, in Greek mythology, son of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, and his wife, Clytemnestra. According to Homer, Orestes was away when his father returned from Troy to meet his death at the hands of Aegisthus, his wife’s lover. On reaching manhood, Orestes avenged his father by killing Aegisthus and Clytemnestra, his mother.

Furies, Greek: Erinyes, in Greco-Roman mythology, were goddesses of vengeance. They were probably personified curses, but possibly they were originally conceived of as ghosts of the murdered. They lived in the underworld and ascended to earth to pursue the wicked.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica,