Myth and fable
- Someone asked in the alt.usage.english newsgroup about the difference between
myth and fable.
Here is my answer -- can anyone add anything, or put it more clearly?
On Sat, 03 Aug 2013 12:49:39 +0200, Steve Hayes <hayesstw@...>
>On Sat, 3 Aug 2013 00:12:41 -0700 (PDT), tom g <tomgutierrez1@...>I was going to say a little more but I had to take my son to work.
>>I just read these statements in another google group:
>>"I believe talent may be a Myth, but it is certainly not a fable."
>>"Again, "magic" may be a Myth but it not a fable.".
>>My English is not so good but what does this mean?
>>Also, why does "Myth" have a capital letter but "fable" does not?
>>Any help appreciated.
>A fable is a moral story involving talking animals.
>A myth is a little more complex. It means a story that says something about
>abstract values or qualities in a concrete form.
Myth does not necessarily have a capital letter and I have no idea what it
means in relation to talent or magic.
An example of a fable is the story of the tortoise and the hare.
It is usually a story about animals, and usually has a moral or ethical
point, which may be ambiguous.
An example of a myth is the story of Pandora's box:
It is a story that says something about the human condition in relation to
abstract qualities -- in this case Envy, Crime, Hate, and Disease and Hope.
It attempts to explain how evil came (and comes) into the world, and to
encapsulate the human experience of evil.
The story of Adam and Eve incorporates both forms -- Fable is represented by
a talking snake, but like "Pandora's Box" it is an attempt to account for the
origin and present experience of evil.
Some myths may have an element of historical truth (fables generally don't),
but to look for the historical facts in myth is to miss the point. The
question to ask is not "Did this happen?" but "Does this happen?" In myth the
truth transcends the facts.
When people can no longer perceive the truth of a myth, and it no longer
speaks to their condition (or they can no longer hear it) people tend to look
at the "facts" rather than the truth, and the myth tends to congeal into
superstition. I know you didn't ask about superstition, but you could say
that superstition is "congealed myth", which like congealed gravy is
unappetising, and like congealed blood is dead.