Jul. 3rd, 2012

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While we were traveling yesterday, Sahona and I had an interesting conversation about standard archetypal myths in most human societies and how they come to exist and evolve over the centuries as societies change and interact with other societies.

Tales grow in the telling, there can be no doubt.

Most myths probably start with a grain of truth. Here is a fictional example of how a myth may evolve, in reverse.

21st Century Sci-Fi Television Series - a war-weary ex-soldier named Karn becomes the leader of a fractious group of humans fighting against an invasion of reptilian aliens who turn out to be the lesser descendants of a race of godlike reptilians who created humanity to someday serve as food and slaves. He is constantly at odds with the group's former leader, a woman named Felicia, who was a high-powered lawyer before the invasion, but hasn't completely adjusted to the new reality.  However, the two of them share a great deal of sexual tension. It turns out the alien invaders have themselves been duped by their ancestors, who have evolved to an even higher state and have mysterious plans involving mixing the alien and human DNA...

Mid-20th Century Pulp Fantasy Novel - The mercenary warrior Karnak must battle an ancient dragon god that has awakened after eons of slumber with plans to enslave all of humanity. He goes forth to battle the dragon, who is the size of a mountain, with his magic sword and armor, given him by his lover, the sorceress Falia.

Late 18th-Century Romantic Epic Poem - The noble and true knight Korannak, bastard son of Charlemagne, must save all of the Holy Roman Empire from the last dragon - a flying, firebreathing monster the size of a castle - which has emerged from a cave deep in a dark forest. A beautiful virgin named Falatorthia who lives all alone in the forest falls in love with the knight, but cannot be with him because she is pledged to another. She tells him how to find the dragon's lair, then commits suicide. Korannak dies bravely, slaying the dragon in single combat with a blessed sword he pulled from the roots of a sacred tree.

Early Iron Age Myth - There once was a mighty king named Korannus, a 10-foot-tall giant, who had slain many warriors in battle, so that he despaired of ever meeting a worthy challenger. He foolishly prayed to the gods that he might face a worthy opponent and prove his mettle for all future generations. The gods sent a dragon, the size of an Assyrian siege tower, to punish the king for his arrogance. The dragon ate the king's wife, Falatha, and children, and many of his household warriors. Korannus then tracked the beast to its lair in the nearby swamp and slew it with many of his men watching, but he died in the process.

Initial Real Incident (Late Stone Age) - A man named Kor leads a small band of refugees fleeing south across a continent, to escape a large and warlike enemy tribe. Tired and sick, the band of people stops to rest and drink water at the edge of a swampy lake. Kor's two-year-old daughter is seized by a giant crocodile, perhaps the last of its species. Kor's wife, Fala, alerts him to the situation and throws him a large nearby branch. Kor, who is a large man for his people (nearly six feet tall!), leaps into the water and attacks the crocodile. He pulls the little girl from its mouth and tosses her to his wife on the shore. The enraged crocodile continues to attack Kor, but he eventually manages to beat it to death. A few days later, Kor dies from his injuries, but his daughter, who recovers from the deep bite wounds in her leg, will always remember her father saving her life that day. She, and the other members of their tribe tell the story many times over the years...

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