Monday, September 15, 2008

Uncovering History's Mystery

When looking at history objectively, you can feel an inclination towards deciphering fact from fiction. But is this what history is really about?

While historians try and contextualize the actuality of events and people to tell in truth if these individuals really lived, or these momentous events really took place, I can also understand the value in myth and legend.

For many centuries myth and legend have been used to convey stories or morality, mortality, great love, epic battle and conquest. While modern technology and in-depth excavation and research has allowed us to gain an accessibility towards piecing together the tales of the past, it is clear that the message of history's lesson lay in the teachings, not necessarily in the facts.
The walls of Troy, modern day Turkey.

I am not trying to refute the importance of academia, or even question the importance of understanding the atmosphere that was unique to a particular time, place and culture - but I think it is important to acknowledge that myths and legends were passed on through generations past, to in-power subjects into believing in something bigger, better and perhaps even of mystical relevance towards personal spiritualism.

A stellar example of this theory is antique Greek culture. From Heracles to the legend of Troy - the Greeks spread messages that were important towards establishing the abilities of ordinary men and women. Think of that time and place and really it is not much different then our world today in terms of belief: deeply saturated in chaotic nature and destruction, we reach for hope and inspiration through la storia.

Myth and legend predate even the notion of world religions. Today we turn towards religion to find solace, salvation and hope in humanity and the concepts of a fulfilling afterlife, while the Greeks saw this in tails of the mighty Zeus and the merciful Poseidon.

We all long to find something to look up to - something that makes us feel a connection with divinity here on earth. The creative texture in which ancient myths and legends were framed by the people and then communicated so colourfully is the most remarkable legacy of these civilizations past.

History, for me, holds far more of an education then the simple pages of a textbook, or some coloured plates of reference. History is the greatest testament to the human imagination - the most powerful attempt to understand our past, to negotiate our present, to hopefully change our future.
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