Getting inspiration from myths and legends

Getting inspiration from myths and legends

Myths and legends are perhaps the oldest stories we humans tell each other. They go back to before human beings were literate. They may go back to before agriculture, which would make them some six to ten thousand years old. Yeah, legends are that old.

Myths

We might, at least here in the west, think of Greek and Roman mythologies before we consider others. Or maybe we do not know any others. But there are plenty! However, rather than getting into specific culture’s mythologies, I would instead suggest considering certain ancient tropes.

The Flood

Floods make for great storytelling. This is because they are a kind of ancient people’s disaster movie. The effects are legitimately frightening and off the scale. Furthermore, most of us have experienced some species of flooding in our lives, even if it was just water rising in a creek and pooling around our ankles.

For a religious group, a flood is also a great way to separate out the righteous (using whatever criteria the group so desires) from the wicked. The best people can be quite literally be saved and the evil people can be swept away. It is also far less messy than a fire or earthquake would be (although being swallowed up by the earth is another option when it comes to the fate of the wicked). There is nothing to clean up.

Battles

The fall of Troy makes for a great story. Can it inspire? Of course. Between the death scenes, Helen’s love affair and then her fall from grace, and the Trojan Horse itself, the story is fascinating reading. Another (probably) mythological battle is Joshua’s invasion of Jericho. The story includes the image of a wanton woman (Rahab, who was most likely intended to be a prostitute) offering aid and comfort to the enemy’s spies, to the walls falling from trumpet blasts and not traditional attacks.

Takeaways

Without getting into faith or religion (which will be handled in a different post), it is perfectly legitimate to use myths for writing. They are, after all, within the public domain.