Comparative mythology is the study of myths from various cultures in order to identify common themes and traits. This discipline compares the structures, characters, themes, and functions of myths from various cultures and time periods in search of commonalities in their compositions, motifs, and functions. This method of research can assist in revealing the fundamental beliefs, values, and perceptions of reality that transcend cultural boundaries.
Comparative mythology is frequently used to identify “archetypes” – recurring symbols, themes, or characters in the myths of various cultures. Many cultures, for instance, have a creation myth that explains the origins of the world and humanity, or a flood myth that describes a catastrophic inundation that wipes out the majority of life. Similarly, the concept of a hero’s journey, in which he or she embarks on an adventure, encounters and overcomes obstacles, and returns transformed, is a reoccurring motif across cultures.
Joseph Campbell, a renowned scholar in this field, developed the concept of the “monomyth” or “hero’s journey,” which he identified as a common narrative motif in myths from around the globe. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, also contributed to the discipline by investigating the mythological psychological archetypes.
Comparative mythology provides insights not only into the universality of human experiences and aspects of human culture, but also into the ways in which societies adapt these universal elements to reflect their particular circumstances and worldviews.