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Ancient civilizations offer a rich history of ideas through their beliefs and mythologies. Exploring ancient myths offers a fascinating pastime and also provides an enjoyable learning exercise.

Joseph Campbell helped to popularize ancient mythologies and show how they relate to the civilizations in which they originate and how the stories have been passed on between generations and cultures. It has also been shown how myths and legends can lead to other ideas and phenomena. Many of the stories found within ancient mythologies are the source of plot ideas for current novels and movies. They are also the source for many popular paranormal claims still existing today.

Choose a myth to explore.

Projects can be a written assignment, a poster presentation, an oral presentation or a combination.

1. How many versions of the myth can be found? (Document sources.)

2. What differences, if any, are there between the versions?

3. Where did the myth originate (or where is it thought that the myth originated)?

4. Trace the evolution of the myth through history. What parts, if any, have changed and why do you suppose those parts changed?

5. Is there any evidence that the myth, or parts of it, had an origin in historical fact?

6. Does the myth have any similarity with other myths? If so, explain those similarities.

7. Why do you think the myth originated? What characteristics of the people and environment may have contributed to the creation of the myth?

8. What, if any, purpose did the myth serve for the society in which it originated or was promoted?

9. Is there a moral or lesson to be learned from the myth? If so, what is it.

10. Is the myth still alive today? If so, where and among what peoples? How is it being used now? If the myth is no longer alive, why do you think it died out?

11. Does the myth contain any elements that remind you of modern-day beliefs and paranormal claims? If so, what are they.

12. Has the myth been presented through fictional accounts - books, movies, television programs, etc.? Describe several examples.

13. Compare questions 11 & 12 and suggest why the myth, or parts of it, are presented as both nonfiction and fiction and what is the difference between the two. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both?

14. Describe the parts of the myth that are possible and impossible based on our understanding of science and reality and explain why.

15. Based on your research above, present an essay, a poster presentation and/or an oral presentation that provides a summary of your research.

16. As an introduction to the above assignment, write a 1000-2000 word summary of the most popular version of the myth. Reference all sections that are discussed in the research paper by using footnotes or end notes.

17. Include a bibliography for all resources you used to conduct your research.