Archetypes of Shinto and Ancient Greek Religion

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Most countries in the world have archetypes in their creation myths, even countries as distant from each other as Japan and Greece. Japan’s religion, Shinto, has stories about sibling marriages and casting deformed children away. Greek myths have similar plots in their stories. There are reasons why these two completely different cultures have similar stories. The next three paragraphs explain why there are archetypes and differences in creation myths of Japan and Greece.

Both Shinto myths and Greek myths have siblings marrying each other. For example, in one Shinto myth, Izanagi-no-mikoto and Izanami-no-mikoto were “united as husband and wife,” and in a Greek myth, “Cronos married his sister” Rhea. Also, the couples in both myths produced many children: Izanagi and Izanami gave birth “to the Great eight-island country, with the mountains, rivers, herbs, and trees,” and many gods and goddesses. Cronos and Rhea gave birth to five gods and goddesses. From these two myths, it is evident that Japan and Greece did not consider marrying siblings as something wrong. When these myths were created thousands of years ago, people from these two countries did not know that there are possibilities that a child will have some problems when born from sibling parents. Also, it may have been thought in both countries that siblings will give birth to a virtuous child, for siblings love each other from the start and therefore have a high chance of becoming successful parents.

However, even though ancient Japan and Greece thought that sibling parents might be caring, both cultures have stories of casting away children. In the Shinto myth, the sibling parents gave birth to a “leech-child,” so they “abandoned it to the winds”. The Greek myth h...

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...en is that for the Japanese, pride and dignity of the family may have been too strong for the parents to keep their deformed child. For the Greeks, gods were thought to be in the shape of humans; therefore children who were not humanly shaped were not proper humans. A difference between the myths in these two cultures is that the earth was perceived in different ways. Japanese myths depicted earth as different from the gods, while the Greeks thought of earth as a god, showing that the cultures of these countries affects the way they think about their worlds. These archetypes and the differences in myths are evidence that humans, whether they are from different side of the globe or from different time periods, have archetypical ideas. Humans from around the world share some ideas, but these ideas will slightly differ, as the cultures the ideas came from are distinct.

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