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National Heroes and Myths - Necessary?

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Parnell View Drop Down
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    Posted: 01 Apr 2010 at 13:59
It has often been asserted that the historians role is to dispel myths in history and reveal historical characters to be the three dimensional, flawed human beings they were. That said, isn't there a case to be made that in order to facilitate national coherence and a sense of togetherness, that a kind of simplified national narrative should be constructed? Or if not constructed, at least tolerated? I often question the virtue of taking down peoples half thought perceptions of their great cultural heroes - surely living in ignorance would be more pleasant for all concerned?
 
/Devils advocate.
http://xkcd.com/15/



Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it. ~George Bernard Shaw
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2010 at 14:05
Myths are just that: myths. I think both myth and 'reality' can exist in tandem, and history would lose a lot of ground if it blurred the distinction. 

p.s. Should you not be, like, studying?
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Parnell View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2010 at 14:07

Ditto!

http://xkcd.com/15/



Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it. ~George Bernard Shaw
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drgonzaga View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2010 at 14:36
Historian's dispelling myths? Is that not akin to a certain Spanish don and those pesky windmills? If one believes historical writing is little more than an attack on the Hydra that is established perception, then for every head lopped a new one takes its place. Perhaps one can excuse our compatriot Dolphin for going a bit Joseph Campbell on us, but then I am about to go a bit blurry myself and quote (or invoke) Pontius Pilate: What is Truth (as far as History is concerned, anyway)?
 
A good historian has to be a fantastic story teller and if he forgets the impact of myth and fable in the exposition of narration he will find himself in the realm of the overly tedious! In another thread there was a lot of bluster over the "marching of US troops" in the RFR in celebration of the "The Great Fatherland War" as if the Russian perception of World War II was somehow flawed from the accepted version set forth in Washington and London and the presence of US Marines somehow represented an authentication of the "Evil Empire".
 
How about this little summation:
 
Myth is history made interesting!
Honi soit qui mal y pense
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2010 at 14:49
For me DrG History is myth made more realistic.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2010 at 14:53
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Historian's dispelling myths? Is that not akin to a certain Spanish don and those pesky windmills? If one believes historical writing is little more than an attack on the Hydra that is established perception, then for every head lopped a new one takes its place. Perhaps one can excuse our compatriot Dolphin for going a bit Joseph Campbell on us, but then I am about to go a bit blurry myself and quote (or invoke) Pontius Pilate: What is Truth (as far as History is concerned, anyway)?
 
A good historian has to be a fantastic story teller and if he forgets the impact of myth and fable in the exposition of narration he will find himself in the realm of the overly tedious! In another thread there was a lot of bluster over the "marching of US troops" in the RFR in celebration of the "The Great Fatherland War" as if the Russian perception of World War II was somehow flawed from the accepted version set forth in Washington and London and the presence of US Marines somehow represented an authentication of the "Evil Empire".
 
How about this little summation:
 
Myth is history made interesting!

Funny enough, I was born almost exactly the day Joey Campbell died! So maybe we do have a connection.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Apr 2010 at 14:22
I find the question a bit redundant since national heroes and myths wouldn't have brought into existence if they weren't necessary, and studying the history of almost any region will make it obvious why this is so. I see the worship of figures such as Charles Martel, Constantine XI and Skanderbeg as part of the same pattern. In times of insecurity people will attach themselves to heroes of the past and you'll see a relation between the importance of national heroes and myths and the political situation of the region, the Balkans being the prime example.
Sing, goddess, of Achilles' ruinous anger
Which brought ten thousand pains to the Achaeans,
And cast the souls of many stalwart heroes
To Hades, and their bodies to the dogs
And birds of prey
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