Myths of Meaning

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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To some the word myth means lie. It's a myth. To others like Jung and Joseph Campbell the word myth means a collective and universal truth.

The myth of diogenes is a story of a real Greek philosopher named Diogenes from Sinope on the Black Sea who lived in Athens in extreme poverty and asceticism and taugh that man should live by satisfying his natural needs in the easiest practical way, ignoring conventions. He is known as one of the most negative philosphers. According to the myth, he was seen wandering the streets carrying a lantern looking for an honest man. This myth has become symbolic for many writers. The lantern is light or symbolic of truth in an otherwise dark, or dishonest world. Hamlet in Shakespeare's play seeks honesty from his parents, his friends, and women. It is significant to note that while Diogenes never found his one honest man, Hamlet does have Horation who represents one honest man in the rather rotten and dark Denmark of Shakespeare's play.

Others have suggested that perhaps what the myth suggests is that we all must find an inner light in order to walk through the darkness of the world. In this interpretation, the search for the light of truth is an inward one rather than an outward one as the more traditional interpretation of the myth suggests. In this sense of the myth, Hamlet's outward dishonesty would not be a betrayal of his inner truth, and he would become a figure of light seeking to maintain that light in a dark and dangerous world.

The myth of Sisyphus like the myth of Diogenes has been a symbol to many writers including Albert Camus who wrote an essay entitled "The Myth of Sisyphus." According to the myth, he was a king of...