Myths


Ship of Theseus
This particular version of the paradox was first introduced in Greek legend as reported by the historian, biographer, and essayist Plutarch. Plutarch thus questions whether the ship would remain the same if it were entirely replaced, piece by piece. Centuries later, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes introduced a further puzzle, wondering what would happen if the original planks were gathered up after they were replaced, and used to build a second ship. Hobbes asked which ship, if either, would be the original Ship of Theseus.

George Washington's axe (sometimes "my grandfather's axe") is the subject of an apocryphal story of unknown origin in which the famous artifact is "still George Washington's axe" despite having had both its head and handle replaced.

This has also been recited as "Abe Lincoln's axe"; Lincoln was well known for his ability with an axe, and axes associated with his life are held in various museums.

The French equivalent is the story of Jeannot's knife, where the eponymous knife has had its blade changed fifteen times and its handle fifteen times, but is still the same knife. In some[which?] Spanish-speaking countries, Jeannot's knife is present as a proverb, though referred to simply as "the family knife". The principle, however, remains the same.

A Hungarian version of the story features "Lajos Kossuth's pocket knife", having its blade and handle continuously replaced but still being referred to as the very knife of the famous statesman. As a proverbial expression it is used for objects or solutions being repeatedly renewed and gradually replaced to an extent that it has no original parts.




Azerbaijan
"Do a good deed, and throw it into the sea. If the fish don't know (appreciate it), the Creator will."

This proverb, like many others, is based upon a popular folk story. Once a poor man made it a practice of throwing two loaves of bread into the sea every day for the fish to eat. Unaccustomed to bread, the fish ignored his gesture. But the effort was not wasted, as a prince who had become lost at sea found it. The bread sustained him until he was rescued. Afterwards, he sought out the poor man who had provided the bread and made him a very rich man.



"When we talk about Aboriginal science, don’t forget we're the ones who turned a stick in to a boomerang, without aeronautical engineering degrees," Jim Walker, Former Manager of Indigenous Engagement at CSIRO (Australia’s federal agency for scientific research) said at a panel discussion at Brisbane’s World Science Festival in March.

Walker is from the Iman and Gureng Gureng peoples of Central Queensland and he was joined by two other Indigenous Australians who work in science, to discuss the concept of Aboriginal science and its relationship with its Western counterpart. Walker gave the example that his culture group used to tell children a beast called Mundigai lived in the cold water of their area. As a child, as soon as he swam in to cold water, he would retreat to the warmer areas. In fact, there was no Mundigai and the adults were using their knowledge that the deep water was always colder than shallow areas, to keep children safe from downing.




Arapaho Creation Myth: "Before the earth was inhabited it was covered with water. A pipe floated on top as a boat for the Great Spirit. In the boat with the Great Spirit were a duck, a beaver and a turtle. The Great Spirit knew that clay was at the bottom of the water so he asked the turtle to go down and bring Him some. But the turtle came back unable to reach the bottom. The beaver was also unsuccessful. The duck went next. He stayed longer and returned with some clay in his bill. The Great Spirit took the clay and threw it to the four different winds to form dry ground. Then He made the moon and after that men and women from whom The People descended. The sacred pipe was given to them and they were instructed as to its care. The pipe was made of wood so hard and so shining that many thought it stone." (Boulder County: An Illustrated History, Noel & Corson, 1999)




Jūratė and Kastytis is one of the most famous and popular Lithuanian legends and tales. For the first time it was recorded in 1842 in the writings of Liudvikas Adomas Jucevičius. Since then it has been adapted many times for modern poems, ballets, and even rock operas. The authenticity of the entire story is questioned due to the possible influence of popular contemporary romantic tales.

The plot greatly varies between the different versions. However, the basic facts remain the same. Goddess (sometimes described as a mermaid or undine) Jūratė (from the noun jūra meaning the sea) lived under the Baltic Sea in a beautiful amber castle. She ruled the sea and all of the sea-life. A young fisherman named Kastytis was disturbing the peace as he was catching a lot of fish. Jūratė decided to punish him and restore the peace, but she fell in love with the handsome young fisherman. They spent some happy times in the castle, but Perkūnas, the thunder-god, found out that the immortal goddess had fallen in love with a mortal man. He became furious and struck the amber castle. It exploded into millions of pieces. Then Jūratė was chained to either the ruins or a rock on the seafloor by Perkūnas. According to legend, that is why pieces of amber come ashore after a storm on the Baltic Sea.

Jūratė rescued Kastytis from drowning in a storm. According to other variations, Kastytis was killed by Perkūnas and Jūratė mourns him to this day. Her tear drops are amber pieces washed ashore and one could hear her sad voice in a stormy sea. Sometimes it is said that Kastytis comes from Šventoji town north of Palanga.




Sadko played the gusli on the shores of a lake. The Sea Tsar enjoyed his music, and offered to help him. Sadko was instructed to make a bet with the local merchants about catching a certain fish in the lake; when he caught it (as provided by the Tsar), the merchants had to pay the wager, making Sadko a rich merchant.

Sadko traded on the seas with his new wealth, but did not pay proper respects to the Tsar as per their agreement. The Tsar stopped Sadko's ships in the sea. He and his sailors tried to appease the Sea Tsar with gold, to no avail. Sadko's crew forced him to jump into the sea. There, he played the gusli for the Sea Tsar, who offered him a new bride. On advice, he took the last maiden in a long line, and lay down beside her. He woke up on the shore and rejoined his wife.

In some variants, Sadko is chosen to jump overboard by throwing lots between the men. This motif, derived from the Biblical story of Jonah, is a widespread device, appearing, for instance, in Child ballad 57 Brown Robyn's Confession. Sadko can be viewed as a metaphor for Yaroslav the Wise. The liberation of the Novgorodian people by Sadko can also be linked to the establishment of the Novgorod Republic by Yaroslav. Sadko may also be based on a certain Sedko Sitinits, who is mentioned in the Novgorodian First Chronicle as the patron of the stone Church of Boris and Gleb built in the Novgorodian Detinets in 1167.

Gusli is the oldest Russian multi-string plucked instrument. Its exact history is unknown. It may have derived from a Byzantine form of the Greek kythare, which in turn derived from the ancient lyre. It has its relatives throughout the world: kantele in Finland, kannel in Estonia, kanklės, or kokle in Lithuania and Latvia. Furthermore, the kanun has been found in Arabic countries, and the autoharp, in the USA. It is also related to such ancient instruments as Chinese gu zheng, which has a thousand-year history, and its Japanese relative koto.

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