I love myths. I make no bones about it. Be it Greek, Hindu or Nordic, it offers us gods; superheroes that can fly, shape-shift, wield immense weapons and control the elements. Except they’re not super. They’re fallible, flawed beings, as subject to love, jealousy, lust and wrath as mortal man. Prometheus, the Titan god, stole the secret of fire from Olympus to give to man, whom he made from clay. King of the gods, Zeus, punished him with the daily torture of having his liver torn out.
Mythology offers us the birth of the world. A cypher for the cycles of nature. A framework for death. The Egyptian sun god, Ra, was born from the sky goddess and at nightfall entered the underworld, only to be reborn the next morning. In Hindu myths we have Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who are creator, maintainer and destroyer of the universe respectively, keeping birth and death in balance.
On an academic level they are an important charter of the culture and psyche of the period in which they were written. For example, the Vikings gave meaning to their death by promise of a seat in Valhalla, where they could spend eternity feasting and fighting. A fitting afterlife for a nation of warriors. Read Heart of the Labyrinth: Myth as the Starting Point for Storytelling