History Main / Demythtification

25th Jul '16 1:01:45 PM VVK
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Incidentally, the technical term for this technique is {{Euhemerism}} named after a 4th-century BCE Greek, making the trope OlderThanFeudalism. Sometimes coupled with a less than subtle TakeThat against religion, particularly {{Anvilicious}} writers will give the characters [[OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions anachronistically agnostic attitudes towards the gods]].

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Incidentally, the technical term for this technique is {{Euhemerism}} ''Euhemerism'', named after a 4th-century BCE Greek, making the trope OlderThanFeudalism. Sometimes coupled with a less than subtle TakeThat against religion, particularly {{Anvilicious}} writers will give the characters [[OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions anachronistically agnostic attitudes towards the gods]].
4th Jun '16 2:19:48 AM erforce
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* ''Film/LifeOfBrian'', despite expectations, actually subverts this. It follows the whacky misadventures of a man that is repeatedly mistaken for a prophet in Roman Galilee, from his adoration by the Three Wisemen to his crucifixion by the Romans, and shows (accurately) that there were many self proclaimed prophets in that time and place. The movie does not make comment on Jesus' nature, however, and he stays offscreen except for one scene early in the movie where he is seen addressing people from the top of a hill. Despite this, many censorers considered the film blasphemous and [[BannedInChina it was denied a release in several countries for decades]].

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* ''Film/LifeOfBrian'', ''Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian'', despite expectations, actually subverts this. It follows the whacky misadventures of a man that is repeatedly mistaken for a prophet in Roman Galilee, from his adoration by the Three Wisemen to his crucifixion by the Romans, and shows (accurately) that there were many self proclaimed prophets in that time and place. The movie does not make comment on Jesus' nature, however, and he stays offscreen except for one scene early in the movie where he is seen addressing people from the top of a hill. Despite this, many censorers considered the film blasphemous and [[BannedInChina it was denied a release in several countries for decades]].



* The short story "The Gardens of Tantalus" by BrianStableford, collected in ''Classical Whodunnits'', is a Demythification of the [[SnakePeople Lamia]] incident in Philostratus's ''Life of Apollonius of Tyana'', in which the "lamia" is a human, but metaphorically venomous, FemmeFatale, and Apollonius's own "magic" is a combination of natural philosophy and common sense. The story is [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis supposedly written]] by [[TheWatson a student of Apollonius]], who is tired of mythological tales attaching themselves to a rationalist philosopher.

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* The short story "The Gardens of Tantalus" by BrianStableford, Creator/BrianStableford, collected in ''Classical Whodunnits'', is a Demythification of the [[SnakePeople Lamia]] incident in Philostratus's ''Life of Apollonius of Tyana'', in which the "lamia" is a human, but metaphorically venomous, FemmeFatale, and Apollonius's own "magic" is a combination of natural philosophy and common sense. The story is [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis supposedly written]] by [[TheWatson a student of Apollonius]], who is tired of mythological tales attaching themselves to a rationalist philosopher.
8th May '16 7:22:42 PM PaulA
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* ''Black Horses for the King'' by AnneMcCaffrey, told from the viewpoint of a stable boy.
* ''The Last Legion'' by Valerio Massimo Manfredi. Made into a movie with Creator/ColinFirth and BenKingsley.

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* ''Black Horses for the King'' by AnneMcCaffrey, Creator/AnneMcCaffrey, told from the viewpoint of a stable boy.
* ''The Last Legion'' by Valerio Massimo Manfredi. Made into a movie with Creator/ColinFirth and BenKingsley.Creator/BenKingsley.
3rd May '16 8:19:04 AM TheOneWhoTropes
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* In Creator/PoulAnderson's Literature/TimePatrol story "Brave To Be A King", Manse finds that the MosesInTheBullrushes legend is being told about Cyrus the Great in his lifetime, and learns that the actual Cyrus was exposed and killed, and the recovered one was actually the time traveler Manse was looking for. To keep history on track, they go back and intimidate the grandfather out of trying to kill Cyrus -- so that the legend must have become attached to Cyrus at a later date.

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* In Creator/PoulAnderson's Literature/TimePatrol story "Brave To Be A King", Manse finds that the MosesInTheBullrushes MosesInTheBulrushes legend is being told about Cyrus the Great in his lifetime, and learns that the actual Cyrus was exposed and killed, and the recovered one was actually the time traveler Manse was looking for. To keep history on track, they go back and intimidate the grandfather out of trying to kill Cyrus -- so that the legend must have become attached to Cyrus at a later date.
20th Aug '15 9:38:54 AM fusilcontrafusil
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* ''Literature/TheWarlordChronicles'' - Nimue, Morgan and Merlin's "magic" is a masterful mix of psychology, timing and chutzpah. The UnreliableNarrator is predisposed to believe in pagan magic, and believes every trick, Merlin and co. pull until Merlin explains in detail how he did it. Sometimes he still believes, despite the explanation. Similarly, pagan ceremonial magic is a mix of [[BatmanGambit psychology]], showmanship, trickery, and taking credit for natural occurrences.

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* ''Literature/TheWarlordChronicles'' - by Creator/BernardCornwell. Nimue, Morgan and Merlin's "magic" is a masterful mix of psychology, timing and chutzpah. The UnreliableNarrator is predisposed to believe in pagan magic, and believes every trick, Merlin and co. pull until Merlin explains in detail how he did it. Sometimes he still believes, despite the explanation. Similarly, pagan ceremonial magic is a mix of [[BatmanGambit psychology]], showmanship, trickery, and taking credit for natural occurrences.
20th Aug '15 7:30:28 AM Chabal2
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Added DiffLines:

[[folder:VideoGames]]
* ''VideoGame/EmpireEarth'' zigzags this for its Greek campaign. The first level has a village chieftain named Hierakles lead his people to a new land where they build a temple and a city on top of a hill (the Acropolis), the Trojan War was fought by a few city-states against a city with vastly superior technology, Theseus was a leader of Athens who united the outlying city-states against Sparta and Thebes until the gods took him away.
[[/folder]]
20th Jul '15 2:52:45 PM Vios
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* The ''Literature/DarthBane'' trilogy does this to an extent internally within the Star Wars universe, though it is still a case of this and not DoingInTheWizard. [[CanonDiscontinuity Originally the story]] of the Battle of Ruusan and the rise of Darth Bane was told in a pair of comic books that had elements more in line with Lord of the Rings than Star Wars including what appeared to be sailing ships in space and bows and arrows alongside lightsabers that felt extremely out of place in Star Wars. This was fixed in the Drew Karpyshyn novels that changed those elements to be more in line with the movies as well as the game Knights of the Old Republic(that actually took place chronologically earlier), which is by no coincidence written by the same author. It also has Force powers that are between the absurd mythic elements of the comic books and the movies in terms of abilities. Within the novel Bane even comments about how unrealistic some of the extreme Force abilities appear.

to:

* The ''Literature/DarthBane'' trilogy does this to an extent internally within the Star Wars universe, though it is still a case of this and not DoingInTheWizard. [[CanonDiscontinuity Originally the story]] of the Battle of Ruusan and the rise of Darth Bane was told in a pair of comic books that had elements more in line with Lord of the Rings than Star Wars including what appeared to be sailing ships in space and bows and arrows alongside lightsabers that felt extremely out of place in Star Wars. This was fixed in the Drew Karpyshyn Creator/DrewKarpyshyn novels that changed those elements to be more in line with the movies as well as the game Knights of the Old Republic(that actually took place chronologically earlier), which is by no coincidence written by the same author. It also has Force powers that are between the absurd mythic elements of the comic books and the movies in terms of abilities. Within the novel Bane even comments about how unrealistic some of the extreme Force abilities appear.
1st Jun '15 3:04:54 AM Morgenthaler
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** Creator/LeoTolstoy's [[http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Gospel_in_Brief The Gospel in Brief]] does much the same as it tries to infer the life and teachings of Jesus without the myths that Tolstoy believed to be later applied to them. Tolstoy goes through with this more thoroughly than Jefferson however as he applies it not only to what passages he includes and excludes, but also to the entire translation proses itself.

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** * Creator/LeoTolstoy's [[http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Gospel_in_Brief The Gospel in Brief]] does much the same as it tries to infer the life and teachings of Jesus without the myths that Tolstoy believed to be later applied to them. Tolstoy goes through with this more thoroughly than Jefferson however as he applies it not only to what passages he includes and excludes, but also to the entire translation proses itself.
1st Jun '15 3:04:09 AM Morgenthaler
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** The waters get muddy in the third book. There are some {{Contrived Coincidence}}s where genuine magic is also plausible: Ceinwyn's illness just ''happens'' to take place at the same time that [[spoiler:Nimue]] curses her, and that she briefly gets better while [[spoiler:Nimue]] demonstrates her power to influence her health from afar. And then there's the GrandFinale, where Merlin's magic stone apparently summons magic mist out of thin air.
*** This can be explained by the UnreliableNarrator. Monk!Derfel grows more and more re-attached to his old belief system as the story progresses (which shows subtly in the introduction chapters dealing with the "present"), which can explain how his narrative goes from mostly skeptical in the beginning to more fantastical in the end.
1st Jun '15 3:03:16 AM Morgenthaler
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* ''TheWarlordChronicles'' - Nimue, Morgan and Merlin's "magic" is a masterful mix of psychology, timing and chutzpah. The UnreliableNarrator is predisposed to believe in pagan magic, and believes every trick, Merlin and co. pull until Merlin explains in detail how he did it. Sometimes he still believes, despite the explanation. Similarly, pagan ceremonial magic is a mix of [[BatmanGambit psychology]], showmanship, trickery, and taking credit for natural occurrences.

to:

* ''TheWarlordChronicles'' ''Literature/TheWarlordChronicles'' - Nimue, Morgan and Merlin's "magic" is a masterful mix of psychology, timing and chutzpah. The UnreliableNarrator is predisposed to believe in pagan magic, and believes every trick, Merlin and co. pull until Merlin explains in detail how he did it. Sometimes he still believes, despite the explanation. Similarly, pagan ceremonial magic is a mix of [[BatmanGambit psychology]], showmanship, trickery, and taking credit for natural occurrences.



* AndreNorton's novella "Pendragon: Artos, Son of Marius" - one of the quartet of stories in ''Dragon Magic'' - is set in post-Roman Britain. It ends with an explanation of the later legends of Arthur's death - he was secretly buried in such a way as to give his followers hope of his eventual return.

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* AndreNorton's Creator/AndreNorton's novella "Pendragon: Artos, Son of Marius" - one of the quartet of stories in ''Dragon Magic'' - is set in post-Roman Britain. It ends with an explanation of the later legends of Arthur's death - he was secretly buried in such a way as to give his followers hope of his eventual return.



* MarkTwain's ''Literature/AConnecticutYankeeInKingArthursCourt'' portrays the magic in the Arthurian legend as fraudsters (including the title character) fooling the ignorant. Also subverted, when said title character falls unconscious for 1500 years so that he can personally deliver the story to Twain.

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* MarkTwain's Creator/MarkTwain's ''Literature/AConnecticutYankeeInKingArthursCourt'' portrays the magic in the Arthurian legend as fraudsters (including the title character) fooling the ignorant. Also subverted, when said title character falls unconscious for 1500 years so that he can personally deliver the story to Twain.



* ''The Great Captains'' by Henry Treece. His version of Arthur and co. also appear in ''The Green Man'', a retelling of {{Hamlet}} based on the original Danish legend.

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* ''The Great Captains'' by Henry Treece. His version of Arthur and co. also appear in ''The Green Man'', a retelling of {{Hamlet}} Theatre/{{Hamlet}} based on the original Danish legend.



* ''JesusChristSuperstar'' and ''TheLastTemptationOfChrist'', although they don't debate Jesus' divinity, do question him from [[SympathyForTheDevil Judas' point of view]], and seemingly [[DoingInTheWizard do in the wizard]] with respect to physical miracles and angels incarnate. Rather than being made to look especially fallible, Jesus counsels his followers to be more sensible, but his [[ExternalRetcon best intentions are tragically unheeded by his flock]].

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* ''JesusChristSuperstar'' ''Music/JesusChristSuperstar'' and ''TheLastTemptationOfChrist'', ''Film/TheLastTemptationOfChrist'', although they don't debate Jesus' divinity, do question him from [[SympathyForTheDevil Judas' point of view]], and seemingly [[DoingInTheWizard do in the wizard]] with respect to physical miracles and angels incarnate. Rather than being made to look especially fallible, Jesus counsels his followers to be more sensible, but his [[ExternalRetcon best intentions are tragically unheeded by his flock]].



* ''TheRedTent'' does this with the story of Dinah (daughter of Jacob) in the Old Testament. In this story, instead of Dinah being raped by the prince of Shechem, they had a consensual relationship that her brothers didn't approve of. Instead of Jacob's visions and name change (to Israel) being seen as from God, they are seen as a man slowly going crazy as his family falls apart.

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* ''TheRedTent'' ''Literature/TheRedTent'' does this with the story of Dinah (daughter of Jacob) in the Old Testament. In this story, instead of Dinah being raped by the prince of Shechem, they had a consensual relationship that her brothers didn't approve of. Instead of Jacob's visions and name change (to Israel) being seen as from God, they are seen as a man slowly going crazy as his family falls apart.



* ''{{Troy}}'' purposefully strips out the prominent supernatural elements of the original poems -- or [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane renders them ambiguous]]. The gods are never seen, and never act, despite their large roles as {{Physical God}}s in {{Homer}}s telling. Achilles is a NayTheist who pooh-poohs the gods at every turn. Hector, of all people, paraphrases Stalin: "How many battalions does the sun god command?" The priest of Apollo acts as an inverted Cassandra -- he always gives exactly the wrong advice and is always believed.

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* ''{{Troy}}'' ''Film/{{Troy}}'' purposefully strips out the prominent supernatural elements of the original poems -- or [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane renders them ambiguous]]. The gods are never seen, and never act, despite their large roles as {{Physical God}}s in {{Homer}}s telling. Achilles is a NayTheist who pooh-poohs the gods at every turn. Hector, of all people, paraphrases Stalin: "How many battalions does the sun god command?" The priest of Apollo acts as an inverted Cassandra -- he always gives exactly the wrong advice and is always believed.



* Creator/CSLewis's ''TillWeHaveFaces'' is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. The jealousy of Ungit (Venus) for Istra (Psyche)'s beauty is presented as the jealousy of the priest of Ungit for drawing away worshipers. Psyche's "marriage" to the god of the Grey Mountain (Cupid) is being chained to a tree on the side of a mountain as a sacrifice. Orual later finds Istra living on the mountainside, clearly insane and claiming to live in a palace that Orual cannot see. [[spoiler:Turns out to be a subversion, as Orual later sees the god with her own eyes.]] \\

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* Creator/CSLewis's ''TillWeHaveFaces'' ''Literature/TillWeHaveFaces'' is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. The jealousy of Ungit (Venus) for Istra (Psyche)'s beauty is presented as the jealousy of the priest of Ungit for drawing away worshipers. Psyche's "marriage" to the god of the Grey Mountain (Cupid) is being chained to a tree on the side of a mountain as a sacrifice. Orual later finds Istra living on the mountainside, clearly insane and claiming to live in a palace that Orual cannot see. [[spoiler:Turns out to be a subversion, as Orual later sees the god with her own eyes.]] \\



* OsamuTezuka's ''{{Phoenix}}'' series often features this, despite the title character being an immortal god-bird. Many characters in the earlier historical chapters are gods and other figures from Myth/JapaneseMythology re-imagined as ordinary humans and ''Strange Beings'' & ''Robe of Feathers'' imply that various mythical creatures are actually aliens or time travelers. Tezuka dispensed with this as time went on, however, with the final completed volume, ''Sun'' featuring such oddities as battles between {{Youkai}}s and Bodhisattvas and retconning the alien angle out of the aforementioned ''Strange Beings'' (although ''Sun'' goes back and forth between the past and the (then) future of 2008, and it's entirely possible the part bits are an hallucination).
* Anime/KyogokuNatsuhikoKosetsuHyakuMonogatari features a strange subversion where a trio of outright supernatural beings are using their powers to fake or perpetuate myths of other supernatural beings. Through the series many myths and legends are examined and many of them are simply the trio using trickery to fool others. For example a sociopathic murderer is explained away as a ''tanuki'', a shapeshifting badger dog, who is suffering from ShapeshifterModelock.

to:

* OsamuTezuka's ''{{Phoenix}}'' Creator/OsamuTezuka's ''Manga/{{Phoenix}}'' series often features this, despite the title character being an immortal god-bird. Many characters in the earlier historical chapters are gods and other figures from Myth/JapaneseMythology re-imagined as ordinary humans and ''Strange Beings'' & ''Robe of Feathers'' imply that various mythical creatures are actually aliens or time travelers. Tezuka dispensed with this as time went on, however, with the final completed volume, ''Sun'' featuring such oddities as battles between {{Youkai}}s and Bodhisattvas and retconning the alien angle out of the aforementioned ''Strange Beings'' (although ''Sun'' goes back and forth between the past and the (then) future of 2008, and it's entirely possible the part bits are an hallucination).
* Anime/KyogokuNatsuhikoKosetsuHyakuMonogatari ''Anime/KyogokuNatsuhikoKosetsuHyakuMonogatari'' features a strange subversion where a trio of outright supernatural beings are using their powers to fake or perpetuate myths of other supernatural beings. Through the series many myths and legends are examined and many of them are simply the trio using trickery to fool others. For example a sociopathic murderer is explained away as a ''tanuki'', a shapeshifting badger dog, who is suffering from ShapeshifterModelock.



* ''The13thWarrior'' (originally titled ''Eaters of the Dead'') combines the story of ''Literature/{{Beowulf}}'' with Ahmed ibn Fadlan's 10th century travelogue of Europe. In this story, ibn Fadlan joins a Norse rescue mission to face a seemingly supernatural enemy. Instead of Grendel, the enemy is a [[spoiler:tribe of cannibalistic Neanderthals]]. Grendel's mother is replaced by the [[spoiler:tribe's]] matriarch. The dragon is just an optical illusion created by [[spoiler:Neanderthal raiders carrying torches]] as they stream down from their mountain lair. However, the story does dabble in some standard wise woman prophecy and mysticism (in the book done by dwarves, who are real humans with dwarfism).

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* ''The13thWarrior'' ''Literature/TheThirteenthWarrior'' (originally titled ''Eaters of the Dead'') combines the story of ''Literature/{{Beowulf}}'' with Ahmed ibn Fadlan's 10th century travelogue of Europe. In this story, ibn Fadlan joins a Norse rescue mission to face a seemingly supernatural enemy. Instead of Grendel, the enemy is a [[spoiler:tribe of cannibalistic Neanderthals]]. Grendel's mother is replaced by the [[spoiler:tribe's]] matriarch. The dragon is just an optical illusion created by [[spoiler:Neanderthal raiders carrying torches]] as they stream down from their mountain lair. However, the story does dabble in some standard wise woman prophecy and mysticism (in the book done by dwarves, who are real humans with dwarfism).



* The DarthBane trilogy does this to an extent internally within the Star Wars universe, though it is still a case of this and not DoingInTheWizard. [[CanonDiscontinuity Originally the story]] of the Battle of Ruusan and the rise of Darth Bane was told in a pair of comic books that had elements more in line with Lord of the Rings than Star Wars including what appeared to be sailing ships in space and bows and arrows alongside lightsabers that felt extremely out of place in Star Wars. This was fixed in the Drew Karpyshyn novels that changed those elements to be more in line with the movies as well as the game Knights of the Old Republic(that actually took place chronologically earlier), which is by no coincidence written by the same author. It also has Force powers that are between the absurd mythic elements of the comic books and the movies in terms of abilities. Within the novel Bane even comments about how unrealistic some of the extreme Force abilities appear.
* "Frost and Thunder" by RandallGarrett has the main character time-transported to ancient Scandanavia. He uses his pistol to help the locals defeat the "giants" before being returned to the present. Afterwards, he muses that he was probably assumed to be a god -- specifically, [[spoiler: Thor, with his "hammer" that creates thunder, kills distant enemies, and returns to his hand]]

to:

* The DarthBane ''Literature/DarthBane'' trilogy does this to an extent internally within the Star Wars universe, though it is still a case of this and not DoingInTheWizard. [[CanonDiscontinuity Originally the story]] of the Battle of Ruusan and the rise of Darth Bane was told in a pair of comic books that had elements more in line with Lord of the Rings than Star Wars including what appeared to be sailing ships in space and bows and arrows alongside lightsabers that felt extremely out of place in Star Wars. This was fixed in the Drew Karpyshyn novels that changed those elements to be more in line with the movies as well as the game Knights of the Old Republic(that actually took place chronologically earlier), which is by no coincidence written by the same author. It also has Force powers that are between the absurd mythic elements of the comic books and the movies in terms of abilities. Within the novel Bane even comments about how unrealistic some of the extreme Force abilities appear.
* "Frost and Thunder" by RandallGarrett Creator/RandallGarrett has the main character time-transported to ancient Scandanavia. He uses his pistol to help the locals defeat the "giants" before being returned to the present. Afterwards, he muses that he was probably assumed to be a god -- specifically, [[spoiler: Thor, with his "hammer" that creates thunder, kills distant enemies, and returns to his hand]]
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