Interpret "History is part myth, part hope and part rea
One may wonder then how it can be anything but the truth.
Most often, "History is written by the winners"; thus, the accounts of historical events are, from the beginning, biased.
Though biases infiltrate History from its initiation, this is not the only way in which History is tainted.
Throughout the years, History is retold, reinterpreted and changed becoming little more than "part myth, part hope and part reality".
Originally, people used stories and epics to retell their pasts.
Occasionally, it was nothing more than that.
An individual might create a story to explain the beginning of the universe.
Another may have told a story explaining the origin of rain.
Even today, we believe in such accounts to explain the unexplainable.
Christians, for example, read the Bible to discern such events as the beginning of the earth.
For those who believe, those accounts are indeed what happened; for those who remain unbelievers, some aspects of man's past will continue to be unexplainable.
Nonetheless, the most ancient History is based on something about which we may never be certain, so History, in a sense, originates from myth.
Trying to discern what is "real" in History should be the most simplistic part of analysis.
Regardless of the interpretation, the events will remain relatively unchanged.
Through the years, the details of the story and the way in which the story is told change.
The real component of History is perhaps the most important because without this section there would, in essence, be no History.
Historians would have nothing to write about having no events on which to base their accounts.
If it were possible to write History without a trace of hope nor myth, it would still remain impossible to create History without real events.
Is it possible to find "pure" History? One might think the answer to such a question would be easy; for, History obviously begins in a pure form.
An event happens, and someone is there to witness it.
Unfortunately, creating History is not that simple.
A major portion of what we know about the past comes from documented accounts.
As the saying goes "There are two sides to every story." Unfortunately, there is not always a chance for both sides to record their stories, so that which is passed on to other civilizations is one-sided and may not necessarily reflect the truth.
Everyone can think of a situation in which he exaggerated the truth either to impress others or to avoid embarrassment.
must try to discern falsehood in the old records, such as attempts of kings to make themselves look better than they really were." 1 A common example of exaggerated History is Roosevelt's charge on "San Juan Hill".
For centuries, Roosevelt and his "Rough Riders" have been noted for their daring charge on Kettle Hill.
Many still refer to his men as the Rough Riders, regardless of the fact that many of them attacked on foot.
Say, hypothetically, that someone was able to give an account of an event without including a single bias.
If the unbiased account was a written one, the only way a bias could become part of the report would be through another person.
It would seem that, eventually, someone would change the account to suit his liking.
Not all historical information is written; some may be discovered as pottery or monuments.
Such information is, by nature, unbiased and only carries biases after being interpreted by a historian.
Eventually, the mythical aspect of History creeps into the facts, blending facts with fiction.
Archeologists and historians are not always certain of historical artifacts which they may uncover.
Not recognizing that which he has found, a historian may write about the artifact hoping he has discovered something unbelievable.
He may assume that it comes from an undiscovered society, and in doing so he has altered History.
A Historian, much the same as anyone, may hope that he will discover something amazing, something that has not yet been thought of.
Everyone has a certain hope of finding something new and intriguing.
For Historians, such a hope may be even deeper set in that he has numerous opportunities to think up amazing ideas.
History is not the only field in which a breakdown of reality, hope and mythology occurs.
Virtually any field of study will display such a separation.
Science may not be quite mythical, but it is one field which is bombarded with hope.
Each and every hypothesis formed by a scientist is a hope reflecting that which he longs to prove.
Mathematics too can be part myth because much of Math is based on assumptions.
Students learn that one added to one equals two (1+1=2) because that is a standard which has been established worldwide, but what would happen if someone were to prove something contrary to that, or if the standard were to change? Math tends to be highly theoretical, which means there is plenty of room for altered interpretations.
In the field of English, novels, especially those of the romantic era, are filled with nothing but hope and myth, and it is not unusual that a novel be based on some aspect of the author's life.
It appears that the qualities of hope, myth and reality can be found in virtually any field of study.
It is not uncommon to find traces of myth, hope and reality in History.
Though we may feel History would be best should it be a completely unbiased account, there is little we can do to remove the biases from the sources.
Analyzing other fields of study shows that such characteristics are not only seen in History but in other fields as well.
Perhaps it would be better to say, "Life is part myth, part hope and part reality." As a result, every person must choose for himself that which he is going to believe.
1Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia.
Copyright (c) 1994, 1995 Compton's NewMedia, Inc.