In comparative mythology, parallelomania is the phenomenon in which scholars perceive similarities, parallels and analogies between myths. Ironically, the term is often used in a derogatory manner to describe non-religious scholars.

Examples of parallelomania include, for instance, the fact that many cultures have believed in a deus otiosus, a personal god who interferes with humanity; flooding myths are common also; as are creation myths in which a group of younger, more civilized gods struggle against a group of older gods who represent the forces of chaos; there are also many stories about divine figures whose death creates an essential part of reality; and many mythologies mention a place that sits at the centre of reality and acts as a point of contact between different levels of the universe.

“He was a saviour, Mithras, sent to earth to live as a mortal, through whom it was possible for sinners to be reborn into immortal life. He died for our sins, but came back to life the following Sunday. He was born of a virgin on December 25th, in a manger or perhaps a cave, attended by shepherds, and became known as ‘the light of the world’. He had twelve disciples, with whom he shared a last meal before dying. His devotees symbolically consumed the flesh and blood of him. Because Mithras was a sun god, he was worshipped on Sundays. […] There’s a great deal in Christianity that is traditional. And however wonderful people think the story is, it’s, frankly, not original.”

– Stephen Fry

2 thoughts on “Parallelomania

  1. Alan Davies: “Is he [Mithras] a tribute band?”

    Dara Ó Briain: “And you’re not, kind of, writing off the chance that this was just a massive coincidence?”

    Jo Brand: “There’s a few flaws though, aren’t there? I mean I’ve never heard a bloke go, “Oh, Mithras,” when he’s coming, have you?”

  2. Pingback: Similarites between Christianity and Ancient mythology | Adam's Symposium.

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