jm + network-analysis   1

Universal properties of mythological networks - Abstract - EPL (Europhysics Letters) - IOPscience
Abstract:

As in statistical physics, the concept of universality plays an important, albeit qualitative, role in the field of comparative mythology. Here we apply statistical mechanical tools to analyse the networks underlying three iconic mythological narratives with a view to identifying common and distinguishing quantitative features. Of the three narratives, an Anglo-Saxon and a Greek text are mostly believed by antiquarians to be partly historically based while the third, an Irish epic [jm: "An Táin Bó Cúailnge", The Tain, to be specific], is often considered to be fictional. Here we use network analysis in an attempt to discriminate real from imaginary social networks and place mythological narratives on the spectrum between them. This suggests that the perceived artificiality of the Irish narrative can be traced back to anomalous features associated with six characters. Speculating that these are amalgams of several entities or proxies, renders the plausibility of the Irish text comparable to the others from a network-theoretic point of view.


Here's what the Irish Times said:

The society in the 1st century story of the Táin Bó Cúailnge looked artificial at first analysis of the networks between 404 characters in the story. However, the researchers found the society reflected real rather than fictional networks when the weakest links to six of the characters are removed.

These six characters included Medb, Queen of Connacht; Conchobor, King of Ulster and Cúchulainn. They were "similar to superheroes of the Marvel universe" and are "too superhuman" or too well-connected to be real, researchers said. The researchers suggest that each of these superhuman characters may be an amalgam of many which became fused and exaggerated as the story was passed down orally through generations.
networks  society  the-tain  epics  history  mythology  ireland  statistics  network-analysis  papers 
july 2012 by jm

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