Two important categories of myths that remain very much alive in American schools are those from classical Greece and Rome, and world mythologies.
The former were simply part of the worldview and diction of antiquity, not at all a matter of coherent pantheons, as it would appear from modern textbooks and lists of mythical symbols, but instead a situation where deities and heroes were respected primarily as the powerful figures of specific cities or locales.
In educated circles, myths or mythical materials can be concepts, images, symbols, and narratives.
They may be regarded variously by different persons, within specific sociohistorical contexts, as being more or less important at different stages of biosocial development.
Certainly biblical folklore and mythology presents a third most important source of Western mythological traditions, but today “world mythology” has become yet more central in most educational contexts, even at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, where the English department is responsible for the humanities education of the plebes.
The Academy has found world mythology to be an excellent way to inculcate tolerance and receptivity to other world cultures (primarily using one of the many widely available collections, such as Donna Rosenberg’s ).
It is easy to note their afterlife in language, as is seen in English-language adjectives originating from the Greeks: hermetic, mercurial, Apollonian, Dionysian, narcissistic, oedipal.
Many of these figures reflect the central roles of creativity and development that somehow always recur as an important dimension of the mythological.
Accordingly, adolescents may deconstruct mythic heroes during the transitions from the sixth to the twelfth grade.
Myths have often been labeled as “sacred,” or at least as essential parts of the religio-ritual-scriptural complexes of religious institutions.