Universal properties of mythological networks

P. Mac Carron, Ralph Kenna

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    56 Citations (Scopus)


    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, 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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number28002
    JournalEurophysics Letters
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2012

    Bibliographical note

    The full text is available free from the link given. The published version can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1209/0295-5075/99/28002 .


    • statistical mechanical tools
    • comparative mythology
    • mythological narratives
    • quantitative features
    • social networks


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