In an attempt to place the three mythological networks on the spectrum from the real to the ﬁctitious, we compared their properties to actual and imaginary social networks. Table 2 summarises the broad properties of the diﬀerent types of networks. Of the three myths, the network of characters in the Iliad has properties most similar to those of real social networks. It has a power-law degree distribution (with an exponential cut-oﬀ), is small world, assortative, vulnerable to targeted attack and is structurally balanced. This similarity perhaps reﬂects the archaeological evidence supporting the historicity of some of the events of the Iliad.
Universal Properties of Mythological Networks
Pádraig Mac Carron, Ralph Kenna
(Submitted on 19 May 2012 (v1), last revised 18 Jul 2012 (this version, v2))
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 show that network analysis is able to discriminate real from imaginary social networks and place mythological narratives on the spectrum between them. Moreover, the perceived artificiality of the Irish narrative can be traced back to anomalous features associated with six characters. Considering these as amalgams of several entities or proxies, renders the plausibility of the Irish text comparable to the others from a network-theoretic point of view.