July 26, 2012

The social network of the Iliad is highly realistic

From the paper:
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.

arXiv:1205.4324v2 [physics.soc-ph]

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.



Michael Boblett said...

Dr. Dienekes, I'd be curious to know if you have any thoughts on the central Irish epic An Lebor Gabála Érenn.

As you are doubtless aware, there is no reference in this or any Irish account to descent from the indigenes of Iberia, despite a lot of politically-motivated chatter recently about the Basques. Instead, Scythia and Greece feature prominently. The latter is hardly surprising given the strongly basal nature of the Greek language in Indo-European.

To your knowledge, has anybody tried to make sense of our funny old stories? I mean, in a way that corresponds to reality?

Nirjhar007 said...

Every Myth has a factual seed.

Grey said...

"Every Myth has a factual seed."

Agree. It's as foolish to ignore them completely as it is to take them completely at face value.