Anything from the era of Renaissance and forward is viewed as modern era in the study of mythology. Myths were read by medieval church men and they called them FABULA, which means a story or tale, not much meaning was taken from them as bible was of greater importance. But during Renaissance as the ideologies of the church were questioned, the way people viewed myths also began to change.
1.Bernard de Fontenelle (1657 – 1757 CE)
According to Fontenelle, “myths grow up as a reaction of early humans to the natural environment that surrounded them. They are an attempt to explain otherwise difficult to understand strange features of our natural world”.
Ancient humans developed explanations for things such as mountains, valleys, thunder etc. in myths. This is called as proto science as they had no scientific means of explaining such things like we do now.
2.David Hume (1711 – 1776 CE)
Hume considered myths as stories made by humans who feared things and they were nothing more than just stories. Hence not worth a lot of our time.
both Hume and Fontenelle said that myths were born out of fear.
3.Christian Gottlob Heyne (1729 – 1812 CE)
He was the first to study myths as classics, a precursor to what is studied in universities today. Heyne said that in order to study the ancient world one has to understand myths. It is like studying geography, linguistic or biography. He believed it was not just fear that made people come up with such tales but also awe and wonder.
Heyne coined the term muthos, as he was not satisfied with the word fabula and said that myths are concrete forms of abstract ideas.
4.Johann Gottfried Herder (1744 – 1803 CE)
His ideas were based on romanticism. He denies earlier views and says that myths are deeply profound and true. Myths were innate to humans. He thought of it as a larger form of expression, almost similar to poetry.