Test: GRE Verbal

History and Myth by Will Floyd

Popular ideas about historical characters are often quite fallacious. In reality, Napoleon Bonaparte was not short, but a perfectly average size for his time. Paul Revere did not make a solo midnight ride to warn the colonial militia that the British were coming. Figures like Robin Hood, Johnny Appleseed, and John Henry have such little actual information about their lives that scholars wonder if they even existed. Despite scholarly concern and arguments, these popular characters and myths continue to form a large part of the common historical imagination.

Recently, some historians have begun to study the myths and legends. No matter how whimsical or ungrounded the stories are, the legends hold a key to how people interpret history. Colleagues seeking to rebut such study have derided those scholars who are analyzing myths. The more skeptical historians accuse the historians who analyze myths and legends as promoting conspiracy theories and providing cover to people with fringe beliefs.  In response, the scholars studying the apocryphal stories claim that they are actually helping to dispel such marginal ideas. By understanding why odd stories and fables get constructed, these new historians say, society is better able to stop new ones from being made. If a historian’s role is to understand the past to navigate the future better, then understanding how myths and legends develop will create a better way to having fewer arise.


The author's argument is best summarized as __________.

the common historical imagination is well separated from any academic consensus

Napoleon Bonaparte was actually average sized, instead of notably short

studying the popular myths and legends of history can be valuable for scholars

apocryphal historical stories hold no value for any serious academic scholarship

certain historians are helping promote conspiracy theories with the scholarship

1/12 questions


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