So I asked this question: https://mythology.stackexchange.com/questions/6/why-did-the-trojan-war-really-happen

Clearly, the Trojan War and the Iliad in particular are squarely within the realm of Greek mythology. However, my question is about the relationship between the Mythology and actual history.

Questions clearly must have some sort of link to the Mythology to be asked here, clearly. However, I think that limiting a question like this one (well received, 4 upvotes in the first few hours) is an over-narrowing of site scope.

I think that questions that talk about the relationship between the Mythology and what really happened in history should be on topic. These are questions that are not so easily Googlable. This is exactly where domain expertise comes into play. For instance, it's easy to look up the events/timeline of the Iliad. But a question like this one, not so much.

Of course, the community is free to disagree. What say you, community?

3 Answers 3


I do agree on questions relating history events with the mythological versions being interesting and on-topic. However, the question you mentioned doesn't fit this stack completely as it is, in my opinion. The reason for that is not the topic itself, but the main focus. The way that question is formulated would be more suitable for a History stack than for this one, since it focus on the real events.

To me, the perfect question involving both History and Mythology would be the one asking about the relation between the both. Something around the lines of ("How did the actual history influence the Trojan Wars myth?") That question invites more to explain things about the myth instead of just answering with the history behind it in mind.

This is just my opinion though, I'd love to hear what the rest thinks. :)

  • 1
    I agree in part. You're right that "questions involving both History and Mythology would be the one asking about the relation between the both." However, a better example question would be "How did history influence _____ myth." If you want to compare history to mythology, just read both a history book and a mythology book.
    – user62
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 20:45
  • You're right @Christofian, actually your question shows what I wanted to explain better than mine. If you don't mind, I'll edit my answer :D
    – Alfro
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 7:08

I agree with the other answerers that the original main site question should be offtopic. But my reasoning is slightly different.

The main thrust of reasoning is, what kind of expertise is needed to answer the question?

In this case, who's more likely to know what historial realities made Trojan War really happen (where a proper answer is an in-depth address with primary works citation)? A historian or a mythology scholar?

Clearly, the former would be likelier to be better equipped to produce a good answer. So, that kind of a question, goes to History.SE

Whereas a question that deals with intricacies of Homer's work and the way the history of Troy region affected those intricacies is probably better answerable by a Homer expert, not an Ancient Greek historian.


Questions along this vein are usually fine, but the focus must be on the mythology not the history. Let me break that down with simple examples.

Suppose a Stack Exchange site is about Topic A. Anything "Topic A" is on-topic. Now suppose you have a question about how Topic A is related to Topic B. You can formulate a few questions:

  1. How, when, why did Topic A come from Topic B?
  2. How, when, why did Topic A affect Topic B?

These are good questions for TopicA.SE because the focus is on Topic A, not Topic B. Explanations:

  1. How, when, why did Topic A come from Topic B? This question is asking about the origin of an item that falls under Topic A. From your example, the question might be "When did the myths about the Trojan War come about and what specific events from the war spawned the myths?" In this case, the myths about the Trojan War are Topic A, while the actual historical event of the Trojan War is Topic B.

  2. How, when, why did Topic A affect Topic B? This question is asking about the way Topic A contributed to Topic B. The focus is on Topic A, and Topic B may very well have many other influences that do not fall under Topic A's domain. To follow your example, this would be like asking how a certain mythology affected an historical event. The full story of how that historical event precipitated is likely much more complicated than just how the mythology contributed to if, but the focus of the question is exclusively on how the mythology contributed. Your exact question is close to this, but is instead asking about the actual history not the mythology, so it is off-topic.

This is true for all topics. This site is about Mythology. Every question with two or more topics should focus on the mythology, not on the other topics. For example, on Christianity.SE a question might come in that talks about the relationship between Christianity and Judaism, but its focus is the Judaism, not Christianity; that's off-topic. Another example, History.SE may get a question that is about how the psychology of a certain people group was changed by a certain historical event, but the focus is on the psychology, not the history; that's off-topic.

Summary: All multi-scoped questions must focus on the the mythology aspect, not anything else.

  • Mythology/History questions must be about the mythology, not the history.
  • Mythology/Folklore questions must be about the mythology, not the folklore.
  • Mythology/Anthropology questions must be about the mythology, not the Anthropology.
  • Mythology/Psychology questions must be about the mythology, not the Psychology.

All questions must focus on Mythology, and not any secondary topics.

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