In the preceding discussion, the main subject was the myth of the divine combat with the sea—both in the Urzeit of world origins, and in the Endzeit to come for the nation in travail. In all cases, this myth was repeatedly revised and incorporated into prayers and prophecies to meet the needs of changing circumstances or concerns. But however varied the voice of the speaker who refers to these mythic events, or who is invested in their reality and recurrence, the concern is with communal crises, and not a difficulty in the life of any specific individual or personality. Moreover, the magnalia dei referred to serve as mythic prototypes for the divine power and aid requested for the nation. The events in time past thus have their own independent status separate from the contexts in which the speaker exists. The cases wherein God prophesies a new iteration of victory confirm this point.
Quite different are the cases of mythopoesis where these mythic exemplars are variously personalized or historicized. On these occasions, features of the mythic trope of combat are applied to an individual or nation and produce a complex metaphor of identity; and it is just this fusion of differences (of a person with a dragon, for example) that is rhetorically exploited by the speaker. 1 Accordingly, for all their fantastical qualities, these metaphors concretize a correlation perceived between a given person or nation and the mythologem, and in so doing they not only reactualize the myth in dramatic ways, but give human life an ironic dimension. This process of ironization through mythic attribution saves the image from veering into the absurd or from totally encumbering the rhetoric. Hence whereas myths derive their effect precisely because they narrate something ancient and believed true, these mythic metaphors open up an ironic space between the image (the dragon or the sea) and its vehicle (the person or the nation) and are effective