At the official site for the His Dark Materials trilogy (of which The Golden Compass is being adapted for film), the "about the author" on the creator Philip Pullman features a wonderful epigram at the outset of his biography:
"Stories are the most important thing in the world. Without stories, we wouldn't be human beings at all."
That's certainly bold but it sums up what I've believed for a long time, and the coda validates the boldness.
Stories certainly do make us human just as they reflect our humanity. What would we be without Arthur or Gilgamesh? More importantly would we be where we are?
Though the passage to biblical scholars is fraught with more complex meaning, authors are fond of invoking John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word..."
And it's true, the word is what carries forward, preserves and analyzes culture.
Pullman's is a wonderful thought and well worth sharing.
Go tell the Spartans.