what is myth? dean stevens. what is myth? fact or fiction? μύθος characteristics of myth...
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What is Myth?
What is Myth?Fact or Fiction? Characteristics of MythCulture Specific or Universal?Why Myth?Is Myth Science? Religion? Something Else?Theories/Classification of Myth?
Characteristics of MythSupernaturalStories involving gods, and/or heroesOriginally Oral TraditionCultural World View/PrehistoryCan change, No Set StoryCan have several versionsCan be contradictoryWritten myth is the end of a very long evolutionary process
Why Myth?To EntertainTo explain the unexplainableRetelling Prehistory
Why Myth?: Ancient Greeks6th Century BCE Scientific Observation
Theagnes of Rhegion (c. 525 BCE): --Gods are symbolic of natural processes
Anaxagoras : gods cant be taken literallyXenophanes: gods are immoral and are fashioned in our own imageEuhermerus of Messene 300 BCE: Fiction: Gods were mortal kings
Why Myth?: Modern Interpretation2 types of Theories: External/InternalExternal: EnvironmentalInternal: Comes from within us
External Theories of MythNature Myth TheoryRitual Myth TheoryEtiological Theory
Internal TheoryFreudian TheoryWish fulfillment/violation of taboosDionysos is Idrepression of Dionysos leads to perversion and violent outbreaksExplains tragedy.Doesnt Explain ancient cultural roots of many myths
Internal TheoryCarl JungArchetypal MythsMyths similar to dreams
Claude Levi-StraussStructuralism: World is a reflection of minds binary organization (good vs. evil, light vs. dark)Myth deals with reconciliation of oppositesDivine will versus human ambition
Are Myths Universal?Flood MythHero ArchetypesCreation Myth
Flood MythEpic of Gilgamesh Tablet XI (700 BCE ?) Utnapishtim 2700 BCEEpic of Atra-Hasis 1800 BCETorah Book of Genesis 1400 BCE Ch 6-9 NoahOvid Metamorphoses Deucalion and Pyrrha
The Castration of Uranus: fresco by Vasari & Cristofano Gherardi c. 1560
Classifying MythCosmology/Cosmogony/Creation Myth
Creation Myth: Atum 2400 BCE
Atum Pyramid TextsAtum The Complete OneRises from Primeval Water (chaos)Maa OrderCreates by releasing life-force into his mouth spits out gods, lifeMan created from his tearsApophis Dragon (Chaos) Underworld
Creation Myth Enuma ElishMarduk and Tiamat 2800 BCE-1900 BCEApsu (Ocean) Tiamat (Primeval waters-Chaos-Dragon)Rebellion of First Gods-Failed Tiamat Motherly Concern2nd Rebellion Marduk SupremacyNintu-Earth Creates man from mud and slain god
Gnosticism: Prophet ManiBattle between Light and DarkTimeKing of DarknessPrimal ManAdam and EveJesus
Hesiod Theogony750 BCEChaos Independent ExistenceGaea (Gaia) Independent ExistenceTartarus The Abyss Independent ExistEros Procreative Love IndependentChaos and Gaea can mate or create independentlyStory of conflict among the gods-permeates cosomos
Hero ArchetypeThe Heroic Pattern Archetypal Elements and EventsElement 1: Early LifeThe heros mother is a royal virgin.His father is a kingThe circumstances of his conception and birth are unusual, andHe is reputed to be the son of a god.At birth an attempt is made, often by his father or maternal grandfather, to kill him, butHe is spirited away, andHe is reared by foster parents in a far country
Hero ArchetypeElement 2: Young AdulthoodOn reaching manhood, he returns or goes to his future kingdom.He falls under the control of an enemy.
Hero ArchetypeElement 3: Journey or QuestHe often makes a journey to the Underworld, or the shades of the dead may visit himHas a purpose for his journeyTravels to the end of the earthSeeks directions and/or adviceFinds women a danger to his successGains a guideIs given weapons or talismans with magical powersCrosses waterConfronts the powers of death in the form of shades and/or monstersTries to bring back to earth an item or person from the Underworld, butIs at best only partly successful
Hero ArchetypeElement 4: The Return Home11. After victory over the king and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast 12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor, and 13. Becomes king. 14. Eventually, he loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and 15. He meets a mysterious death. 16. His children do not succeed him. 17. His body is not buried, but 18. He has one or more holy sepulchers.
Hero ArchetypeElement 5: Major Themes often associated with the heroThe human quest: a journey of discovery about himself, his society, and his universeIsolation: essentially alone, the heros courage, strength, and wisdom are testedThe quest as a dual struggle, both physical and psychological (a struggle to resolve the conflict between the body and the soul, between duty and desire, between the animal urges and divine aspirations, etc.)The cycle of life, death, and rebirthThe hero as redeemer: often restores the kingdom to health and fertilityThe hero as model: "by his half-divine nature, his glorious deeds, his relentless pursuit of immortality, the hero uplifts humanity from its dismal condition and reminds us of our godlike potential"
Myth in Greek CultureAnthropomorphic PolytheismHumanismIndividualismCompetitiveness
HumanismProtagoras: Man is the measure of all thingsBonnie Tyler: I need a Hero
IndividualismWhat about me???
Achilles is about to kill Penthesileia, the Amazon Queen at Troy: Large Athenian amphora,c.540 BC, found at Vulci in Etruria.
CompetitivenessAchilles: Glory or Obscurity?