Unformatted text preview: Intellectual approaches to mythology mythology From Ancient to Modern From Times Times ANCIENT THEORIES OF MYTH ANCIENT Xenophanes 6th century B.C. Talks about anthropomorphism. “Mortals have Talks created their gods.” created Theagenes in Southern Italy 6th century B.C. Theagenes Battle among gods in Theogony represents conflict among natural forces. conflict ALLEGORY “Saying something in a different ALLEGORY way” e.g. Daphne and Apollo, symbol of chastity (Story of Apollo, who fell in love with Daphne, she refused him to remain chaste, and was turned into a tree, story to be read in Ovid) turned Pollaiuolo (c. 1470), Oil on wood 29.5 x 20 cm. The god Apollo Pursued the nymph Daphne (National Gallery Trafalgar Square- London) (National Mosaic from Cyprus (Paphos, 3rd c. CE, found in Roman villa, Mosaic depicting Daphne-Apollo (right) and Peneus- Daphne’s father (left) (left) EUHEMERISM EUHEMERISM c. 300 B.C.E Euhemerus wrote a book about a journey to the c. wealthy islands in the Indian Ocean. He has his own theogony: The gods were great men originally, worshipped after death. Rationalization of myth Thus myth becomes a form of early history. From his book Thus the modern term euhemerism, that means gods were once men. euhemerism that Example, Euhemerus’ view on god Zeus: Zeus was once a king in Crete who deposed his father, Cronus. king There are features that can account for such a thesis: the There family structure of the Olympian world, as the aristocratic families. Also remember Euhemerus lived in Hellenistic times (after 300 BCE, Hellenistic age developed an interest in science and the study of nature). science Rationalism vs Metaphor, and Allegory Allegory: a sustained metaphor- details of the myth are understood as symbols of universal truths. Popular and frequent approach in many different times of history from antiquity to present times. Role of symbolism. Allegorical nature myths: explanations of meteorological and cosmological phenomena; Max Müller- 19th century According to Max Müller: Myths are nature myths, explain nature, they all refer to meteorological and cosmological phenomena (example, change of seasons, day replacing night, universe etc). PLATONISM PLATONISM Plato, lived in the 4th century B.C. founded the Academy Plato, in Athens, a friend of Socrates. in He was a severe philosophic critic of Greek myths as He they were told by Homer and other poets. Also a critic of poets and poetry. poets He thought that myths had a corrupting influence He because they failed to present reality, but rather a distorted image of reality. He banned the poets and their lies/tales in his Rebublic. Rebublic. Platonic philosophy: Eternal truths, namely “Ideas” (see Platonic our term “idealism) behind images of the world our
Opposed traditional myth, wrote his own, as vehicles that express Opposed “IDEAS” eternal realities, such as the myth of Atlantis 200-500 200-500 A.D. Neoplatonism revived and Neoplatonism developed many Plato’s theories. Major philosophic movement at the time. philosophic Believed in a higher dimension of time and Believed space, perfect and absolutely true, accessible to us through our minds, freed from our bodies and senses. senses. Myth a vehicle for discovering higher truths. Myth describes timeless realities (according to Myth founder Plotinus, c. 300 A.D). founder URANUS-CRONUS-ZEUS URANUS-CRONUS-ZEUS Corresponding to UNITY (unchanging) INTELLECT (unchanging) UNITY SOUL(subject to change) SOUL(subject NEOPLATONISM NEOPLATONISM Mediaeval and Renaissance Theories
-Allegorical Interpretation to serve moral -Allegorical teaching. E.g. Daphne –moral allegory, botanical allegory botanical -Alchemists. Example: Hermes (in Latin -Alchemists. Mercury) allegory for chemical facts Mercury) -Handbooks of mythology providing -Handbooks information as well as interpretation information Bernini (1598 - 1680) depicting the chaste nymph Daphne being changed into a laurel tree when she tries to flee from Apollo. laurel
Galleria Borghese, Rome Galleria Myth interpretation Myth
Rise Rise of the scientific study of myth. myth. -16th –17th century: explorers -16th and missionaries in quest of ancient analogues to the recently discovered myths in recently discovered places. 17th Century- Allegorical 17 Interpretation of Myth Interpretation
Myths contained veiled truths about moral Myths and natural life. and -Allegory- Symbolism -Artistic representations to follow Englightenment and Romanticism Englightenment Bernard Bernard Fontenelle The Origin of Fables (1724): Myth rooted in ignorance of men Myth Giambatista Vico New Science (1725) Giambatista New Myth forms part of intellectual history. Earlier Myth forms of thought are valid.- First proposed the view (before Nietzsche) that Homer was an idea not a person, denial of historicity of the Trojan War, emphasis on intellectual understanding. War, Friedrich Creuzer Symbolism and Mythology of Friedrich the Ancient Peoples, Especially the Greeks (1810) myth and emotional experience, vehicle of lost truths of John William Waterhouse Daphne and Apollo (1908) Daphne classical and romantic classical MYTH INTERPRETATION MYTH MYTH AND PSYCHOANALYSIS SIGMUND FREUD (1856-1939)– -Myths record events SIGMUND of mental life -Dreams are fulfillments of wishes that have been repressed and disguised. The mind goes in “dreamrepressed work” which consists of compression of elements, work” displacement into allusion and representation into symbols. Similar process in creation, abbeviation, displacement into allusion and representation of myths. displacement The case of Oedipus –the son accidentally kills the father The and marries the mother. For Freud, this myth reflects and/or explains behaviors in relationship to parents. Oedipus complex. Oedipus KARL JUNG (1875-1961) Myths as archetypes. The human mind has a Myths tendency for archetypes. tendency Main difference with Freud: Jung distinguished Main between the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. Myths can be the traditional expressions of collective dreams> emphasis on the psychological dependence of all societies (primitive and sophisticated) upon their traditional mythology. traditional The Kiss of the Sphinx, by Franz von Stuck (1895)
Late 19th century art Emphasis on the forbidden, sexual side of myth Late Ritual Ritual as a form of communication is a kind of language. language. Frazer The Golden BoughFrazer The comparative data on ritual Which comes first? Jane Which Harrison and the School of Cambridge “Myth is ritual misunderstood”, or S. H. Hooke MYTH and RITUAL MYTH The Structuralists – 20th Century Claude Lévi-Strauss- Myth a kind of communication like language or music Binary structure (culture vs nature, raw vs cooked, hunter/hunted, male vs female) Negotiation and resolution of opposites Vladimir Propp Russian folklorist Analysis of recurrent pattern – Propp does not distinguish time (whereas Levi-Strauss does). For Propp. Characteres may change, actions do not. All folktales are of one sort (Quest the main aspect). 31 motifemes : functions or units of action Walter Burkert Patterns of motifemes broken down to five: 1. The girl leaves home. 2. The girl is secluded. 3. She becomes pregnant by a god. 4. She suffers. 5. She is rescued and gives birth to a son. Synthesis of structuralist and historical viewpoints “Historical dimension” of myth Four theses 1. Myth belongs to the more general class of tradition tales. 2. The identity of a traditional tale is to be found in a structure of sense within the tale itself. 3. Tale structures, as a sequence of motifemes, are founded on basic biological or cultural programs of actions. 4. . Myth is a traditional tale with secondary, partial reference to something of collective importance. LINGUISTIC THEORIES AND STRUCTURALISM STRUCTURALISM Myth is language Structures, Relations, Binary oppositions, Structures, parallelisms. Claude Levi-Strauss (born 1908). Anthropological perspective.The Paris school of criticism (Vernant and Detienne) Detienne) Semiotic Approach. Roland Barthes Semiotic (1915-1980) Myth not a language but a secondary sign system built upon the primary. primary. Surrealism in Art. Giorgio de Chirico (1917) Hector and Andromache Surrealism ...
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