Lecture 1 ('09)

Lecture 1 ('09) - The Nature of The Nature of Classical...

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Unformatted text preview: The Nature of The Nature of Classical Myth and the Geography and History of Greece and Rome 8/26/2009 Goals for the Day Goals for the Day Why study myth? What is a myth? Where exactly are Greece and Italy? When exactly did these cultures flourish? Writing Exercise Writing Exercise What is a myth? Be specific! Why study mythology? What is a myth and what do myths What is a myth and what do myths do? Muthos = ‘story’, ‘tale’, ‘narrative’ Originally no distinction between truth and falsehood Modern nuances can be misleading Muthos eventually opposed to logos (‘word’, ‘story’), as ‘fiction’ is opposed to the ‘(verifiable) truth’ But not necessarily ‘fiction’ in the sense of ‘untrue’ What is a myth and what do myths What is a myth and what do myths do? Mythic ‘truth’ distinct from ‘scientific’ truths Myths use metaphor, allegory, and symbolism to get at universal or eternal truths Deal with ‘spiritual concerns’ Such concerns necessarily require a ‘mythic imagination’ How else to discuss the nature of god(s), the human soul, the afterlife, love, etc. Questions of religion, not science What is a myth and what do myths What is a myth and what do myths do? Myths as ‘sacred stories’ Primarily concerned with gods and humankind’s relations with them Part of a culture’s inherited ‘cultural idiom’ and ‘ideology’ Myths as ‘traditional stories’ Handed down orally, textually, and in visual arts; oral transmission gives way to textual transmission; the stories are older than their ‘fossilized’ incarnations in texts Told and retold Susceptible to great variation in treatment What is a myth and what do myths What is a myth and what do myths do? There is no one ‘true’ or ‘correct’ version of a given myth Some versions become ‘standard’ or ‘canonical’ Standards established in literary form, in texts of ancient Greece and Rome, i.e. [ = ‘id est’, ‘that is’] in classical texts (e.g. [ = ‘exempli gratia’, ‘for example’] Homer’s Odyssey) ‘Classics’ = the study of Greco­Roman literature ‘classical mythology’ = the study of myths found largely in Greco­Roman literature What is a myth and what do myths What is a myth and what do myths do? Classical myth, a (perhaps cumbersome) definition: “a story, often concerning sacred and/or spiritual concerns, that, through its classical form, has attained a kind of immortality because its inherent archetypal beauty, profundity, and power have inspired rewarding renewal and transformation by successive generations” A quick geography lesson A quick geography lesson The world A quick geography lesson A quick geography lesson Europe A quick geography lesson A quick geography lesson A quick geography lesson A quick geography lesson Italy: ancient and modern A quick geography lesson A quick geography lesson Proximity of Greece and Italy A Quick History Lesson A Quick History Lesson 70,000 BCE and before: Greece is settled 3000 BCE – ca. (circa) 1100 BCE: Bronze Age 1600­1400 BCE: Minoan Culture Dominates the Sea 1400­1100 BCE: Mycenaeans Gain Prominence Ca. 1200 BCE: Troy Falls 1100 BCE – 900 BCE: A Dark Age A Quick History Lesson A Quick History Lesson 900­700 BCE: Geometric Period 700s BCE: Homer is first written down 700­480 BCE: Archaic Period 500s BCE: Athens is ruled by tyrants 480 BCE: Persia sacks Athens Persia defeated on land by Sparta, on sea by Athens A Quick History Lesson A Quick History Lesson 480­323 BCE: The Classical Period 447­432 BCE: The Parthenon is built 431­404 BCE: Peloponnesian War 430 BCE: The Plague of Athens 404 BCE: Sparta tears down Athens’ walls 336 BCE: Alexander the Great takes power 323 BCE: Alexander dies Hellenistic Period begins 146 BCE: Greece is annexed by the Roman Republic ...
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