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Unformatted text preview: What is a Myth? What is a Myth?
01/23/09 What is Mythology? What is Mythology? What is a Myth? Mythology = mythos + logos the study of myths What does “myth” mean in modern English? What did “mythos” mean in Ancient Greek? Myth: Modern Definitions Myth: Modern Definitions
Webster gives 4 meanings. 1a: A traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon 2b: An unfounded or false notion 3. A person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence. Myth as Falsehood Myth as Falsehood “That’s a myth!” The myth of Echinacea Roland Barthes and Modern Roland Barthes and Modern Myths The Myth of the Steak and the Fries The Myth of the Novel Writers (“Romans et Enfants”) Myth = symbol in modern society A myth can be a person or an object Mythos and Logos: Mythos and Logos:
Greek Definitions Mythos/muthos – word or speech, a story that is transmitted by oral tradition Logos – account/story Plato: first to draw clear distinction between mythos (just a story) and logos (an account that accords with reason and truth) Myth and History Myth and History or Myth vs. History? No clear separation b/w myth and history in the Greek mind More than one version can exist of each myth Propoganda: influence of historical events on transmission and evolution of myth Myths in Everyday Life of the Greeks Myths in Everyday Life of the Greeks Aetiological myths – explanation for why things are the way they are myth as substitute for lost history Association of myths with locations (e.g., House of Heracles in Thebes; Mt. Olympus; Delphi) Myths in nature (e.g., rivers; birds/trees sacred to particular gods) Myths in the night sky – natural phenomena and moral lessons Heracles, Lyra, Corona Borealis Heracles, Lyra, Corona Borealis Heracles – kneeling with his club raised to strike Serpens Corona – crown of Theseus OR crown of Dionysus OR crown of Ariadne Ophiuchus – means “snakeholder” Either Asclepius OR Apollo and the Delphic dragon Heracles Heracles Labors of Heracles in the Night Sky Labors of Heracles in the Night Sky Nemean Lion Leo The Hydra and the Crab Hydra and Cancer The Stymphalian Birds Lyra and Cygnus The Cretan Bull Taurus The Dragon guarding the Garden of Hesperides Serpens Freeing of Prometheus from the Eagle Aquila Sagittarius Sagittarius The centaur Chiron Immortal, but surrendered his immortality when wounded by an arrow of Heracles Ursa Major and Ursa Minor Ursa Major and Ursa Minor Two nymphs who nursed infant Zeus Ursa Major – alternate myth: Callisto, one of Zeus’ loves Cygnus Cygnus Commemorates Zeus’ seduction of the goddess Nemesis in the guise of a swan Aphrodite helped the ruse in the form of an eagle Aquila Libra Libra The scales of either Astraea, goddess of justice OR Tyche (Fortune) Astraea and/or Tyche Virgo Argo and Gemini Argo and Gemini The Argo – placed in the sky by Zeus after the expedition Only half of the ship is visible Gemini – Castor and Pollux Patrons of sailors in distress Orion, Orion’s Belt, Canis, and Orion, Orion’s Belt, Canis, and Scorpio Hunter, associated with Lepus (the hare) Had a dog (Canis) Boasted about his hunting skills Killed by Artemis OR by a scorpion (Scorpio) sent by Gaea Scorpion keeps chasing Orion in the sky: as it rises in the east, Orion flees in the west Perseus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia Perseus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia and Cepheus The boast of Cassiopeia Poseidon’s wrath Perseus to the rescue! Athena placed all in the sky (incl. sea monster) Perseus and Perseus and Andromeda Myths in the Sky as Myths in the Sky as Reminders Aetiological myths: explain how constellations came into being N.B. Different version of the same myth common diff. myths surrounding the same constellation How should one behave towards the gods? What kinds of actions are rewarded by the gods? What kinds of actions are punished by the gods? What happens to great heroes after death? Some Conclusions Some Conclusions Loss of the original context retaining the names, but losing the stories Lack of curiousity in the modern world: most individuals do not ask “why is Orion’s belt called that?” Curiousity and the need to know WHY – feature of the Greeks that comes through in their myths Prevalence of aetiological myths Necessity of myths to explain events for which there is no historical data ...
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- Spring '08